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Subject:Re: Work around..... From:"Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 22 Dec 1998 11:41:35 -0800
At 08:39 PM 12/20/98 -0800, David John wrote:
>I can't actually bring myself to disagree with anything in your last post
>re: work-around, but curiously, I find it doesn't address any of the points
>I made, and it addresses at least one point I didn't make: I don't remember
>writing that we are entitled to use potentially unfamiliar terms without
>explaining them first. You, on the other hand, wish to persuade me that I
>must use such terms, even if I suspect they are potentially problematical,
>on the grounds that they are widely accepted. I think you will readily
>agree that because an expression is widely accepted, does not mean that we
>have to use it.
Actually, I do not agree with that statement. If an expression is
widely accepted by the audience we write to, we facilitate the
communication process if we use it and we sacrifice clarity if we
do not. In my book, that means we /have/ to use it -- that is, we
have to use it if we want to communicate effectively with our
audience -- and isn't that what the job is all about???
You argue that because the term may not be "standard" that it may be
problematic to the target audience. But I know my audience and the
term is not problematic -- not even to non-English speakers. I have
researched this and am secure in my position.
Then you argue that others besides my target audience should also
be considered; that pointy-haired bosses and receptionists should
also be able to understand the information that I present. Well, I
assure you, my manuals are sufficiently well written that most
intelligent and technologically ept bystanders can understand the
concepts I present. But it matters not one whit to me whether they
can understand the intricacies of distributed object technology.
I do not need for them to understand. I need experienced programmers
to understand what I write and if my books are tightly focused on
my audience, I do not consider that a flaw.
Do I use a style guide? Yes, of course. It's the best way to get
multiple writers to behave consistently and it specifies things
like the acceptable use of words like "workaround". But it's a
living document and it stands up for review at least every six
months. It's a tool and it doesn't serve its purpose if it imposes
artificial constraints on the free flow of information.
And language is also a tool. It's there to serve me. I am not
a slave to language and outmoded conventions and I do not consider
it my job to safeguard "the language" as it stands -- for it doesn't
/stand/; it flows, it lives, it breathes, and it ****changes**** to
meet the demands of its users. It doesn't serve its purpose if it
imposes artificial constraints on the free flow of information.
Yes, I know. In your eyes I blaspheme. Oh, well! <shrug> As a
workaround, perhaps we'd better just agree to disagree. ;-)