RE: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology

Subject: RE: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology
From: Karen Mulholland <kemulholland -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 13:07:09 -0700 (PDT)

Richard, I understand and agree with your point -
political correctness can stifle meaningful

But there's more to it than that. I can't speak for
the engineer, but my own queasiness doesn't stem from
either of the causes you suggest - your list of valid
reasons for discomfort is incomplete.

Partly I'm bothered because the terms "master" and
"slave" seem unduly anthropomorphic.
Partly it's that I know people, let's just
stick with the anthropomorphism issue. ;-)

Leaving aside my own feelings, my coworker the
engineer is uncomfortable with the term. It does not
matter *why* he is uncomfortable with it. If he had an
irrational phobia of the verb "configure", I'd be
equally concerned with helping him find a synonym that
didn't bother him.

This is not about political correctness; it's about
responding to a colleague's stated discomfort, and
using language that doesn't make people uncomfortable.
It's not an abstract problem of "somebody somewhere
may take offense"; it is a case of "this gentleman
sitting in my office would rather use a different set
of words in his own writing."

I do this job to help technical people communicate,
and telling this engineer that his emotional response
to these words isn't valid or should be disregarded
doesn't strike me as a good way to do that.

It can be a fine line between respecting people's
feelings and being politically correct; I think the
dividing line is where it stops being hypothetical. In
this case I am striving for courtesy, not correctness.


--- "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>

> Karen Mulholland wrote:
> > What would you call the unit that controls the
> other one?
> Master.
> > What would you call the one that is under control
> of the first one?
> Slave.
> Why are you and your engineer made queasy by
> perfectly good English
> words being used in a way completely consistent with
> their meanings?
> Were you, the engineer, or members of your audience
> ever masters or
> slaves, and thus feel awkward about the concept? Or
> is it just that you
> embrace the concepts of collective guilt and "the
> sins of the fathers"?
> Richard
> ------
> Richard G. Combs
> Senior Technical Writer
> Polycom, Inc.
> richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
> 303-223-5111
> ------
> rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
> 303-777-0436
> ------


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RE: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology: From: Combs, Richard

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