RE: Wrong? Poor style? OK?

Subject: RE: Wrong? Poor style? OK?
From: David Hailey <david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu>
To: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>, techwr-l mailinglist <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:57:44 -0600

Hi Janice and all,

Janice said:
*At the risk of reopening a really ugly common argument on here about "you," the only time that "you" might be inappropriate imho is if you are writing a document addressed to developers who are developing applications for an end user and you are talking about the ultimate end user and not the potential reader.*

I think you are right, and completely agree.
_______

*"You may only save the test results on the C drive" means that you can only save, not extract (or whatever other action you can't do).*

It's still ambiguous: it can also mean
the only thing you can do is save the test results -- you may not eat, pass go or anything else:
the test results are all you can save on the C drive -- you may not save the questions there:
the C drive is the only place you can save the test results -- you may not save them on D.
______

*You may save only the test results on the C drive"
means that you can't save anything else you might be contemplating saving on the C drive except test results.*

Still ambiguous:
Don't save anything but the test results on the C drive, but you might save the test results on additional drives.

_______

*The option you haven't provided is:
You may save the test results only on the C drive. Which, of course, means nowhere else.*

This seems clear to me. I think this makes its point unambiguously.

In the end, in my post I was repeating a point I have made a number of times in the past -- there is not a correct way to write; there are a number of different options that are more or less appropriate for different situations. The forum was recently discussing plural possessives. I heard all of these prescriptions on how it should be done, as if there were some kind of inflexible law. I pointed out that all of the style guides disagree with each other on this topic. One of them doesn't even bring it up.

Thinking about what you are doing and being flexible is much more useful than following old opinions or prescriptions. It applies to plural possessives and it applies to passive voice.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify.


David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Professional and Technical Communication
Utah State University

david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu
1 435 797 2741

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: Nancy Allison
RE: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: Combs, Richard
RE: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: David Hailey
Re: Wrong? Poor style? OK?: From: Janice Gelb

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