Killer Terminology

Subject: Killer Terminology
From: Theresa Perkins <tperkins -at- LEXMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 10:11:51 EST

At the risk of stretching this already extensive thread way out of proportion...

Consider that from a sociolinguistic (that's the use of language within a
society) perspective, killer terminology such as "hit", "abort" and "kill" is
effective in the world of computers - if the world of computers includes only
+males. Aggression is an acceptable (and sometimes prescribed) form of
behavior in this sector of society. Years ago, the world of computers was
composed almost exclusively of males. It makes sense then, that the language
used to describe certain functions would reflect and perpetuate a patriarchal
way of thinking. This would explain why we have the absence of such phrases as
"Sit down and have a cup of coffee, dear" instead of the more terse "Busy" or
hourglass icon.

As everyone knows, however, the computer world is not composed entirely of
males, and now includes a more representative number of females, as well as
children. I think it's positive to ask ourselves if the old terminology still
fits the audience. The response from the person who reported the child's fear
of what might come out of the floppy drive should tell us something.

Consider also, that language is dynamic, not static, or we'd still be using
terminology such as "thou", "thy", and "cathode-ray-tube".


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