Re: Pet Peeves

Subject: Re: Pet Peeves
From: "elizabeth j allen" <eja -at- samurai -dot- com>
To: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 08:37:15 -0400 (EDT)

Well said Gene.

If we go with the logic as presented, does that mean we shouldn't refer to
the Ringling Bros. show as a "circus" because the original term referred
to an event where the Romans fed Christians to lions and other such acts
of cruelty and torture?

If not, how long do we have to wait before a word with possible spurious
origins is deemed safe and unoffensive enough to use in the common tongue?


<personal opinion based on my experience>
As someone who has survived abuse and has experienced the painful
repercussions of the legacy of slavery in her own family and lifetime, I
most sincerely offer up the option of getting over it. I found for myself
that being wounded often made me much more sensitive to words and actions
that others intended to be innocuous but hit a nerve with me. My choices
were to withdraw so I wouldn't be subjected, inflict my suffering on
others by making them alter their behaviour so I wouldn't have to deal
with it, or go into the wound and heal it. Making other people feel guilty
for using words that reminded me of my suffering didn't really lessen my
suffering in any way and often made folks who might otherwise support me
feel rebuffed.

How does this last fit into technical writing? When we, as authors,
attempt to impose our personal agenda on people around us, we stray from
the path of clear and effective communication.

No matter how strong the emotions we are feeling, we need to learn to set
them aside and write objectively. Projecting our beliefs into our work is
not appropriate, no matter how strong the emotion behind them. Use the
words that best convey your meaning and move on.

If that isn't possible, perhaps folks should consider if this is the right
line of work for them.

Elizabeth J. Allen
Technical Writer
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

Gene Kim-Eng said:
> If I held off writing just because I thought "anybody" might be
> offended I might as well unsub from the list and retire right now.
> I'm sure that over the years any number of people have been
> offended by something I've said, whether it involved any phrases
> whose real meanings had been co-opted by someone with an
> agenda or not. If we all follow the guidance to avoid something
> because someone, somewhere might take offense, we reduce
> language to its lowest common denominator in the same way
> that certain groups want to reduce everything else in the world.
> No thanks. If someone is offended by something I say or write
> that is not offensive except to someone who doesn't know what
> they're hearing or reading, I'll just have to live with the knowledge
> that someone ignorant doesn't like what I have to say.
> Gene Kim-Eng


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RE: Pet Peeves: From: Dori Green
Re: Pet Peeves: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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