RE: Concision?

Subject: RE: Concision?
From: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>
To: "Odile Sullivan-Tarazi" <odile -at- mindspring -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2008 08:25:56 -0400

Well said. I enjoyed reading your "rambling."


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi [mailto:odile -at- mindspring -dot- com]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:51 PM
> To: Pinkham, Jim
> Cc: Cardimon, Craig; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: RE: Concision?
> True enough. We've all seen writing that overreaches. Sometimes the
> writer hasn't fully mastered the material, sometimes the writer
> hasn't fully mastered (yet) the trick of writing, sometimes whoever
> did the writing isn't actually a writer. And in our world, of
> course, time is often a factor.
> For me, though, the tip-off is the lack of control over the level of
> diction. Rather than holding steady and true, it wavers. There's
> seldom just one word out of place: sentences aren't measured,
> passages don't flow, the language careens between slang, jargon,
> informality, formality, pomposity. Well and sometimes, particularly
> on the Internet, the language is just plain pompous. That's when you
> want to head in with a machete.
> But if the writing is clean and crisp and clear, if it's good, one or
> two unusual words don't throw me. They must fit though. They must
> be the right words, in the right context, for that particular
> thought. If they best convey what is to be conveyed, they ought not
> to be tossed out in obedience to some misapplied, or misapprehended,
> edict.
> I'm speaking in general, and about writing in general. I know that
> we must be more cautious in technical writing about introducing
> unfamiliar words, unless we intend to introduce and explain a
> particular concept. What's familiar has all to do with audience of
> course. "Concision" is a word well familiar to me, and so I was
> puzzled by the response. I'm pretty sure you'd not argue to replace,
> in a like piece of writing, "precision" with "preciseness."
> As for steering clear of the expensive words, as I said, for my own
> part I notice this particularly when the writing isn't even, when it
> doesn't maintain a steady level of diction. What jars on my ears is
> the piece of technical writing that reaches out to me in the familiar
> second person, that employs an informal style, a seemingly casual
> tone, and then suddenly comes a "thus" or a "therefore." Not unusual
> words, in and of themselves, but terribly out of place.
> And when this is the case, it's seldom one oddball word that
> constitutes the entirety of the problem. Entire phrases of odd
> construction (frequently overly convoluted, abstruse, pompous) call
> attention to themselves, needing very much to be shaken out and
> brought back down to earth.
> Well, anyway, I ramble. Just thinking aloud.
> Odile
> p.s.
> I've not read any Southey, but that's a nice quote.
> At 11:44 AM -0500 10/29/08, Pinkham, Jim wrote:
> >Points well-taken, Odile, and I agree, even to your thoughts on
> >Southey's quote. Don't puzzle overmuch: I'm not saying "concision"
> >has merit. It just jarred my ear a bit. Sometimes we get lost in the
> >50-cent words when the cheaper ones will do as well or better. But
> >always.
> >
> >Jim
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi [mailto:odile -at- mindspring -dot- com]
> >Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:22 AM
> >To: Pinkham, Jim
> >Cc: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi; Cardimon, Craig;
techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> >Subject: RE: Concision?
> >
> >
> >Ah, but context, context is all. There is a time to be terse, pithy,
> >bare. And a time to be concise, to convey eloquently with concision.
> >
> >The writer's ear must always be sensitive to context. The words have
> >sound and a feel, as well as a sense. They have a rhythm.
> >
> >I was more puzzled, than anything else, to see a perfectly good word
> >slashed for no good reason. In your quote below, you will notice
> >Anglo-Saxon words mixed with Latinate terms to good effect.
> >
> >
> >Odile
> >
> >
> >
> >At 11:01 AM -0500 10/29/08, Pinkham, Jim wrote:
> >>I'm sure they do. I'm chuckling now a bit that you're taking this so
> >>seriously. No offense.
> >>
> >>Sorry, but when I read concision, the next word that came to mind
> >>"circumcision," and there, perhaps, I'd go for the Latin formation
> >>avoid some blunter Anglo-Saxon alternative, if such there be.
> >>
> >>But, generally, I agree with Orwell: Use words that convey images.
> >
> >>it simple and direct. Use the good, crisp, clear Anglo-Saxon words.
> >>Don't seek concision. Be concise. Better yet, be brief. Terse.
> > >
> >>Jim
> >>
> >>*********************************
> >>"If thou wouldst be pungent, be brief. For it is with words as with
> >>sunbeams: the more they are condensed, the more they burn." --
> >>Southey.
> >>
> >>-----Original Message-----
> >>From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi [mailto:odile -at- mindspring -dot- com]
> >>Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:45 AM
> >>To: Pinkham, Jim
> >>Cc: Cardimon, Craig; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> >>Subject: RE: Concision?
> >>
> >>
> >>But why? It is not archaic. Its meaning in the sense of a cutting
> >>or off is archaic. Its meaning as the quality or state of being
> >>concise is not. And in AH, the order of those two entries is
> >>reversed: concision as the quality or state of being concise is
> >>first.
> >>
> >>The second book I cited, _Style: Toward Clarity and Grace_, is put
> >>by the University of Chicago Press as part of their guide to
> >>editing, and publishing series. These guys know a little something
> >>about word choice.
> >>
> >>
> >>Odile
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>At 9:57 AM -0500 10/29/08, Pinkham, Jim wrote:
> >>>I think the New Oxford Guide editors should go back to Orwell's
> >>>"Politics and the English Language" and dispense with words such as
> >>>"concision" altogether. But I have no wish to start a dictionary or
> >>>style skirmish. This was, as I said, just a good-natured tweak.
> >>>
> >>>Best,
> >>>Jim
> >>>
> >>>-----Original Message-----
> >>>From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi [mailto:odile -at- mindspring -dot- com]
> >>>Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 9:46 AM
> >>>To: Pinkham, Jim
> >>>Cc: Cardimon, Craig; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> >>>Subject: Re: Concision?
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>No, I think he meant "concision," a more precise (and concise) word
> >>>than "conciseness."
> >>>
> >>>See, for instance, _The New Oxford Guide to Writing_ or _Style:
> >>>Toward Clarity and Grace, the latter of which devotes an entire
> >>>chapter
> >>
> >>>to concision.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>Odile
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>At 8:40 AM -0500 10/29/08, Pinkham, Jim wrote:
> >>>>"Concision," huh? I thought you meant "conciseness," and I had to
> >>>>look the two up.
> >>>>
> >>>>Merriam-Webster dates "concision" back to the 14th century, but
> >>>>first listed rendering is archaic, "a cutting up or off," and then
> >>>>the
> >>
> >>>>second rendering, of indeterminate origin, gets at conciseness.
> >>>>"Conciseness," on the other hand, dates to around 1590 and has the
> >>>>definition I suspect you meant: "marked by brevity of expression
> >>>>statement."
> >>>>
> >>>>So accurate, brief, clear -- that's what we value. Hmm...and
> >>>>just suggested law?? :)
> >>>>
> >>>>OK, enough tweaking...back to work.
> >>>>
> >>>>Respectfully,
> >>>>Jim
> >>>>
> >>>>-----Original Message-----
> >>>>From: techwr-l-bounces+jim -dot- pinkham=voith -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> >>>>[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jim -dot- pinkham=voith -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]
> >
> >>>>Behalf Of Cardimon, Craig
> >>>>Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:15 AM
> >>>>To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> >>>>Subject: RE: Career transition away from tech writing
> >>>>
> >>>>> I'm thinking about leaving the field of technical writing
> >>>>> I'm
> >> >very
> >>>>
> >>>>> interested in learning about the jobs other technical
> >have
> >>>>> transitioned to. Project management, training, and user
> >>>>> experience
> >>>>seem
> >>>>> to be the more common transitions, but are there other areas
> >>may
> >>>>> have ventured into?
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Thank you.
> >>>>
> >>>>I would bet this comes up more often than one might think. How
> >>>any
> >>>>field that values concision, clarity, and precision. To these I
> >>>>attention to detail and the ability to organize one's thoughts.
> >>>>
> >>>>Craig
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RE: Career transition away from tech writing: From: Cardimon, Craig
Concision?: From: Pinkham, Jim
Re: Concision?: From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi
RE: Concision?: From: Pinkham, Jim
RE: Concision?: From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi
RE: Concision?: From: Pinkham, Jim
RE: Concision?: From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi
RE: Concision?: From: Pinkham, Jim
RE: Concision?: From: Odile Sullivan-Tarazi

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