RE: Pet Peeves

Subject: RE: Pet Peeves
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 15:35:05 -0400

Avram Baskin offered:

> Sorry to jump in so late to this discussion, especially since
> the original
> topic (pet peeves) has morphed into other threads.
> I agree with Dori. I recently posted a questionnaire on
> TECHWR-L. One of
> the questions asked if the respondent had a "rule of thumb"
> they followed to
> determine the optimal number of items for procedure steps or
> lists. An
> early respondent replied with an explanation of the sexist
> connotation of
> "rule of thumb". I did a little research and found some of the same
> "debunking" web sites that have been referenced in this discussion.
> However, I opted to change the question (I changed "rule of thumb"
> to"guideline") because right or wrong, it was clear that some
> people believe
> the term has a sexist connotation.

Then "some people" are in _drastic_ need of a clue.
Simple as that.

They've latched onto the equivalent of an urban myth and run with it.

Do not dignify them - we and our language lose when absurdities are
propagated and dignified.

*I* am offended by knee-jerk political correctness.
I know I'm not alone.
What I _hope_ is that I'm not in the minority... especially on a list
of professional writer-editor bods, who should have some sympathy for
our poor, battered language.

For what it's worth, I've been hearing and reading "rule of thumb"
used to mean "rough working principle" or approximation or even
guideline for much, much longer than there has been a web on which
you could look it up. My good old reliable printed (as in paper)
Concise Oxford Dictionary Ninth Edition says:
rule of thumb n. a rule for general guidance, based on experience
or practice, rather than theory.

That's good enough for me.

Kevin (just checking in to the list for the daily dose of 'irate')

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