Re: Correct usage of "quadrants"

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.

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
Technical Documentation and Training
Voice 317.899.5882
Fax 317.899.5987

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