Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs

Subject: Re: passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs
From: Kathleen MacDowell <kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2012 18:54:46 -0500

In the past it was favored in academia (and other fields) to imply a
neutral position or perhaps a position of higher knowledge. That was the
way I learned to write in grad school, although the approach seemed to
change over time.

Exactly why? If I knew I've forgotten, so your guess is as good as mine.
But lack of responsibility doesn't fit with the academic approach (although
sheer lack of caution sometimes does).

On Sat, Oct 20, 2012 at 5:26 PM, McLauchlan, Kevin <
Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:

> Well, we've had the discussion before, but does anybody remember
> (even confined to some niche) a good reason for using passive voice?
>
> Unlike some, I don't shriek and begin to wither when I or someone
> occasionally uses passive voice (sunshine on a vampire...).
> Although, I admit, my skin begins to crawl when passive voice is
> strung together through paragraph after paragraph, page after page.
>
> So, not counting the minor writerly affectation of applying it sparingly,
> to inject some variety into one's writing, is there any reason for
> employing
> large gobs of passive voice that doesn't come back to avoidance of
> responsibility?
>
> As far as I'm concerned, and until I'm... ahem.... actively persuaded
> otherwise, passive voice was (still is?) beloved of bureau'rats
> (the "c" is silent) because it is embraced as a cloak of anonymity
> and a way to deflect and diffuse (also defuse) blame.
>
> Is there any other (legitimate) reason to prefer passive voice?
> (And please don't say "because the customer/your boss wants
> it that way" - because then I'll say, then what is THEIR reason
> for wanting it that way. And you'll say "it doesn't matter, they're
> the ones paying the bills", and I'll say, it matters to me or I wouldn't
> have asked the question. I want to know if I should automatically
> harbo[u]r diminished respect for whoever demands passive voice
> as the default, or could they have a reason other than evasion of
> blame/responsibility as a defining cultural trait?
>
> It goes toward TW self-respect and not feeling like a total hack
> in how you earn your daily bread.
>
> Becca said
> ...
> > I do think that the numbered and indented paragraphs aren't the best
> > way to do things... but then, what people are writing and calling
> > procedures aren't what I would call a procedure... there's very little
> > "do this... do this next step" in them. Most of them are written
> > passive voice (and I'm getting a lot of push-back when I try to write
> > them in active).
> >
> > I'm doing the best with what I've been given, but I have very little
> > (read,none) influence over the finished projects.
> >
>
>
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--
Kathleen MacDowell
kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Writer Tip: You have more time to author content with Doc-To-Help, because your project can be up and running in 3 steps.

See the &#8220;Getting Started with Doc-To-Help&#8221; blog post. http://bit.ly/doc-to-help-3-steps
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References:
passive voice (was RE: Numbering paragraphs: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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