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

Subject: RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"
From: "Pinkham, Jim" <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com>
To: "Tim J. Slager" <TSlager -at- isdcorporation -dot- com>, "Ned Bedinger" <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:22:27 -0500

"Do you see a man that is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." -- Solomon.

-----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] On Behalf Of Tim J. Slager
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 2:05 PM
To: Ned Bedinger
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"

Yes, you are right: it is a common phrase in English, not particular to any one group (although there may be English-speaking groups for whom it is not common). Cliché might be a better term, though I suppose then one might have to demonstrate that the phrase is trite.

By Socratic I was referring to Socrates' perspective of himself:
"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance" (Diogenes).
"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing" (Plato).

The oracle declared him the wisest man in Athens because he understood he was a complete idiot. :)

tims

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+tslager=isdcorporation -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+tslager=isdcorporation -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Ned Bedinger
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 1:36 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing"

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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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
Re: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Ned Bedinger
RE: Question about "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing": From: Tim J. Slager

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