Re: Responsible use of Obviously

Subject: Re: Responsible use of Obviously
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1993 10:56:36 CDT


Your experience reminded me of the phrase used by some
mathematics text authors " is intuitively obvious that ..."

This phrase usually appeared in informal proofs of mathematical
theorems. On occasion, the step succeeding the assertion was obvious.
More often, however, the phrase was used to bypass a laborous proof or
discussion of such a proof.

In teaching texts, the phrase served a useful purpose.
Temporarily bypassing a proof to explore the "big picture." Later,
the bypassed proof was posed as a student exercise.

So, sometimes the phrase was correct, sometimes a labor saver
for the writer, and sometimes a teaching aid.

In technical writing, I agree, the terms obvious and obviously
are time wasters or sops to the writer's ego. If something is truely
obvious, show it in a figure or omit it. If something is not obvious,
don't puff yourself up by saying it is. Either way, obvious and
obviously are, to me, irritants.

Best Regards,

__ ________ ______
|\\ | || // Chuck Banks
| \\ | ||_______ || Senior Technical Writer
| \\ | || || NEC America, Inc.
| \\| \\______ \\______ E-Mail: chuck -at- asl -dot- dl -dot- nec -dot- com
America, Incorporated CompuServe: 72520,411

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