Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking

Subject: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 19:00:32 -0700


Michael West wrote:

Now here's something that interests me. Can writing
be both "perfectly intelligible" and "ambiguous and
potentially misleading" at the same time?

I wish I could quote a sample or two of what I mean, but that wouldn't be ethical.

So, let me try to explain. When I said that the sentences were "perfectly intelligible, part of what I meant was that the sentences were all perfectly correct by fairly exacting prescriptive standards. So, perhaps I should have said "grammatical and not obviously awkward." I'd make an analogy to the verse that someone - Samuel Johnson - once wrote to make the point that you can write a piece of verse that scans, but makes miserable poetry. The verse was something like:

I put my hat upon my head
And walked out on the Strand
And there I met another man
With his hat in his hand.

But I also mean to say that, if you knew nothing about the topic at all, you might think that they gave you a good understanding of what was being discussed. However, when you look closely, with the software and hardware in front of you, you soon see that the writing isn't as clear as it seems. Also, while it isn't exactly wrong, it's at a very high level of generality, so that the uninitiated could easily come away with the wrong ideas about the relations between the parts and how the whole worked. I think that this quality explains why the material slipped past its reviewers: they obviously didn't validate wha tthe were reviewing because it seemed plausible at a moderately superficial level.

Obviously, the writer was waffling, but with some skill. It took some knowledge to be aware of the fact, which is somewhat unusual. As Michael says, it's usually more evident.

--
Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177
http://members.axion.net/~bbyfield

"I denounce the heresy of Creationism
that would dismiss my mourning as sentimental
and allege a unique sentience divided us;
evolution would alow our parallel minds to meet
if love alone could not."



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Robohelp X3, from eHelp, lets you quickly and easily create professional Help systems for all your Windows and Web-based applications, including Net.
Order RoboHelp X3 in May and receive a $100 mail-in rebate, PLUS
free RoboScreenCapture and WebHelp Merge Module.
Order RoboHelp today: http://www.ehelp.com/techwr-l

---
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.



Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: You're SUPPOSED to have good communication skills if you're a tech writer: From: Jan Henning
Re: You're SUPPOSED to have good communication skills if you're a tech writer: From: Bruce Byfield
Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking: From: Michael West

Previous by Author: Re: You're SUPPOSED to have good communication skills if you're a tech writer
Next by Author: Re: Work Attire
Previous by Thread: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking
Next by Thread: Re: Sloppy writing, sloppy thinking


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads