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I would rather read "the server searches for the URL" (6 words) than
something more accurate, like "the server runs code that transmorgifies
the key terms entered on line 5 and [blah blah blah]," or whatever is
I think any client of mine would reject my draft if it didn't read the
way the first example does.
>From: Kathy Marshall[SMTP:kmarshall -at- MODACAD -dot- COM]
>Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 1997 2:00 PM
>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>Subject: Re: Anthropomorphic Phrases
>I see your point. I have a great book here called Technical Editing: The
>Practical Guide for Editors and Writers bu Judith Tarutz. ISBN
>She claims that people don't want computers to think, understand, have
>feelings, or be their friends. By attributing human qualities to
>computers, we're somehow taking control away from the user. Also
>anthromorphisms imply that things happen by magic with no logical
>I would be interested to see if most users really feel this way
>though...It probaby varies, depending on the type of user (novice vs.
>expert) and which industry you're writing for.
>> From: Matthew J Long[SMTP:mjl100z -at- MAIL -dot- ODU -dot- EDU]
>> Reply To: Matthew J Long
>> Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 1997 7:47 AM
>> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>> Subject: Anthropomorphic Phrases
>> This one's not in the archives:
>> I learaned and have always heard that using anthropomorphic phrases in
>> technical writing is a taboo and, in general, I avoid it, but I was
>> wondering what it is that makes it so bad? Any books that cover this?
>> Thoughts? Opinions?
>> Recently I was explaining how to use wild card characters when
>> a search in a database when I wrote "When you enter a word or phrase
>> one of the fields, the system will search for exact matches." What is
>> wrong with this phrase. It sort of gives the system a personality
>> but what makes that a bad thing? Maybe the users (who are primarily
>> attorneys and paralegals) would be more productive if they felt that
>> computer was more... well .... human like (anthropomorphic).
>> I am not looking for suggestions as to how to rephrase the statement
>> above--I can do that. I am just curious as to why I should want to.
>> should I avoid anthropomorphic phrases? Is it just for the sake of
>> so, or is there true merit to this practice?
>> TIA for you thoughts?
>> Matthew J. Long
>> Technical Writer
>> mjl100z -at- mail -dot- odu -dot- edu
>> matt -dot- long -at- justice -dot- usdoj -dot- gov
>> -When you can't be eloquent, choose brevity!
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