RE: It's what It's. OH THAT ONE !!

Subject: RE: It's what It's. OH THAT ONE !!
From: Mailing List <mlist -at- ca -dot- rainbow -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 10:28:53 -0500

Michael West [mailto:mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com]
> Note, however, that most of the time neither "which"
> nor "that" is really needed in restrictive clauses:
> The book you took yesterday...

I would use "that", for the benefit of translators and
of readers with English as a second language. Its whole
point in that kind of usage is......... wait for it....
to avoid ambiguity. Often the sentences are a little
more complicated, or the terminology in a technical
document is a little more ambiguous, so "that" helps
to make sentence structure a little more blatant.

The fact that I try to be consistent in that usage is
a further help and signpost to readers. I'm not convinced
that the same kind of consistency in NOT using "that"
would be as helpful. Sure, it adds slightly to the
overall word-count, but it's been a benefit (say many
of my reviewers).

Not to be down on Open Source software (which I happen
to really like for most things), but because it's put
together by loosely co-ordinated groups of multiple
nationalities, and often without an editorial or translation
budget, it's very often left me wishing that the
Help or the Tool-tip would make use of just a few more
(judiciously placed) commas, whiches and thats.

Hell, I've been associated with (and tinkered with)
computer-network stuff for years, but a piece of text
that's completely straightforward to the writer and
to other people can be opaque and confusing to me,
if it fails to be explicit about how its using a
simple word like "host". "Enter the hostname in
this field" WHAT!?! In the last three paragraphs,
you've used the word "host" to refer to four distinct
networked devices. Which one do you mean at this
critical juncture??

Clarity. I make it where I can. I take it where I
can get it. As they say: "Good luck with that." :-)



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