Subject: We
From: Mark Levinson <mark -at- MATIS -dot- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 11:31:19 IST

The problem with the first-person plural is its ambiguity.
Even at its best, in a document not explicitly signed by a team it
doesn't refer clearly to anything. (Is it one writer using an editorial
we? Is it the product team? Is it the corporation?)

Too easily, the word can tend toward irritating smarminess in pretending
to include the reader when it doesn't, or in pretending to include the writer
when it doesn't. ("Let's look at our next example.")

And at its worst, it tends to deteriorate into what
Thurber called the "clinical we," meaning simply "you"
(as in "Have we taken our medicine this cheery morning?").

In general, we oppose the first-person plural.
Mark L. Levinson, SEE Technologies, Box 544, Herzlia, Israel
mark -at- matis -dot- ingr -dot- com | voice +972-9-584684, ext. 230 | fax +972-9-543917

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