Re: master & slave ad nauseam (let's stop, shall we?)

Subject: Re: master & slave ad nauseam (let's stop, shall we?)
From: Karen Mulholland <kemulholland -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 08:33:00 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks to Mike West, Yves Jaurond, John Posada, and
Darren Butler for making some more good and valid
points in this discussion - and apologies to everyone
who's sick of it. :-)

I am wary of saying "the problem must be with some
members of the audience" (even when it's probably
true), as I am wary of saying "my job is to be as
accurate as possible".

I believe my job is to *communicate effectively* -
which encompasses being as accurate as readers need
and accommodating my audience to the degree that I can
without straying from the original goal. I think that
if my work elicits an emotional reaction, that
detracts from its effectiveness.

I believe that there are two ways that we technical
communicators most often elicit that unwanted
emotional reaction - one is to use language that perks
up the antennae of the professionally offended; the
other is to patronize or insult the intelligence of
our readers by catering to the professionally
offended. (Excellent point, Darren - you are exactly
right. Ask me about phrases like "people who are
pregnant". :-)

One of the ways we prove our worth to our employers is
by writing clear, accurate prose that avoids both
these pitfalls.

Over the years I have found that when I encounter a
sentence or phrase that doesn't sit right with me or
with one of my reviewers, it's usually most effective
to "write around the problem". In the course of this
discussion, it's become clear to me that "master" and
"slave" *are* the right words; the way to write around
any perceived problem these words is to use them as
adjectives. So our application note will discuss
master MagicBoxes and slave MagicBoxes. No problem

"No problem" is the ideal outcome - far better than
"trivial problem", "imaginary problem", or "your
problem". So it's what I aim for. I don't always
achieve ideal outcomes, but I can't *ever* achieve the
ideal without striving for it.

Again, thanks to all who contributed to this thread!
All of you helped me to clarify my own thinking on
this question.


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