Re: Anthropomorphic Phrases

Subject: Re: Anthropomorphic Phrases
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 11:36:14 -0400

That's interesting -- we have the opposite situation. Our engineers
anthropomorphize *everything*. For example, instead of saying "the
client sends an X request to the server," our engineers (native and
non-native English speakers alike) talk like this: "He talks to the
server and asks him to do an X" where "he" is the client application,
"him" is the server application, and "x" is some action. I have to
be very exact when I speak to them because any time I use a pronoun,
they assume I mean the application, not the user. It's pretty comical
at times. These folks definitely have personal relationships, with
varying degrees of intimacy and marital bliss, with their code.

However, back to Matt's original point -- searching is an action that
the application does -- it searches. That's not anthropomorphizing.


Alexia Prendergast
Senior Technical Writer
Seagate Software
mailto:alexiap -at- sems -dot- com

>I think a lot of unclear engineering writing comes from the use of
>passive voice, awkward constructions, etc. to avoid humanizing machines.
>You could call this the "Frankenstein syndrome," whereby the
>creator-engineer avoids personalizing his-her creations as much as
>possible, out of fear that those creations could turn into something
>that can't be controlled. Of course, that happens anyway...

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