RE: Pet Peeves

Subject: RE: Pet Peeves
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Diane Brennan" <dalaine00 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 12:22:03 -0600

Diane Brennan wrote:

> >1. "The"
> >John set his user settings
> >--> John set the user settings
> I always choose this construction. It's the easiest way
> around the gender issue. Technical writing has nothing to do
> with my personal feelings about using gender-specific
> pronouns. It is about communicating information to customers
> in the most effective way possible.

I almost followed up my own previous comment on this, because I forgot
another important point. Since you bring up effectiveness, I'll make it

In the above example, replacing the pronoun with "the" _reduces_ the
effectiveness of the communication. Which settings did John set? The
settings for all users? For his minions? For clients and customers? Or
just for himself?

In the original, it's perfectly clear.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Re: Pet Peeves: From: Diane Brennan

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