chapter  10
19 Pages

Technicality and Abstraction: Language for the Creation of Specialized Texts

Specialized Knowledge At the CSIRO in Canberra, one section of the Personnel Management Manual admonishes administrators to avoid the use of the passive tense in their writing. As a writing consultant, I find what I suspect the author means poor advice-the passive is after all an important resource for organizing Themes in the development of an effective text. As a linguist, I find the advice simply amusing — because there is no such thing as a passive tense. There are present, past and future tenses, and active and passive voices. Presumably the would-be prescriptive grammarian who worked on that section of the manual intended the passive voice. But as the manual stands, the advice, poor though it is, does not really make sense.