Stop Weaving Your Content Into a New Form of English

loom

I’ve always wanted to learn how to weave. The act of making fabric seems like it would be so relaxing. Sort of like crafting meditation.  In order to weave, I need to learn how to set up and use a loom.

Knowing that setting up a loom can be quite complicated, I decided that I’d take a class on weaving to get me on my way. I had my first class yesterday. It was quite intense. I never knew exactly how complicated it is to get the warp onto the loom.  And then there’s the weft. The weft is created by throwing the shuttle back and forth in the shed. And then, of course, you beat it with the beater, which also houses the reed.

Confused? Yep. Me, too.

Learning to weave is not “just” following a set of motions that you do with yarn or thread. Weaving has its very own vocabulary. It is like learning a foreign language using English words.

Here are a few of the words I need to memorize:

  • Beater
  • Reed
  • Shed
  • Heddle
  • Shaft Bar
  • Castle
  • Lease Sticks
  • Kite Stick
  • Warp
  • Weft
  • Shuttle
  • Raddle
  • Apron
  • Gamps

And then there are tasks, such as:

  • Putting the warp in the raddle
  • Beaming
  • Back-to-front warping
  • Threading the heddles
  • Sleying the reed

To assist me in learning how to set up the loom, I purchased two books. One is called, “Weaving for Beginners” and the other is called “The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory.” The books are large, and have lots of pictures and photographs.  I figured that reading the books would help increase my understanding of the process.

Boy, was I wrong. I am more confused now than I was yesterday, after class and before I read the books.

Here is a sample sentence from one of the books:

“The warp threading drafts for the samples adhere to the rules as outlined in the technical details relating to the threading sequences in the introduction to each section, but may be worked in a different direction, or indeed start on a different shaft.’

This 43-word sentence makes absolutely no sense to me. I can read the words. I can even look up the ones I don’t know (warp, threading draft, threading sequence, shaft). But, I still have no idea what the sentence means.

Here is what I think it says (approximately):

“There is a chart that shows you how to thread the warp. It is called the warp threading draft. Each sample pattern has a warp threading draft. Each warp threading draft sample follows rules. The rules are also called sequences. The introduction to each section has technical details about the threading sequences. You can thread the warp in either direction, left-to-right or right-to-left. You can also start the threading sequence on a different shaft.”

Honestly, though, I have no idea what the sentence means and if my rewrite is barely accurate. 

The same problem exists when a translator works with your English source content and tries to translate it into another language. If your source sentence is long, complicated, convoluted, and makes no sense, the translation is going to be a guess. Just like my English to English translation is a total guess.

The bottom line is to write the shortest sentences possible. Three or four short, intelligible sentences are much better than one crazy, long sentence any day.

Val Swisher

Val Swisher is the CEO of Content Rules. She is a well-known expert in global content strategy, content development, and terminology management. Using her 20 years of experience, Val helps companies solve complex content problems by analyzing their content and how it is created.

When not blogging, Val can be found sitting behind her sewing machine working on her latest quilt. She also makes a mean hummus.

Latest posts by Val Swisher (see all)

Discuss
Blog · Content Quality · September 17, 2015
 

 

 
  • Hi, Val. This is a great object lesson in the importance of clear writing. Sentence length is important. Even more important, I think, is simple sentence structure — so that the reader (and the translator) doesn’t have to unravel the threads of meaning were carelessly woven together by the writer.

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