Please stop vague language discussions

Subject: Please stop vague language discussions
From: Andrew Woodhouse <awoodhou -at- MPC-UK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 09:58:18 GMT

"Anita Z. Fite" <AJFite -at- aol -dot- com> wrote:

> Hi, all.

> Responding to Matt Hicks, Sue Gallagher suggested a programmer would write:

> "The setting of the sun has been ridden off into by the hero."

> Perhaps. But the engineer would write:

> "The hero traversed in a westerly direction, at a constant velocity,
> utilizing a source of equine locomotion, moving towards the point at which
> the solar body appeared to be making contact with the sky-ground interface."

> Although, I have to admit I'm not sure the engineer would use the word
> "hero." Surely, there's a handy acronym around somewhere!

> Sincerely,
> Anita Z. Fite

And from all the discussions on this list, the Technical Writer would put it:

"the hero rode into the sunset.

NOTE: The use of 'hero' is intended neither to signify the masculine or exclude
the feminine although masculinity and femininity, of course, are merely
constructs of a misogynistic, patriachal society and are thus meaningless.
However, this term is used since the gender - although merely a construct of a
misogynistic, patriachal society - is insignificant to this tale."

Remember, everyone, that excessive Political Correctness can be looked upon as a
conspiracy of the right-wing to undermine the liberal/left wing viewpoint - in
countries where there is a left, of course, unlike the US :-)


This next bit is similar to my last post to this list, and I'm not ashamed of
expressing myself so aggressively.

Some on this list seem to think of themselves as the guardians of language.
PLEASE, PLEASE get tech. writing in context, and stop arguing about

As Tech Writers, we are *users* of language. If we try to change language,
people won't understand what we're talking about. Got it?

Joyce, etc. were *not* tech. writers. Their texts didn't have to be "used", but
were written to be difficult and necessitate some form of interpretation.
Barthes made the distinction between "works" and "texts", or "readerly" and
"writerly" texts. It's in the nature of TW that we produce readerly texts. That
is, have a fixed clear meaning. In doing so, we must write in language the
target audience understands. If they understand "you must do this" fair enough,
write that. If they understand, "If the user does this, he must..." then use

Whether we think this is poor or not is the fault of the education system, poor
parenting, etc. etc., and it's not our remit to try and rectify the situation
(which, of course, wouldn't work!)

This list is degenerating into something like a pub/bar(?) discussion of
language, as I've seen very few arguments on that subject worthy of reading.

Can we *PLEASE* kill off these language threads! Discuss them elsewhere!
(Actually, I wouldn't mind joining a language discussion list, as long as it was
a bit more intelligent and scholarly than I've seen here).

I just wonder what the listowner, Eric Ray, makes of all this nonsense? Eric?


------------ Technical Writer ------------
email (work) : andrew -dot- woodhouse -at- isysg -dot- com
email (home) : awoodho -at- ibm -dot- net
Nothing in this message represents the
views or opinions of U S WEST ISG.

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