Re: Killer -Reply (#627333)

Subject: Re: Killer -Reply (#627333)
From: wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 14:47:02 MST

I didn't want to contribute to this thread unless I had something
completely frivolous to add. :-)

If you're fond of literary parody, take a look at the page at this URL:

http://www.misty.com/laughweb/computer/abort.retry.ignore.html

I read this parody to the students in my Survey of American Literature
class on Halloween day. We haven't covered Poe yet, but they loved it
nonetheless.

>>I think the use of the word "abort" is acceptable because it's
>>what the user expects. "Abort" was a word long before we came up with
>>the term "abortion." If your user expects some other term, or
>>doesn't know to expect anything yet, then I'd pick something else if
>>"abort" really bothers you.

Experienced users and technical folks might expect "abort" because it has
a conventional meaning in computing and other technical environments.
However, the term has meant "to miscarry" or "to cause a miscarriage" for
well over four hundred years (according to this big chunk of paper product
that has OED stamped on its binding). It has also meant "to stop a process
before it has been completed," but this usage is clearly figurative and
likely to evoke the more common medical meaning for users who are only
familiar with the more literal meaning (and, yes, list linguists, I'm aware
of Lakoff et al's work on metaphors, so I know the problems inherent in
that last statement). These folks might find the metaphor inappropriate.
Preferences being as whimsical as they are, some of these people might
develop the impression that the interface isn't as "friendly" because
of such usage.

However, we can easily let such considerations detract from more important
issues. Some of the other examples seem a bit overly cautious to me, and if
such precautions get in the way of meaning, then they're not useful.

Bill Burns
Assembly Documentation Supervisor
wburns -at- micron -dot- com
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