Re: Are tech writers inherently snobby?

Subject: Re: Are tech writers inherently snobby?
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 12:19:31 -0700

Keith Hood wrote:
> And besides, arrogance is not necessarily synonymous with
> "insulting" or "offensive." It's a multi-faceted condition
> with a myriad of symptoms. Some of them can be amusing to
> the outside observer.

I'm probably veering off-topic, but...

The sense of the uncountable noun "arrogance" is supposed to be about
the arrogation. Arrogant people are arrogant because they arrogate
something. Wiktionary ties it to a 100 yo dictionary definition that
mentions the arrogation by the arrogant of some sort of superiority or
entitlement when they are not due that distinction.

For example, a co-worker moved into my desk at the office while I was
working off-site for an extended period. When I came back to the office,
she contended that she made better use of my desk than I did, therefore
etc. She arrogated my desk, sort of like an urban homesteader claiming
squatter's rights and taking a proprietary interest in abandoned
property. My perception of what this arrogation called for could have
been some knee-jerk passive or aggressive emotional thing, or I could
have drawn of the limited palette of "people skills" that are so prized
by office workers who try very hard not to let the people at work get
under their skin.

The OP who got arrogant emails seems to be conflating arrogance with
something like "aggressiveness" -- what I get from the problem
description is that if you interact with an arrogant person, you will be
slimed by the offensive presumptuousness and pretentiousness of their
attitude, which they actively export, to the dismay of every schlemiel
who crosses their path.

That conflation is odd. It's true, arrogance is hard to hide, like
nose-in-the-air snootiness or snobbery, but how it affects the person
exposed to it isn't really an attribute of arrogance, it is an attribute
of that person. I like your excellent gesture toward the bemused
reaction. Calmness makes going to the office bearable. If I chose to get
angry about every potential insult to my sovereign dignity, I'd be spent
and in full retreat in a matter of weeks, with high walls around myself
and high guardedness about who and what I let in. What a drag, to be a
cold fish in an office full of cold fish. Better to be bemused by it
all. Bemused is one of the things that beats the rat race. Tech writers
should have "Bemused By It All" t-shirts to dispel our reputation as snobs.

BTW, I threw that "uncountable" comment in because I'm inspired by
strangeness of the light it casts on English. If it was over the top and
difficult to read in this context, I'm glad you punched thru it.


Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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Re: Are tech writers inherently snobby?: From: Keith Hood

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