Saturday, March 13, 2010

ISA HK/China --- Incoming Mail (Any change in your English?)

Dear xxx,

I reply with pleasure for your sharp observation that Station Mail of ISA HK/China in the past few weeks have been written with a evolving style of English. This is because I myself have been obsessed with modern English writing which focuses on precision, clarity & simplicity ever since I was introduced to it a few months ago. I thought I was good for the past 35 years in my English language, until I met this group of Technical Writers in North America who had completely swept me off my feet to point out the many errors in my communication skills. I was reluctant to swallow my pride in the beginning; but as I learned gradually from them, I had to admit that I was behind.

Without disclosing what I have dangerously dived myself into at present, since I am still several months from graduation or may not graduate at all, I can only say that my British English is no longer following international trend. First of all, we must set aside any national pride ever conceived in this matter. I learned practically all my English from Cambridge scholars during my school days in Britain. I do not think I can ever shake that off no matter what new style which I am now trying to imitate. British English will always be the back bone on my communication & it is in my blood.

However, we have to be pragmatic to look at where the biggest population is speaking English nowadays. Without doubt it has to be North America, with their movies, TV's & other forms of media in their hundreds of millions to spread all over the world. And do not think American English is just full of buzzwords & slangs. Wrong! Their technical writing especially legal documents, are full of old time English, that I could not read without a dictionary on hand. Some good old British words which do not appear in England anymore are still used in America. Bravo to the Yanks for flying the British flags!

I learned this 'contemporary' English primarily for the sake of Report Writing & Presentation. Modern Report Writing requires clarity, readability, simplicity, precision & must be error free. Bad spelling, incorrect grammar, excessive wording with irrelevance & bureaucratic jargons will make the report unprofessional, unreadable & unusable. Then what's the point of having a useless piece of work right from the start?

Most of my reports today are not written for bureaucrats in formal language. In fact, bureaucratic language which may stumble you on every step is hated by so many, that their work is hardly transited unless forced. Complicated sentences with excessive gratification will tire the reader very soon. This is not a good strategy for pleasing my clients.

Before one is to learn effective Report Writing, one must first master the English language in every step. This is like knowing where all your jigsaws are before learning how to put the puzzle together. If your English basics are poor, you can never build it high up. As for myself, I have to learn from the very beginning the use of grammar (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs), sentence structure (simple, complex, tenses, conjunctions), paragraph length, style (colloquial, formal, bureaucratic, personal, legal) & tone (emphasis, exaggeration, emotion). I also have to learn word economy, acronyms, abbreviations, citations & page formatting. Then I have to put all these together in logical thinking, persuasion, simplicity & clarity. I can tell you that this is no easy task for someone who is used to writing formal, bureaucratic languages for 35 years. To write simple, precise & clear is actually much harder.

I can give you some examples:

"There appears to be indication that the product heretofore referred to may be lacking substantial qualitative consummation, suggesting it may be incommensurate with the standards previously established by this department" --- simply means "This product doesn't work with our departmental standards." Then which is an easier sentence to read & understand?

Another example:

"Just as a musician has to be a master of his or her instrument, a writer is at his or her best when he or she has mastered his or her linguistic tools." --- can be re-written as "Mastery of words is as important to a writer as mastery of an instrument is to a musician."

Then how about:

"Upon the arrival of this arborist to the site located at 12345 Repulse Bay, browning of the Ficus could be seen throughout the canopies of trees along the hillside for as far as the eye could see." --- can be re-written as "I arrived at 12345 Repulse Bay & saw extensive browning of the foliage of the Ficus trees in the canopies along the hillside."

It is interesting to discuss the use of language to sharpen it to favour our work. As English is the business & technical language in HK especially for Report Writing, I intend to learn it the latest way to help my own work for projects & Court presentation. This is in line with the forever-learning principle of a Practicing Arborist.

Thank you again for giving me this interesting conversation. I hope I have not got out of the way to reply you in unnecessary length.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, March 13, 2010 3:51 PM
Subject: Change in your writing style?
Dear Station Manager,

I am an English teacher and I have been following your 'Station Mail' for some time. I think it is well written and I use it in my classes for secondary school pupils for language learning.

Lately in the past few months, I have noticed that there seemed to be a change of style and tone in your messages. Long, complicated sentences seemed to be replaced by simple words.

For my academic interest, am I right in assuming that you are changing your writing style? I shall be pleased if you can enlighten me.

Thank you very much and keep up the good work!



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ISA HK/China --- Code of Ethics for Certified Arborist

Dear Station Members,

ISA HK/China is relaying a recent message from ISA HQ on the Code of Ethics for Certified Arborists below for your immediate attention. Please read through the message carefully.

ISA HQ is taking the Code of Ethics for Certified Arborists very seriously. This is to protect the credibility & image of ISA Arborists anywhere in the world.

If anyone has any report on misconduct on any ISA Certified Arborist, please use the Charge Form supplied by ISA below. This may include incompetence in work, violation of professional practice, falsification of pre-qualification requirement in applying Certified Arborist Exam, mis-use of ISA Logo & Trademarks, etc.? The judgment will be made by experts in ISA HQ, not that of ISA HK/China. Therefore, please do not send the complaints to us.

Please note any reporting must be supported with justifiable evidence for substantiation.

Thank you for your kind cooperation & understanding.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

Certification News

ISA Certified Arborist's Code of Ethics policy

ISA Certification has implemented an ISA Certified Arborist's Code of Ethics policy to serve as a central guide and reference for arborist’s in support of their day-to-day decision making. It is meant to define our organization's mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct and industry standards. This document will be an important communication tool to help sustain consistency around the world and create an even playing field for all Certified Arborists.

The Code of Ethics policy is being sent to all current ISA Certified Arborist to sign and will become part of the application process for all new incoming applicants. We anticipate that implementing this policy will help to reduce poor professional conduct and practices. ISA Certified Arborists will be held accountable for their actions and in turn improve their business relations within their community and amongst their peers. This Code of Ethics will offer an invaluable opportunity for ISA to continue building a positive industry image which will increase confidence and trust in our certification program.

For more details please see the documents below:

Ethics Case Procedures
Click here for the Ethics Charge Statement
Click here for the Certified Arborist Agreement

Continuously improving our profession!

ISA takes the Code of Ethics very seriously and an Ethics Review Committee (ERC) will investigate unethical behavior that is brought to our attention. We ask that you please review the ‘Code of Ethics’ prior to completing an Ethics Charge Statement and fully document reasonable grounds for a violation. The more information you can supply the better we can determine the severity of the matter. Please note that your complaint is confidential but your name and information will be shared with the individual being reported.


The International Society of Arboriculture, Inc. (ISA) is a voluntary, non-profit, professionalassociation. The ISA Certification Program certifies qualified practitioners in the field ofarboriculture, who have met the professional knowledge standards established by the ISACertification Board.

Regardless of any other professional affiliation, this ISA Certified Arborist Code of Ethicsapplies to those individuals seeking ISA Certified Arborist certification (candidates), and allindividuals certified by the ISA as Certified Arborists (certificants).

The Certified Arborist Codeof Ethics establishes appropriate and enforceable professional conduct standards, and explainsthe minimal ethical behavior requirements for Certified Arborist certificants and candidates. TheCertified Arborist Code of Ethics also serves as a professional resource for arborists, as well asfor those served by Certified Arborist certificants and candidates, with respect to such standardsand requirements.

I. Responsibilities to ISA, the profession and the public.

A. Certified Arborist compliance with all organizational rules, policies and legalrequirements. Certificants and candidates must:

1. Comply with all applicable laws, regulations, policies and ethical standardsgoverning professional practice of arboriculture.
2. Comply with all accepted professional standards related to arboriculturepractice, including national practice standards and policies.
3. Provide accurate, complete, and truthful representations concerning allcertification and recertification information.
4. Maintain the security of ISA examination information and materials, includingthe prevention of unauthorized disclosures of test information.
5. Cooperate with ISA concerning ethics matters and the collection ofinformation related to an ethics matter.
6. Report apparent violations of the Code of Ethics by a certificant or candidateupon a reasonable and clear factual basis.
7. Refrain from behavior or conduct that is clearly in violation of professional,ethical, or legal standards.

II. Responsibilities to clients, employers, employees, and the public.

A. Certified Arborist responsibilities concerning the performance of professionalservices. Certificants and candidates must:

1. Deliver safe and competent services with objective and independentprofessional judgment in decision-making.
2. Recognize the limitations of their professional ability and provide servicesonly when qualified. The certificant/candidate is responsible for determiningthe limits of his/her own professional abilities based on qualifications,education, knowledge, skills, practice experience, and other relevantconsiderations.
3. Make a reasonable effort to provide appropriate professional referrals whenunable to provide competent professional assistance.
4. Maintain and respect the confidentiality of sensitive information obtained inthe course of professional activities unless: the information is reasonablyunderstood to pertain to unlawful activity; a court or governmental agencylawfully directs the release of the information; the client or the employerexpressly authorizes the release of specific information; or, the failure torelease such information would likely result in death or serious physical harmto employees and/or the public.
5. Properly use professional credentials, and provide truthful and accuraterepresentations concerning education, experience, competency and theperformance of services.
6. Provide truthful and accurate representations to the public in advertising,public statements, and other representations, and in the preparation ofestimates concerning costs, services and expected results.
7. Recognize and respect the intellectual property rights of others and act in anaccurate, complete, and truthful manner, including activities related toprofessional work and research.

B. Certified Arborist responsibilities concerning conflicts of interest and appearancesof impropriety. Certificants and candidates must:

1. Disclose to clients or employers significant circumstances that could beconstrued as a potential or real conflict of interest or an appearance ofimpropriety.
2. Avoid conduct that could cause a conflict of interest with a client, employer,employee, or the public.
3. Assure that a conflict of interest does not compromise legitimate interests of aclient, employer, employee, or the public and does not influence or interferewith professional judgments.
4. Refrain from offering or accepting significant payments, gifts or other formsof compensation or benefits in order to secure work or that are intended toinfluence professional judgment.

C. Certified Arborist responsibilities concerning public health and safety. Certificantsand candidates must:

1. Follow appropriate health and safety procedures, in the course of performingprofessional activities, to protect clients, employers, employees, and thepublic from conditions where injury and/or other harm are reasonablyforeseeable.
2. Inform appropriate government representatives or agencies when aware of anactivity or circumstance that may cause an unsafe condition or violate legalrequirements.