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: Correct usage of "quadrants" From:Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET> Date:Tue, 17 Oct 1995 21:54:00 EST
> I'm having a terminology dispute with an author about how
> to refer to one of six square regions on a nomogram (a form
> of data graphic, also called an alignment chart. The author
> uses the word "quadrant" to refer to the region, but I've
> pointed out that a quadrant, strictly speaking, refers only
> to one of four regions, not one of six. (That's based on
> mathematics and Webster!) He insists the term is valid for
> referring to any number of regions. Any brave referees out
> there who can comment on this usage?
> Part 2: I'm going to be translating this from the original
> French, and the author insists that "quadrant" is more
> flexible in French than in English (and thus extends to
> situations in which the area isn't divided into four
> parts). I don't buy this, and I'd like to change the French
> too. Can any French techwhirlers rule on this?
You're right. He's wrong. "Quadrant" comes from the Latin _quadrans_,
meaning "a fourth part." If it's more flexible in French (which I doubt)
then the French have indulged in a rare corruption of the language. You can
use lots of other terms for six parts, including "sextant," which means,
predictably, a "sixth part." The author's use of "quadrant" is merely
sloppy. Buy him some books and make him read them. Cover up the pictures so
he can't cheat. Buy him a mail-order English degree. Or, better yet, send
him for a real one.
Simply Written, Inc.
Technical Documentation and Training