and/or (take II)

Subject: and/or (take II)
From: Eddie Hollon <eddiehollon -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 01:35:13 -0700 (PDT)

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Geoff's comments
on the and/or debate. Simply stated, the construction
is the result of lazy authoring and/or lazy editing
(pardon the pun). As Geoff stated, the two words do
not have the same meaning. One differentiates, while
the other combines.

For example, how clear is this sentence, "A driver's
license and/or passport is required." Which is
required...are both required?

I used to see this construction all the time when I
worked in government contracting. In those situations,
the construction could actually lead to legal
problems, because it doesn't clearly specify the
author's intent.

Take this common passage, for example:

> The contractor will supply and/or procure the

When the government wants to take the contractor to
court because it missed deadlines for delivering the
XBJ123s, the ambiguity of the and/or construction
makes it a tough call. Is the contractor responsible
for the delivery schedule (they are if they are
supplying the parts from their own stock) or is a
third-party subcontractor responsible (this can be the
case if the parts are procured).

Ambiguity and technical writing should be
diametrically opposed. As such, the and/or
construction should be mercilessly hacked by diligent
and conscientious writers and editors everywhere.

Eddie Hollon
Suwon, South Korea

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