Correct terms vs. commonly used terms

Subject: Correct terms vs. commonly used terms
From: rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 12:11:33 EST

Eric is facing (among other things) the following problem:

>I argued for 15 minutes this morning
>about the difference between using "correct" terminology,
>using what our users expect, or using what they'll need to learn.

I'm assuming the situation is that you've got a "proper" name for a
part ("double-flanged web span longeron") while the users have their
own term ("batman fitting).

A tough call, but the reality is that you likely can -not- retrain
the users to adapt to your terms, especially if the "proper" terms
are longer and more awkward to say. One solution that I've seen work
with some success is to provide a conversion chart of sorts. At one
company, at the back of each maintenance section was a two column table.
One column contained the common-usage terms, the other contained the
equivalent corporate nomenclature. This was useful when the customers
would call in to our support line, it allowed us to ensure that we
and the customer were speaking about the same systems when referring
to certain parts.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com


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