Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"

Subject: Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 10:36:19 -0700

On 06/22/2011 06:00 AM, Tim J. Slager wrote:

> Of course, "complete idiot" is an idiomatic phrase.

Merriam-Webster defines an idiom as having a meaning that cannot be
derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements. If there is
something odd about the expression "complete idiot", it isn't that it is
idiomatic. It stands out because it is hackneyed, a cliche, imho.

And Socratic.

Socratic would answer a question with a question, so it isn't Socratic
either, is it?

The title is an example of the classical Greek rhetorical device
of hyperbole, the use of extreme exaggeration to emphasize and draw
attention to something. Hyperbole is a nice tool for ridiculing
something--the "Complete Idiot..." title is cast that way to suggest
self-effacing humor. If it had been called the "Idiot's Guide" then I
think it would have been less hyperbolic, ergo less attention-getting.
Ironically, it would also have been more objectionable.


Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


>
> tims
>
> From: Tony Chung [mailto:tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca]
> Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:44 PM
> To: McLauchlan, Kevin
> Cc: Tim J. Slager; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"
>
> On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 8:40 AM, McLauchlan, Kevin <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com<mailto:Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>> wrote:
> Having already decided not to buy any of them, I
> still read "Complete Idiot's..." as a phrase
> modifying "Guide".
>
> You're right Kevin. "Complete" modifies Idiot. "Complete Idiot's" modifies Guide.
>
>
> So... um... techwriter-ish question:
>
> How could it have been modified in order to ensure
> the desired clustering of modifiers in the mind of
> the average reader? Any punctuation you can think
> of that might have worked with the same word-order
> to adjust the emPHAsis? Any word order that would
> have done the job without hopelessly contorting
> the title?
>
> The Complete Guide to {noteworthy subject} for the Everyday Idiot.
>
> The Guide to {noteworthy subject} That Makes You LESS of an Idiot.
>
> The {noteworthy subject} Guide to bash the Idiot out of All of Us.
>
> heh heh.
>
> -Tony
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Krista Van Laan
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: McLauchlan, Kevin
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Tim J. Slager
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Tony Chung
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Tim J. Slager

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