TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: passives, etc. From:Don M Chaffee <dchaffee -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM> Date:Sat, 5 Feb 1994 00:19:07 GMT
Michael Spooner <MSPOONER -at- cc -dot- usu -dot- edu> writes:
>Interesting that this active/passive controversy should come up
>this week; my tech editing class touched on it Wednesday. So you've
>just made education relevant to real life for 20-some lurking students
>(they'd better be lurking). Thanks.
>Personally, I'd be loathe to lose the passive--or any other linguistic
>nuance--for fear I might need it later, maybe to cover my tracks. Therefore,
>I'm wary of the knee-jerk reaction against it that Shannon Ford mentions.
>I like Bonni Graham's instinct about the relative functions of active and
>passive. If you really want "authoritative" backing, Bonni, you could cite
>Eisenberg. She says essentially the same thing you do: active highlights the
>subject (of the action, that is), and passive highlights the object. So it
>should be a functional choice, not an aesthetic one.
>On another thread (I get the digest, so please forgive all this in one), I have
>to say I am bored to tears with the Conan-the-Grammarian approach to language
>variation and usage. It is simply dumb, I think, to go to the wall "defending"
>the language against variations like "impact" or "interface" used as verbs,
>neologisms like "prioritize," and so forth. This stuff happens because people
>are creative; maybe language itself is creative. Don't fight it. To quote
>Calvin, "verbing weirds language," and it's a helluva a lot of fun.
>Finally, while I'm out on this limb, whoever said that tech writing is the
>primary source of information in this age ought to have the contents of their
>head impounded and examined. For such a thing to be true would require a
>truly impoverished concept of information or a supremely expansive view of tech
>writing. Either of which is plain out-of-touch.
>Interface wit' ya later,
Gee. I wish I'd said that.
This article deserves reposting, in case someone missed it the first time.