Jeff Todd, ‘Genre Theory for Product Instructions and Warnings’

Abstract:
Tort law has long imposed two separate duties upon manufacturers regarding nonobvious dangers in their products: the duty to instruct and the duty to warn. This Article applies rhetorical genre theory as developed by leading scholars and applied by commentators in law and in technical communication to instructions and warnings. Genre theory supports imposing two separate duties because instructions and warnings are two separate genres, each with a different act as its goal: the former gives directions on safe use of a product while the latter calls attention to nonobvious dangers. The Article also recommends the second-person, present-tense (You) Do this kernel sentence as the primary conventional marker for these genres, with modifications of this sentence toward policies and procedures to indicate instructions and toward the product to indicate warnings.

Todd, Jeff, Genre Theory for Product Instructions and Warnings (2015). Washburn Law Journal, Vol 54, No 2, 2015.

First posted 2015-07-08 05:42:15

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