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Oh well, it's Monday morning here in Atlanta, so to start the week, I'd
like to add a few examples of commonly misused terms and phrases to the
"dangerous voltage" item by Norm. (Remember, common usage of
incorrectness does NOT necessarily make it correct.)
My own list includes the following:
---> "At this point in time, . . . " - It was perhaps 10 or 12 years ago
that I read or heard in an interview with a scientist a reminder that
time has its own units of measure and, believe it or not, a "point" is
not one of them. I recall from my 10th grade high school geometry class
that the most common units of time measurement are seconds, minutes,
hours, etc. (plus, of course, many, many more nowadays). A _line_,
though, is "an infinite path connecting an infinite number of points".
(http://www.beekmanlibrary.org/Mgloss.html) I guess someone will argue
that time is linear, but that's a whole new ballgame.
---> "12 a.m." or "12 p.m." - Because "a.m." is the abbreviation for
"ante meridiem" (before the meridian) and "p.m." is the abbreviation for
"post meridiem" (after the meridian)
(http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/info/noon.htm), and "12" is directly
ON the meridian, one can't be both before AND on the meridian at the
same time, unless you've got one giant shoe (thus, 12 a.m. is
impossible); likewise, one can't be after AND on the meridian at same
time (thus, 12 p.m. is impossible). I know, I know - everybody refers to
12 a.m. as midnight (or should it be noon?) and 12 p.m. as noon (or
should it be midnight?). But in reality, 12 Noon and 12 Midnight (or "12
M" and "12 N", for you abbreviation freaks out there) are really the
only correct ways to state these times of a 24-hour day; and in
astronomy, we use a 24-hour "clock" (where 1 p.m. = 13:00). It's
interesting that various engineers whom I've met are so persnickety
about a millionth-billionth of a measure, but refuse to see the illogic
of using 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. which can also confuse folks.
---> People who say "quote quote" when verbally explaining things - We
certainly don't use quote marks this way when we write, so why when
speaking? So the sentence _Beware of "Dangerous Voltages"_ becomes
instead _Beware of " " Dangerous Voltages_.
How'd I get this way? From years and years of bosses who didn't have a
_grasp_ of the English language, they had it by the throat! They were
often bosses who moved up the ladder not by ability but by connections.
Once in place, they'd come up with every damn nuance they could find to
criticize the work of their writing staffs, which pushed us to seek and
find every correct way of stating anything. What a life!! One boss
demanded that the correct pronunciation of the word "kiln" (an oven in
which pottery or ceramic ware is fired) is "kil". (And this in a news
release for a trade journal to be read silently or, more probably,
passed over entirely.) I'd heard it pronounced "kiln" as well as "kil",
but he was adamant, citing the pronunciation key following the word in a
dictionary (kil, or kiln); I said the only reason it's presented that
way is because one has three letters and the other has four letters, but
he smugly refused to compromise.
He and several other bosses and engineers took it upon themselves to
display their superiority in every way possible (though they were real
So today, I'm scarred . . . (oh woe is me).
-- Kenpo in Atlanta
From: techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Norm Dancy
Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 8:51 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
Subject: Warning text
I have to check a lot of user's manuals for consumer electronic devices.
They usually have a block of text warning that there is dangerous
voltage inside and not to open the case. The problem I have is that they
use double quotes around _dangerous voltage_. Since those two words are
not a quote and not a special use of a technical term the quotes
indicate to me irony as if it is not really "dangerous".
Shouldn't the double quotes be deleted? I've searched the Internet but
cannot find any published standard or requirement for this particular
text blob. The text is quoted below:
> The lightning flash with the arrowhead symbol, within an equilateral
> triangle, is intended to alert the user to the presence of uninsulated
> "dangerous voltage" within the product's enclosure that may be of
> sufficient magnitude to constitute a risk of electric shock to
P.S. I also feel that "...constitute a risk of electric shock to
persons." is superfluous and should just be "...constitute a risk of
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