Off topic: The saga of management review of writing style
Thread poster: Lia Fail (X)

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 27, 2004

Question: How many feet do mice have?
Original reply: Mice have four feet.

Mgmt. Comment: Elaborate!
Revision 1: Mice have five appendages, and four of them are feet.
Mgmt. Comment: No discussion of fifth appendage!

Revision 2: Mice have five appendages; four of them are feet and
one is a tail.
Mgmt. Comment: What? Feet with no legs?

Revision 3: Mice have four legs, four feet and one tail per
Mgmt. Comment: Confusing -- is that a total of 9 appendages?

Revision 4: Mice have four leg-foot assemblies and one tail assembly
per body.
Mgmt. Comment: Does not fully discuss the issue!

Revision 5: Each mouse comes equipped with four legs and a tail.
Each leg is equipped with a foot at the end opposite
the body; the tail is not equipped with a foot.
Mgmt. Comment: Descriptive? Yes. Forceful? NO!

Revision 6: Allotment appendages for mice will be: Four leg-foot
assemblies, one tail. Deviation from this policy is
not permitted as it would constitute disapportionment
of scarce appendage assets.
Mgmt. Comment: Too authoritative; stifles creativity!

Revision 7: Mice have four feet; each foot is attached to a small
leg joined integrally with the overall mouse structural
sub-system. Also attached to the mouse sub-system is a
thin tail, non-functional and ornamental in nature.
Mgmt. Comment: Too verbose/scientific. Answer the question!


Found this when trying to check whether disapportionment existed (well...I am desperate!)

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-12-28 07:58]


Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
English to Croatian
+ ...
Ahhhh.... Dec 27, 2004

Hi Ailish,

I'm just going through Revision 1 of a 50,000 words translation and your post here does not help at allicon_smile.gif

But yes, it does get just like in this saga sometimes. And when lucky, revisions have an endicon_smile.gif



Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
A slightly different variation with Cinderella Dec 29, 2004

Thanks, Alish! I am always on the lookout for things like this.

The other day while trawling for audience analysis ideas for "corporate stories," I came across a nice UK site called Animation Scriptwriting, which includes many interesting pages and the following advice I originally got from a German prof and have often passed on - though not with Cinderella:

Stories - Part Five: Relationships and Communication

Communication of ideas
One of the best ways to learn writing is to read and write letters for newspapers and magazines. They usually are short, specific to a problem, and give views for and against the issues discussed. Imagine an article highlighting the plight of Cinderella, and the responses that might get published.

Dear Sir,
Your article on Cinderella exposes the problem of people being exploited. There should be a law to protect such people, and to punish those that are able to use cheap labour when they can easily afford to pay reasonable wages.

Dear Sir,
Your article highlights the case of Cinderella, but bear in mind, though she may work hard and be underpaid, at least she has a roof over her head, is never short of food, and doesn't have to worry about being out of a job. She should consider herself lucky. There are plenty of people who would happily be in her situation.

Dear Sir,
Your article about Cinderella simply shows how young people take everything for granted nowadays. She is young and healthy, what is to stop her leaving her present job and seeking work elsewhere? There must be plenty of employers willing to take on such a hard-working person.

Dear Sir,
Although your article about Cinderella points out the problems she has as an underpaid servant, given the choice, would she prefer to be one of her ugly sisters? I would think not. We all have our problems. She must learn to live with it, or make some effort to take control of her own life, as we all have to when we grow up.

Dear Sir,
So Cinderella thinks she has a bad time does she, well just wait until she is married and has six children to look after and a lazy husband to cope with, then she'll really know what it is like to be overworked, underpaid, and not appreciated.

The various viewpoints depend upon the extent the letter writer identifies with Cinderella and her situation. Imagine letters from the following categories of writers, and how they might express a wide range of differing views:

Men and women
Strong and weak
Young and old
Law abiding and anti-social
Rich and poor
Conservative and fashionable
Educated and ignorant
Active and lazy
Ill and Healthy

This page is at


English to French
What? only 7 revisions? Dec 29, 2004

I use to work for the Communications dept. of a goverment agency and believe me, this management review "example" is not far off the mark. In my case, it was not rare that a news release, written by someone who knew quite a lot about the media, would be rewritten by a dozen different managers, half of which had no real connection with the subject at hand. And often enough, they would end up with the original version (or with something so ill-written that no news outlet would run it). Of course, all this took an awful amount of time and by the end of the process, the news-worthiness of the thing had sometimes evaporated.

Asked to describe this former job, I would say "My role was to take something incredibly interesting [scientific endeavours] and make it boring."



Local time: 09:56
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

I believe I know which CC you're talking about ;-) Dec 29, 2004

drmab wrote:
Asked to describe this former job, I would say "My role was to take something incredibly interesting [scientific endeavours] and make it boring."

I worked in the Media Relations branch of a government agency (years ago) and your description of the mangling of a press release sounds dead on, Marc.

Too many cooks spoil the soup!!icon_lol.gif



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