TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Challenge to active-verb advocates From:aer -at- PCSI -dot- CIRRUS -dot- COM Date:Thu, 25 Jan 1996 16:20:00 PST
This msg reminds me of another point about
agentless passives and their appropriateness/
appicability: the role of emphasis, focus or topic in writing.
Since writing derives from speech, it is not surprising
that we often mimic spoken constructions, and also
that we may depart from them in search of greater clarity.
Many languages have the equivalent of what is
called topic-comment construction: you say what it is
you're talking about, then you make the comment. Since
it is a frequent and natural sentence form in Yiddish,
it has been called Y-movement as well:
"Bagels, I love 'em. Bigots, I hate 'em."
To give proper emphasis to what your topic [or focus]
is in a sentence you may be better off to use a seemingly
less felicitous phrasing, _if_ it serves to make the emphasis
more clearly than any other form could.
So, passives, you may not like 'em, but hey, emphasis,
you gotta have it sometimes -- and it sure helps your
reader get the point and keep it in mind when tracking
sometimes complex instructions, to lead 'em into the
thicket without losing the way... [love to mix those metaphors]
Al Rubottom /\ tel: 619.535.9505, x1737
aer -at- pcsi -dot- cirrus -dot- com /\ fax: 619.541.2260