Use of Second Person

Subject: Use of Second Person
From: George Allaman <gallama -at- LOOKOUT -dot- ECTE -dot- USWC -dot- USWEST -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 17:09:31 -0700

On Mon, 11 Dec 1995, Greg Cento wrote:

> Basically, I do as much writing as I possibly can using the second person
> singular pronoun (actual or implied): "First you do this=8Athen you do
> that=8Atweak here=8Atwist there=8A" I find that this way I am able to avoid =
> those
> he/she/they constructions that some find awkward and others find insulting
> (you know, that reverse discrimination/sexism song (grin)).

Thank you for bringing this up. I've wondered about this for some time
and will be very interested to see what the consensus is.

Personally I find the use of "you" - in user guides in particular -
repulsive, although I can't make a convincing argument as to why. It seems
overly familiar, as if treating the reader like a child, as if I were
writing a personal letter rather than a procedure. I avoid it where I can,
but sometimes it is simply the only way out. I find the implied second
person of the imperative mood a little less offensive, since it doesn't
seem to be trying to anthropomorphize the document.

Let the opinions fly.

|George Allaman | |
|Tech Writer | <clever, meaningful |
|Denver, Colorado | quip which somehow |
|Office (303) 624-1619 | summarizes my life |
|Home (303) 771-8060 | philosophy> |
|Alternate: georgea -at- csn -dot- net | |
|---> New address as of 1/2/96: gallama -at- uswest -dot- com <---|

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