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:"One" is the loneliest pronoun From:SANDRA CHARKER <scharker -at- OZEMAIL -dot- COM -dot- AU> Date:Mon, 13 Feb 1995 23:20:24 +1100
Diana Patterson wrote:
> "One" has been used for time out of mind by the English to mean
> "me". And there is often a suggestion of personal revelation
> in the use of "one". That personal is what keeps people from
> feeling comfortable with it.
I don't think that's why Oztralians aren't comfortable with One. I think it
sounds to us like what Mark Levinson called "foptalk" (love it!!), and it
offends our egalitarian national self-image. Which suggests there might be
national differences in reasons for avoiding what ought to be a useful pronoun
-- curiouser and curiouser.
Still, the sentence:
"One's writing improves with time..."
doesn't sound to me like a personal revelation; it sounds like a neutral
generalisation, particularly considering that it was said by a teacher of
writing talking about course content. So, how does it sound to other people?
And would a sentence like this sound ok in a software manual:
"One uses online Help less with experience.."
It wouldn't here -- one's audience would collapse in helpless mockery. I can't
seriously imagine it appearing in any manual from the US, Canada, the UK*, or
New Zealand that I've ever encountered? But why not?
Sandra Charker (too hot to sleep in summertime Australia)
* Incidentally, is it true that "the English" have used "one" time out of mind?
Surely it's a class marker, used naturally by some of "the English" and in jest