Re: Correct usage of "quadrants"

Subject: Re: Correct usage of "quadrants"
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 07:45:25 PDT

> 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?

It may be a common piece of jargon in some narrow field, but,
in general, people will laugh at him if he uses the term in
that way. I'd tell him that. "Quadrant" is used in the context
of perfect right angles (Cartesian coordinates, surveying, and even
the gunner's quadrant), so it causes a strong dissonance in any
mathematically literate person to use "quadrant" for anything not
involving precise right angles.

If "region" or "sector" don't pass muster, I'd suggest "sextant."
(I'm amused by the fact that both a quadrant and a sextant refer
to archaic precision instruments.)

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * High-Tech Technical Writing
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (503) 453-5841
"I regret that I have but one * for my country." -- Nathan Hale

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