If you translate technical texts, I am pretty sure you already came across words such as “Danger”, “Warning”, “Caution” or “Notice”. At least in Portuguese documents I have been finding quite a few different wordings for these signal words, which is not exactly a good thing.
Signal words are mainly used in user manuals as well as in signs. They refer to situations where the user is advised to behave in a way that avoids dangers or requires special attention to a particular detail. Each signal word implies a certain degree of severity, therefore they have an underlying symbolic color.
Luckily, a few years ago my Internet diggings led me to a table developed on behalf of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) by a Canadian translation company called Parenty Reitmeier. Since then, I have been using the signal words consistently in my translations, and have been persuading my clients for the need of harmonizing these short but paramount words. By publishing it here I hope I can contribute to the spreading of the correct use of these terms.
Thank you very much for the permission to publish your table in my blog, Lynn!
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