Re: E-Primer

Subject: Re: E-Primer
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 13:55:26 -0400

Various people, the last one being Mike Pope, contribute the following

> >> How do you say "The program manager window is now
> >> displayed" without going into gory detail like "Windows
> >> now displays the program manager." This isn't so bad
> >> once, but I'm doing a step-wise manual for a Windows
> >> application, and if every other sentence starts like
> >> this, I think it would get tedious to read. Plus, I think
> >> people just don't care what's causing something to
> >> happen.
> >
> >>
> >
> >The program manager window displays.

> Actually, our style guide frowns on using "displays" as an
> intransitive verb. Anyone else subscribe to that
> prohibition?

I exercise caution when using any word as both a verb and as a noun in
the same document. The word "display" falls into that category. Using a
word as both parts of speech can confuse non-native speakers of English
(or customers who do *not* speak English, but only have access to an
English document), who rely on syntactic clues and context to deciper
the text.

In the case of windows, I say that a process or an actor "opens" a
window. I sometimes use "opens" intransitively with an introductory
clause indicating an action, as in

"After you specify TYPE, the TOOLS window opens."

The corresponding transitive construction here might read

"Specifying TYPE opens the TOOLS window."

We (the editor and I) would pick a style based on the kind of book, and
stick with it throughout the book. Maintaining the parallelism (sp?)
meets the needs of our readers more than whether a construction uses a
transitive verb. Rather than banning "display", we just recommend the
verb "open" when referring to windows appearing.

Finally, given the choice between using a word that can function as
either a verb or a noun, I usually pick the noun form, and try to use
that throughout the book. I can usually find another appropriate verb to
volunteer pretty easily.

And in honor of the continuing "E-primer" thread, I wrote this message
without using that nasty verb "to be". Until now. 8-) Has anyone else
even tried E-prime in any of your writing pursuant to this thread? Just

|Len Olszewski, Project Manager | "Hardcopy is the ultimate backup!" |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| -John Sanders |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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