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Subject:RE: iff vs. if in documents From:Lisamarie Babik <lmbabik -at- winspc -dot- com> To:"'SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM'" <SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Fri, 21 Jan 2000 13:48:52 -0500
I don't consider "iff" to be jargon. Heck, I even found it in my dictionary:
iff (somtimes read with a prolonged f): (1955) if and only if <two figures are
congruent ~ one can be placed over the other so that they coincide>
Then again, as a friend of mine likes to point out, Dictionary companies are in
the business of selling dictionaries, not preserving the language in any sort
of pure form...
Howerver, I disagree that its use will "weaken" your writing. I think you need
to consider your audience. If you are writing for a programmer, for example,
iff will mean nothing other than "if and only if". However, a programmer will
find repetitive use of the phrase "if and only if" not only cumbersome to read,
but damned annoying as well.
Again, I think this comes down to a more basic argument that's had on this list
about 400 times a year: do we write to our audience or are we bound by some
unspoken moral code to preserve the language from corruption?
*plink*plink* <----- my two cents
lmbabik -at- winspc -dot- com
DataNet Quality Systems
24567 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, MI 48075
From: SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM [SMTP:SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM]
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 4:18 AM
Subject: Re: iff vs. if in documents
The word "iff," meaning "if and only if," is pure jargon, arising from
Boolean logic. It is not an English word. I consider it a brother of the
construction "unless and until," and a more obscure nephew of the common
constructions "and/or." We routinely edit out "and/or;" no one's tried to
slip by "iff" at our company.
I would respectfully disagree with the statement that "if" and "iff" are
different, or even ambiguous, *in the English language.* The common meaning
of "if" is the same. You only have to remove all possibly avenues for
ambiguity, using "if and only if," if you are questioning Bill Clinton 8^)
Once you open the door to terms like this, your prose will become much
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