"Appears" appears again

Subject: "Appears" appears again
From: mpriestley -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 11:12:27 EDT

Arthur Comings <atc -at- CORTE-MADERA -dot- GEOQUEST -dot- SLB -dot- COM> provides an example
of "appears" having connotations of the magical (or unexpected):

>Ken, if the dictionary doesn't recognize what I'm implying when I say
>"The book appeared on my kitchen table," something's wrong. Now, that's
>a real neutral context I've provided, right? The word "appears" is what
>gives it its magical (perhaps "unexpected" is a more precise word)

Books don't move around much. When they do, we tend to be interested in
how ("now, who took my Encyclopedia Britannica?"). Compare with postcards:
they move around a lot, we know the mailperson delivers them, but we don't
care. The construction "On Tuesday, the long-awaited postcard finally
appeared in my mailbox" does not sound magical or unexpected to me.
Including reference to the means of delivery is unnecessary here, because
obvious, and would be distracting if included, because unnecessary.

This nicely parallels documentation of software window behavior.

>I placed the book on the table.

>The mailman placed the book on the table.

>The bookstore displayed a selection of my books on the table.

>-- yep, a pretty neutral context . . .

Neutral contexts are mythical beasties, like unicorns, but less romantic.

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: my opinions, not my employer's.

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