Abort (to date)

Subject: Abort (to date)
From: Mark Levinson <mark -at- CRABAPPLE -dot- BITNET>
Date: Sun, 17 Apr 1994 09:38:22 IDT

How did the discussion get started? Read on.
Where will it end? Maybe here.

It was Jon Price who originally asked ...

... would you ask your mother, "Abort, Retry, Fail?"

Sue P. Stewart said she arranges to have the word changed because--
quote-- "in recent months I have had no less than
three users tell me that the word 'Abort' offends them."

(In Yiddish they say, "If one person calls you a donkey, ignore it.
If two people call you a donkey, buy yourself a saddle.")

From my first tech writing job (so long ago that we printed manuals
all-uppercase because it was either that or all-lowercase) I remember that
an abort-- I don't think I've ever heard it called an abortion-- is a form of
cessation that gives promptness priority over orderliness. In software,
for example, it may leave temporary files strewn around. We had a
more orderly form of cessation called an abend, but I haven't run
into that term recently.

I can think of only three things that are commonly aborted: pregnancies,
space missions, and computerized procedures. I think that the association
with pregnancies is pretty strong in the average person's mind, and I
think that the association survives, maybe distressingly, through at
least the first several encounters with the word's computerese meaning.
I quoted the sardonic "coat-hanger" suggestion not light-heartedly but
in order to emphasize the problem.

I know that the word is common, established computerese but I would be
glad to find a synonym that could be used as a workaround and that
might eventually evolve into a widespread substitute.

Upon asking for synonyms, I received Halt and Stop as suggestions;
but it's been implied, wisely, that a lot depends on what, in the
particular context, the action really is and what it needs to be
distinguished from. (As Steve Owens suggests, it could be "give up"
or "stop trying", for example.)

In the application I'm documenting, by the way, all the icons are
pictorial except the one that says, textually, "Abort!"

Mark L. Levinson | E-mail: mark -at- dcl-see -dot- co -dot- il
SEE Technologies Ltd. | Voice: +972-9-584684, ext. 230 (work),
Box 544 | +972-9-552411 (home)
46105 Herzlia, ISRAEL | Fax: +972-9-543917
"This week, as you know, we'll be focusing a large part of the
President's time on crime." -- Dee Dee Myers, 11 Apr 94

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