Re: and/or?

Subject: Re: and/or?
From: <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il>,<techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 7:08:19 -0400

Mark, language is full of well-defined expressions that
introduce or indicate ambiguity or uncertainty. "Or" itself
can reside in a true statement where it indicates missing
research: "The source code for the project is in C++ or C#."
Indeed, this example is improved slightly by replacing "or"
with "and/or" which then highlights the difficulty to those
who recognize it as a sentinel of muddy thinking.

Just in case someone doesn't see the problem, my statement
above could variously mean:
1. Either C++ or C# (but not both) will be used.
2. C++ and C# are being used together.
3. We've not decided yet, and are trying to weasel past the
two teams of design reviewers, one of which champions C++
and the other C#.
4. We are writing for management, or to meet a government spec.
5. We are testing to see if anyone's awake and reading this

Does anyone have a counter-example, in which and/or serves
as a paragon of clarity?
--Peter Neilson

Mark L. Levinson continues to defend and/or:
> Raj wrote:
> > Technical documentation does not have any place for
> > ambiguities like "and/or".
> Like any expression, it can be used sloppily.
> But Merriam-Webster has no trouble defining it.
> The Microsoft Encarta dictionary has no
> trouble defining it. The American Heritage
> dictionary has no trouble defining it. If
> it's ambiguous in context, I think that's
> the fault of the writer rather than of
> the expression.


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