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Subject:FW: Use of "your" From:Bill Burns <BillDB -at- ILE -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 18 Jul 1997 10:51:48 -0600
Due to yesterday's untimely internet interruption, this message bounced
(at least that's what the router tells me).
If this actually did make the rounds, I apologize for posting it again.
ILE Communications Group
billdb -at- ile -dot- com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Burns
> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 1997 9:25 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: RE: Use of "your"
> Kris wrote:
> >I was taught years ago--too many years, actually--that a writer or
> >interface designer should not refer to items as being possessed, such
> as in
> >"your mail," "your keyboard," "your clients," "your machine," etc.
> >My questions about this are:
> >(1) why did we adopt this convention? (like I said, it's been too
> >years for me)
> >(2) is this convention still widely practiced? was it ever widely
> >(3) why or why not?
> A number of folks have responded, primarily focusing on the use of
> second-person. I think Kris's concern is with the use of
> second-person *possesive* forms in documentation rather than the use
> of second-person.
> From a localization perspective, it's desirable to stick with *the*
> keyboard or *the* desk rather than using the possessive. We speakers
> of American English use possessive forms very loosely. Our conventions
> don't necessarily work in other languages. For example, I'm using a
> keyboard right now, and I refer to it as my keyboard because it's
> attached to the computer I use to work. But I don't own the computer
> that sits on this desktop here. I can overlook the the discrepancy
> because our convention of using possessives includes habitual use of
> items in many cases. Japanese doesn't necessarily have this
> convention. (I'm not even certain if Japanese has articles.) In fact,
> translating the phrase "press F1 on your keyboard" (aside from the
> fact that Japanese keyboards probably don't HAVE an F1 key) might
> require the translated string to be much more literal--say, "press F1
> key on keyboard that you own."
> I have to acknowledge that I don't remember where I picked this up. It
> may have been the piece in InterCom on preparing text for translation,
> but I can say for sure. However, having studied some in linguistics, I
> think the position is valid.
> Bill Burns
> Technical Writer
> ILE Communications Group
> billdb -at- ile -dot- com