Windows display, take II

Subject: Windows display, take II
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 09:17:47 -0400

Mike Stockman, responding to my original posting on this
topic, observed <<The "grammatically correct" part of "The
ABC window displays" seems to be a matter for discussion,
but I've been tech. writing for over 12 years and have not
encountered that usage.>>

Sorry, I wasn't clear. The original question related to a
transitive use ("the window displays the results of your
action"), not the intransitive. The transitive use is both
grammatically correct and familiar to most users.

<<All usage I've enountered, both from colleagues and the
current editions of the style guides from Apple, Microsoft,
and (I think) Sun support "The ABC window appears." Can
you please provide where "displays" used in this context is
"current usage," for all of our benefit?>>

No, I can't provide a reference, and wouldn't try; I don't like
the intransitive use any more than you do. (At least not in the
context of computer docs; it's perfectly appropriate in other
contexts, such as behavioral science.) "The window displays"
is grammatically correct, but it's bad usage because it doesn't
conform with what readers are familiar with.

Straying from the original topic: I'm not fond of statements
such as "the window appears" by themselves, since they're
basically wasted words. If the window doesn't appear, the
statement is false, and if the window does appear, I already
know that, thank you very much, and I'd rather learn what to
do about it. In any event, to be consistent with the "window"
metaphor in the first place, and the fact that we say "window
closes" or "close the window", I'd prefer "window opens".

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Though the editor is the author's ally, she should never forget that
she is also the reader's first line of defense."--Shoshanna Green

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