FW: The Illuminating Question

Subject: FW: The Illuminating Question
From: Scott McClare <smcclare -at- DY4 -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 11:50:31 -0400

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bernie McCann [SMTP:BernieMc -at- AOL -dot- COM]
> Sent: Saturday, July 11, 1998 12:29 PM
> Subject: The Illuminating Question
>The recent example given in the correct usage of terminology for lamps
>by one or two people, as a waste of time. I'm sure that we all know
>correct terminology must be used at all times, just as the use of
>should be avoided, but I wonder if everyone stops to seriously consider
>reason why.
>Coincidently, I have found an old style guide on my shelf that
addresses the
>subject precisely. I hope that it is of interest.
> The recommended terms for the states of a lamp are "lit" and
>"extinguished". These should always be used in the passive, not the
>form, eg "Lamp ILP1 is lit".

[snip for brevity]

A former boss mandated "to come on" and "to go off" for lights in
technical documentation, for example, "when you press the CAPS LOCK key,
the CAPS LOCK LED comes on," or "Pull the plug. The POWER LED goes off."

He had been hired into the computer hardware industry from the aircraft
maintenance industry, so he retained many of the rules used by the
controlled English in that industry; in this case, not using the same
word as a noun and verb ("the light lit") or a Latinism ("the lamp

Yes, it could be said that a light "going off" could be ambiguous, but
luckily the context is so different that inexperienced users need not
duck under their desks when their POWER LED goes off.


Scott McClare - Technical Writer
DY 4 Systems Inc. (613) 599-9199 x516
smcclare -at- dy4 -dot- com
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." - Polonius

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