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Subject:Re: COMPUTER WORDS From:Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 6 Oct 1993 16:59:22 -0500
Debbie Smith talks about terminology:
> As far as terminology goes, when I was taking courses for tech writing, my
> teacher told us she made quite a few enemies lobbying for standardization
> of terms within the industry.
Within the *industry*? You are lucky and hardworking if you can effect
standardization of terminology in your own *company*. New words and
terms proliferate at such a breakneck pace, you need a well-defined
process to control their use, even internally. And given the work that
it entails, and the many sources of proliferating terms, this is
extremely difficult. I would love to hear of an effective way to do this
within a company - suggestions for doing it industry-wide would, in my
estimation, be so resource-consumptive as to be prohibitive.
Not to say we shouldn't *try*, ahem.
> Adding to the problem is that many companies won't change to a better
> style, even if their current style is bad. One company's excuse for not
> changing to a better style: they didn't want to confuse people and wanted
> continuity in their "look" - never mind that their writing style guidelines
> forces one to write in the passive voice.
Oooooh. That *is* bad medicine. (I *hate* the passive voice in technical
There is something to this "look and feel business", and only *some* of
it involves copyright infringement issues. My guess is that fully half
of analyzing audience needs successfully means that you create documents
which meet audience expectations.
This is not to say that just because audiences *expect* bad writing we
should *give* them bad writing. However, consistency in a large library
of many technical documents, some of which may be updated on a modular
basis, makes it difficult to change this policy in some cases without
sacrificing consistency. And in multi-volume doc libraries, consistency
is extremely important.
And I really do sympathize if that means they are forcing you to write
passive constructions. I would be torn.
> Anyone have comments on term standardization within the industry?
A marvelous idea; a fantastic vision for the future; *extremely*
difficult to implement, even within companies; very expensive WRT the
amount of resources required; probably worth working towards, at least
within your own company; concentrate on the process; prepare to be
frustrated - repeatedly.
On an unrelated topic - I heartily encourage any and all discussion of
sexism, racism, euro-centrism, and any other "ism" within this forum.
Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything. And, I've found over the
years, the clear light of day and the free and open exchange of
information has a tendency to expose weaknesses, propose improvements,
and impose solutions like nothing else now available as a substitute.
IMHO, of course. If it weren't for opinions, this group would have *NO*
|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"That boy's about as sharp as a sack|
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA|o' wet mice." - Foghorn Leghorn |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|