Re: symptom?

Subject: Re: symptom?
From: "Susan Hogarth" <hogarth -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 12:15:46 -0400

On 3/14/07, Milan Davidovic <shl_ctf -at- yahoo -dot- ca> wrote:
> When humans are sick, we can say they display
> *symptoms*.

Actually... that's only partly true. They *experience* symptoms. They
display *signs*.

In another life I was a plant pathologist. It's slightly different for
plants - which might help with the machine analogy:

Example from

"A close-up examination of a tree within the damaged area reveals
large portions of the
leaves are missing. This symptom is the plant's appearance due to the
feeding of the
gypsy moth.
We visibly see the gypsy moth larvae feeding on the leaf. This is a
sign or evidence of
the causal agent of the symptoms."

> When machines are "sick", they display
> ____?

I'm not sure it makes sense to speak of machines as becoming 'sick',
except in a highly metaphorical way which might be more confusing than

> I'm reading some text about a device performing a
> self-test. As the device performs each step of the
> self test, the operator is supposed to watch for
> particular problems.

Which in a machine are malfunctions, not illness.

> For example, one of the steps is
> that the screen lights up completely. The "symptom" to
> watch for is dark spots or lines.
> Would you use the word "symptom" in this instance?

"Evidence" or possibly "sign". Symptom is too anthropomorphic, I think.

Susan Hogarth

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symptom?: From: Milan Davidovic

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