Re: Writing vs. ??? TECHNICAL writing

Subject: Re: Writing vs. ??? TECHNICAL writing
From: Williams Diane <Williams_Diane -at- DOTE -dot- OSD -dot- MIL>
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 1996 12:09:33 -0400

Joanna:

Are you having a bad day? ;-)

>James J. Kilpatrick insists in both _The Writer's Art_ and _Fine Print_
>that the reader never has to question what "because" means in a
>sentence, whereas the reader does have to think about the meaning of
>"since" when used instead of "because" in reference to an event or
>matter of fact. [Diane said.]

>>Oh does he, now. And since James J. Kilpatrick is an Authority we're
supposed to believe what he says, even if what he says contradicts lived
experience.

Did you stumble when you passed over the "since" in that sentence?<<

No, because it emphasizes the "circumstance or condition" (see below)
that Kilpo is a nationally syndicated columnist and political
commentator who has written and sold several books, which make him, IMO,
an authority! "Because" could have been used, but "since" is perfectly
clear in this sense because (the reason) it connects Kilpo's condition
as a respected writer to his status as a widely accepted authority.

>>Joanna<<

I noticed that you didn't quote me by name in this post to the list and
I wouldn't have minded if you had. I see that you got flamed by name by
Eric and I'm sorry he felt compelled to do that. I enjoy these lively
discussions because (not since) they do help keep one from anal
retentiveness!

I brush up on the usage rules in the texts that I have so I can cite
them back to the folks whose writing I edit when or if they want to know
why I've changed something. I could quote Follet and several others on
the "since"/"because" issue, but I happened to have Kilpo's books handy
and used them.

Here's another resource on my bookshelf: _The Handbook of Technical
Writing_ (4th ed., 1993, St. Martin's Press) by Charles Brusaw, Gerald
Alred, & Walter Oliu, which cites--
"Because--To express cause, 'because' is the strongest and most specific
connective (others are 'for, since, as, inasmuch as, insofar as').
'Because' is unequivocal in stating causal relationship. . . . As a
connective to express cause, 'since' is also a weak substitute for
'because.' . . . However, 'since' is an appropriate connective when the
emphasis is on circumstances, conditions, or time rather than on cause
and effect."

Do you teach at Cornell?

Diane Williams
Technical Editor/Writer
OSD, DOT&E
DWilliams -at- dote -dot- osd -dot- mil


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