RE: Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?

Subject: RE: Is the generic "you" implied in error messages?
From: "Jeanne A. E. DeVoto" <jaed -at- jaedworks -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 12:25:37 -0800

At 5:48 AM -0800 2/12/2000, Steve Miller wrote:
>> The Delete key is there on the keyboard. Software cannot "gray out" a piece
>> of the hardware.
>Many applications simply beep when you press <Del> at an inappropriate time.

Yes, and that beep *is* an error message. (Not a very helpful one, at
that.) Although a beep doesn't have grammar and therefore cannot be accused
of inappropriate use of the passive voice. ;-)

The more I think about the original error message, "This item cannot be
deleted", the more I think the question of passive versus active is a red
herring. The sentence is formally in the passive voice, but its purpose
isn't to describe an action while leaving the actor unnamed; its purpose is
to describe a characteristic of the item, namely that it's undeleteable. I
suppose you could put it that way in the error message, but "undeleteable"
is a rather awkward word.

--
jeanne a. e. devoto ~ jaed -at- jaedworks -dot- com
http://www.jaedworks.com






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