RE: To utilize or not to utilize? (Take II)

Subject: RE: To utilize or not to utilize? (Take II)
From: "Stegall, Sarah" <sarah -dot- stegall -at- terayon -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 12:54:42 -0700

> ----------
> From: Hart, Geoff
> Sent: Tuesday, September 4, 2001 12:19 PM
> To: Techwr-L (E-mail); 'Stegall, Sarah'
> Subject: RE: To utilize or not to utilize? (Take II)
> Sarah Stegall responded to my previous post: <<I understand your point,
> but
> what do you do if the industry as a whole, say, misspells a word?>>
> I'm not focusing on spelling, I'm focusing on _word use_.
I know. It was an example, not a challenge.

> My suggestion certainly doesn't mean you can't be an advocate for better
> usage; if there are two accepted ways to say the same thing, and only one
> makes grammatical or stylistic sense to you, then use the "better"
> alternative. After a time, people will begin to accept your usage as the
> standard because your writing read better than anyone else's, and even
> poor
> writers can recognize (and eventually follow) good writing. The broader
> point is that jargon comes in two forms: the bad form, which substitutes
> poor word choices for existing superior choices, and the good form, which
> uses words that all readers understand.
Thank you. This is *precisely* the phrasing I was looking for. Obviously we
cannot "outvote" an entire industry, but I think the telecom industry has
taken the word "utilize" to heart because it sounds big and important and
"eddicated", not because it's a better word than "use". As such, I think
it's bad form as you define it.

> <<don't technical writers have a certain responsibility not only to our
> audience (who are NOT necessarily jargon-savvy engineers) but to the
> language as a whole? >>
> We don't, and as an editor, it pains me to say this.
*sniff* I know. You're right. Dammit.

> if writers and editors as a whole had ever borne such responsibility,
> we'd probably all be speaking medieval French right now! <g>
And this is a Bad Thing? :D At least it would be a lot more consistent, no?

> --Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
> geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
> "User's advocate" online monthly at
> "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that
> English is about as pure as a cribhouse [We're Happily Overcoming
> Repulsive
> E-mailfiltering]. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has
> pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle
> their pockets for new vocabulary."-- James D. Nicoll
I must steal this sig quote.

Sarah Stegall
Senior Technical Writer
sarah -dot- stegall -at- terayon -dot- com


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