TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
It is often claimed that the term originally referred to the maximum
thickness of a stick with which it was permissible for a man to beat his
wife. This explanation for the origin of the term was popularized in
the opening of the 1999 movie The Boondock Saints. <endquote>
This is only *1* of *6* possible origins for the phrase.
Also from Wikipedia:
A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended
to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily
learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or
recalling some value, or for making some determination. Compare this to
heuristic, a similar concept used in mathematical discourse, or in
computer science, particularly in algorithm design.
The term "rule of thumb" or similar stands in many languages and cultures
for "quickly understood, easily used, practical method yielding
Frankly, to avoid a term with a commonly understood usage that is
appropriate simply because the origins of the phrase may be questionable
is utterly ridiculous. Someone wants us to stop using a phrase because it
meant something different in 1692? Words, their meanings, and dictionaries
evolve with time. I like to think my thinking evolves as well. "Rule of
thumb" is not sexist or bad, however the phrase may have originated over
400 years ago.
My rule of thumb: if it conveys the meaning you want to convey, use it.
Elizabeth J. Allen
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein
Gordon McLean said:
> "rule of thumb"?
> I'm genuinely curious as to why this is either sexist or racist. Yes I
> wouldn't use it in documentation but... No someone smarter than me will
> to point out why that statement is 'bad'.
> Yours in curiosity,
> -----Original Message-----
> techwr-l-bounces+gordon -dot- mclean=grahamtechnology -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+gordon -dot- mclean=grahamtechnology -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
> om] On Behalf Of Dori Green
> Sent: 13 March 2007 14:41
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: Pet Peeves
> Everybody who makes their living using language really should take it upon
> themselves to become informed about sexist and racist language, and delete
> it from their vocabulary.
> I've recently seen "rule of thumb" and "dog and pony show" right here on
> this list. Look 'em up, and cut 'em out.
> It's the recipient who determines whether or not the message is clear --
> hurtful. When we have been informed that certain words and phrases are
> hurtful, we need to stop using them.
> Dori Green
Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList
Now shipping: Help & Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help & Manual: http://www.helpandmanual.com
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-