TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Correct Wording for Examples From:Alisa Dean <Alisa -dot- Dean -at- MCI -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 26 Nov 1996 10:12:00 -0700
Sella Rush writes:
> [snip] and found that *most* people either don't know the
> distinction or have it wrong. So why use it--just because it lends a
> highbrow air and let's us talk condescendingly about "weak" readers and
> poorly educated? Everyone understands the english alternatives. Let's
> let i.e., and e.g., fall by the wayside as archaic language should.
Here, here! I believe this is true for all the terminology currently
under discussion (see Killer Revisited thread). Our job is (try to) to
eliminate any chance that the audience may misunderstand any phrase,
usage, terminology, whatever, and remove any obstacles, such as
politically or emotionally charged words.
I'm not advocating being so "PC" that that, in itself, becomes the
obstacle to understanding. However, if there are suitable words of
equivalent meaning that solves the issues, why insist on using the
other words? That is the criteria that I use, without digging into
the "male chauvinism" (sp?) of engineering, or the gender-specific and
biological-function-specific significance (pardon the excessive use
of built adjectives). If there is a chance for misunderstanding, or
an obstacle that the reader must overcome, such as an emotional response
to terminology, then I rewrite for clarity.
The other side of this coin is that I use the terminology that the
audience expects and understands, and if the audience expects the terms
that have been discussed in the Killer thread, then I use them. I
just am aware that some of the audience may still react negatively to them.
Insisting on using terminology because *we* know how to use it correctly,
even if the reader does not, is snobbish, and creates an unnecessary barrier
between the writer and the reader.
Sr. Technical Writer
alisa -dot- dean -at- mci -dot- com