Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)

Subject: Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- highsoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 09:00:13 -0600

So long ago that I've completely forgotten its name, I read a book on technical writing, that succinctly stated Chris' point here, namely that users do things and technical publications shouldn't suggest that users have to obtain permission from a computing system or component - what Chris refers to as "CSF".

I think one issue in this discussion is the difference between the familiar voice of conversation or discussion, vs. a writer's voice in written documentation. It's common in US conversation, to use phrases that include "lets," "enables," etc. I'm not sure other languages have this convention. Written communication, designed for wider audiences than participants in a conversation, has different requirements. This difference is one aspect of evaluating one's audience, especially for written material that will be translated to other languages.


Peter Gold
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On Thursday, February 13, 2003, at 02:57 AM, Chris wrote:

I have a problem with computers, software, or functions (CSF) that allow or let me do anything. That construct implies there are things the CSF will not allow me to do. Untrue - I am a free agent restricted only by laws of man and nature. To say a CSF grants me permission to do something implies that it has power over me, and insults my humanity. The question is whether the CSF is *able* to do what *I want* it to do... If not, I'll find another tool. I am in control here.

Not only is the construct limiting, insulting, and formally incorrect, it also allows you to use unnecessarily baroque language thereby letting you write things with less precision. (Could you write with less precision if that particular construct didn't allow you to? I wonder...)


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Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice): From: Chris

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