Re: USAGE: screwdriver

Subject: Re: USAGE: screwdriver
From: Matt Ion <soundy -at- NEXTLEVEL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 20:15:19 -0800

On Tue, 16 Jul 1996 11:57:00 PDT, Simmons, Brian wrote:

>I gather that most of the list is composed of computer/software writers, but
>I'll cast a line anyway. In our semiconductor equipment maintenance manuals
>we have occasionally run into a situation where the term we used for a tool
>was not globally understood. For example, "Allen wrench" confused some
>international users; we changed that to "hex wrench."

>Amazingly enough we are now in a bit of a quandary as to what to call a
>simple screwdriver. Suggestions include
> standard screwdriver
> slotted screwdriver
> straight slot screwdriver

I think "slot" is a fairly well-understood term for this. "Standard"
is far too broad. "Slotted" might imply, especially to ESL readers,
that the screwdriver itself has a slot in it. "Flat" is another common
term I've heard used, although I've always known it as a "slot" (then
again, my dad's a carpenter so I've been exposed to these terms
literally from day one).

>for one type and
> Phillips screwdriver (which is like the Allen wrench scenario)
> crosshead screwdriver
> x-head screwdriver
> cross slot screwdriver

I've also heard it called a "star" screwdriver, although these days
that can be too easily confused with a Torx<tm> end. "Phillips" is
also probably the most common term for these. "Crosshead" and "x-head"
are still pretty ambiguous.

>for the other. I suppose we could solve this most easily by using icons that
>depict the screw head for each occurrence, but I'd really like to know the
>best terms to use. I don't even know of a good source for this terminology,
>except a tool catalog, and that doesn't necessarily reflect "standard"
>terminology, except in the country of origin of the catalog.

It will also vary depending on (here it is again!) the target audience.
Certain fields will be more likely to use certain tools. You'll
probably never run into square-tip (the proper name is "Robertson", but
very few people know that) screwdrivers, as these are used primarily
for wood screws. Likewise for Torx<tm> screwdrivers, which are used
mainly in certain North American cars (GM loves them to death).

We've come across this problem before here in TECHWR-L, with regards to
different terms used in different countries, even though they're in the
same language. The American "elevator" is the British "lift". In
Britain, your auto's engine is under the bonnet and runs on petrol; in
North America, the car's motor is under the hood and runs on gas.

An excellent solution I found to this particular dilemma is in the
Haynes (no relation to the underwear people) shop manuals for vehicles.
Most of the manuals (at least the ones I've got) are published in
England, and as such use the British terms. However, one of the first
sections in the book is a "cross-reference" of sorts, listing the terms
used in the book and their North American counterparts.

Might I suggest a section, either as a preface or a separate index,
describing the specifics of the tools that might cause confusion? You
could have a picture of the tip of the given screwdriver and/or the
head of the screw/bolt, then list the "proper" name as well as "aka's".

For example, you might put in the preface:

You may be unfamiliar with the proper names of some of the tools
referred to in this manual. We've provided a picture and brief
description of the various tools used with this equipment.

<picture of a Phillips screwdriver tip and screw head>
Phillips driver (also known as cross, X or star screwdriver)

<picture of a slot screwdriver tip and screw head>
Slot driver (also known as slotted, flat or standard)

<picture of Allan key tip and screw head>
Allan key (also know as a hex key)

This extends to other tools your audience may use as well. A
multimeter, for example, may also be known as a voltmeter, VOM
(Volt-Ohm Meter, an old term), or DMM (digital multimeter). Unlike
many issues we see documenting software, there are far fewer "standard"
terms in hardware (who remembers the "hard drive vs. CPU vs. computer
vs. system unit debate?) and fewer still when it comes to tools. A
short glossary/cross-reference may not be a bad idea.

Your friend and mine,
Q: Why don't blind people skydive?
A: It scares the heck out of their dogs.

Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Next Level
Productions, or anyone else of sound mind from this planet or dimension!

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