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Subject:Active, Passive, and more From:JohnFGlenn -at- AOL -dot- COM Date:Tue, 23 Jan 1996 05:42:00 -0500
%=new para indicator
** re activate vs. passive ... and being negative **
CLARITY SHALL PREVAIL.
I am pro /active/; I feel it is clearer (also less apt to be ambiguous).
Unless prohibited by contract, I encourage all writers to use the active
realizing there are times when only passive is possible.
I am strongly against /no/ and /not/, and I am pro-Harvard regarding
/commas_before_and/ in a list of distinct items.
The problems with /no/ and /not/ ... as I learned in PTW* journalism days ..
are that the words can be dropped (when text was re-keyed by keyboarders
or typesetters), overlooked by the reader, or changed during keying (by
anyone) from, for example, /noT/ to /noW/.
Likewise, it is easy to drop or overlook prefixes de-, dis, and un-,
particularly when the word is out of context.
There are alternative words, although a sentence rewrite may be necessary.
I consider such a rewrite worthwhile.
Professional engineers put their licenses on the line (at least in Florida)
negatives are dropped or overlooked.
As with all things, some negatives may be retained; as Shamai's opposite
noted, it is easier NOT to do something than to do something.
Re /commas_before_and/, I write manuals for the international market where
English (British or American) is a second language (note negative avoidance).
Anything to eliminate confusion is beneficial to the reader and to the
making/marketing the product ... a frustrated reader typically will speak ill
product -- "it is too hard to use," so a hearer will look elsewhere for a
PARTING SHOT: Documentation is as much a part of the product as the
advertised product (hardware, software). Without documentation, the product
is incomplete. (Sorry 'both that nasty negative.)
* pre-tech writer
** Hillel: do not do unto others what is hateful to you. Hillel, who may
have been a tech writer, also said //do not make a statement that cannot
easily be understood on the ground it will be understood eventually.//
Seems appropriate for this discussion.