RE: a vocabulary question

Subject: RE: a vocabulary question
From: edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 10:05:11 -0400

From MW on-line:

Main Entry: de·pen·den·cy
Pronunciation: -d&n(t)-sE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -cies
Date: 1594
2 : something that is dependent on something else;
especially : a territorial unit under the jurisdiction of
a nation but not formally annexed by it

I would interpret this as follows:
I the case presented (where A is dependant on X, Y, and Z), A is the dependancy.
Or the dependant if you take into account that MW considers dependancy to be
especially related to countries.

Main Entry: dependent
Variant(s): also de·pen·dant /-d&nt/
Function: noun
Date: 1523
1 archaic : DEPENDENCY
2 : one that is dependent; especially : a person who relies on another for

This seems to be a case of perpetuated Fictionary (from one of Geoff Harts sigs
I believe). The mathematical definition of dependant is identical (when
referring to the relationships between variables) if you need an argument to
convince the programmers. I'm still trying to find out what the list of X, Y,
and Z should be called. A more legitimate name for the list of XYZ would be
"List of Requirements" or "Supporting Material/Code".

To bring this on topic for TECHWR-L, this seems to be a good case of when
programmers and engineers should be dragged kicking and screaming back to
language conventions. If they refuse to read the dictionary when it is presented
to them, beat them over the head with it. The complete OED or MW unabridged
would be best up to the task. I think usage since the 1500's should take
precendence over some ignorant/honest mistake in the 1980's or 90's.

While it is true we should write for our audience and use the jargon and
definitions they are familiar with, we should never let them willy-nilly
redefine and invent terms or definitions. Especially when the term already
exists and ABSOLUTELY when the new usage is the opposite meaning of the accepted

Eric L. Dunn

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