Re: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?

Subject: Re: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?
From: "Elisa R. Sawyer" <elisawyer -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:21:25 -0700

Lauren asked:

Do technical writers have an ethical duty to validate their assumptions
about the context and rules of an instruction before asserting their
assumptions as rules in a document? Or is it ethical to make the
assumptions and then require an SME to validate accuracy?

I think the answer is always, "It depends," because we often must adapt to
the habits of our SMEs.

In addition, occasionally we work for long enough within a company or
domain that we become experts in some areas.

-Elisa

On Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 2:28 PM, Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net> wrote:

> On 4/26/2017 9:38 PM, Dave C wrote:
>
>> Itâs very fun and entertaining to guess at the original authorâs meaning,
>> but isnât time to ask the client, a SME, to clarify?
>>
>> Weâve come up with several *possible* answers, but only one is correct.
>>
>
> We do not know if âoneâ is correct, the answers could all be wrong. This
> thread raises questions for me about technical writers.
>
> Do technical writers have an ethical duty to validate their assumptions
> about the context and rules of an instruction before asserting their
> assumptions as rules in a document? Or is it ethical to make the
> assumptions and then require an SME to validate accuracy?
>
> My point in my first post in this thread was when I pointed out that the
> phrase had multiple meanings and that context was necessary to determine
> what the scientist was trying to say. I donât know why people continued to
> argue math (with errors) when context of the phrase was vague. The original
> question was about correct usage of âbyâ or âtimesâ in a phrase that called
> for multiplication. The discussion of grammar could not begin until the
> science was clear, and it was not. We could only speculate meaning but that
> is enough for the purposes of discussion.
>
> What is enlightening is that there are many technical writers here who do
> not know the significance of basic math theory. In this discussion, there
> were many misstatements of math rules concerning the significance of the
> usage of âbyâ and âtimesâ; these words do not mean the same thing. I hope
> that the OP defers the language used for math to the SMEs.
>
> One thing I have learned in this thread is why teaching math arrays today
> is so important. When people think that 2 x 3 = 6 means the same thing at 3
> x 2 = 6 because the result is the same, we have a problem. While the
> similarity works in simple math theory, it does not work in advanced math
> theory and it does not work in grammar, as it gives the same meaning to
> each, the multiplicand and the multiplier, calling each an âoperand.â This
> is wrong in basic math and basic grammar.
>
> Multiplicand and multiplier are operands but that is not the final
> reduction of their significance. You multiply the multiplicand *by* the
> multiplier to get the product. The product of multiplication is the
> multiplier *times* the multiplicand.
>
> Third grade math arrays show this better.
>
> 1 1 \
> 1 1 This array means 3 by 2, or 2 times 3.
> 1 1 /
>
> 1 1 1 \
> 1 1 1 / This array means 2 by 3, or 3 times 2.
>
> Both arrays equal 6 but they get there different ways. In simple math, 1 =
> 1; in advanced math and in science, 1 may be a container for something
> else, like a complex set of operations. Repeating an operation three times
> on a thing valued at 2 is not the same as repeating the same operation
> twice on a thing valued at 3.
>
> I am amazed at the example this discussion has shown. Writers argued math
> and did it wrong, they also made assumptions about the science behind the
> phrase being discussed that led to wrong conclusions about the process
> being documented. A writer following such bad advice could mislead the
> users of the document.
>
> Here is a good (and simple) example of what I have been saying about
> multiplication and that 2 x 3 and 3 x 2 are *not* the same.
>
> http://www.crewtonramoneshouseofmath.com/multiplicand-and-multiplier.html
>
> I like this statement...
>
> âBut the product, that is, the amount you get after you multiply is the
> same so why bother even talking about it? Why is there debate? Why is one
> more/most correct?
>
> Because numbers describe reality numerically thatâs why.
>
> The order is universally LxWxH.
>
> Carpenters who stray from this find themselves in trouble, and might end
> up making doors for some very corpulent midgets.â
>
>
>
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--
Elisa Rood Sawyer
~~~~~^~~~~~
Technical and Creative Writer
"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today." Mark Twain
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?: From: Emoto
RE: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?: From: Lauren
Re: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?: From: Dave C
Re: Grammar: "Multiply by" or "Multiply times"?: From: Lauren

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