Re: Terminology nitpicking (was: Positive feedback...)

Subject: Re: Terminology nitpicking (was: Positive feedback...)
From: Tracy Boyington <tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 14:18:19 -0500

Sandy Harris wrote:

> Anne Nonymous wrote quite a good post, but titled it:
> "Positive feedback from supervisors"
> This triggers a pet peeve of mine. If you mean "encouragement" or
> "praise" from supervisors, say that. Using "positive feedback" in this

> way sounds pretentious, since it is, and makes you look foolish since

> it is immediately clear you don't understand the term. Or at least,
> don't understand its use in cybernetics where it originated.

(Eric, I promise, this *is* related to tech writing).

But is there a single person on this list who didn't understand what the
anonymous poster meant by "positive feedback"? And am I the only one who didn't
know the history of the term and didn't realize Anon was being pretentious and
foolish? When jargon leaves its boundaries, don't we eventually have to accept
it? At what point do we, as professional communicators, stop saying "you can't
use the term that way because that's not what it originally meant," and *start*
saying "since most of the world thinks X means Y, it's time to recognize that X
means Y"? This interests me because I'm in education and have some
responsibility to educate as well as inform. Is anyone else occasionally caught
between the "correct" way and the effective way to communicate?

Tracy Boyington mailto:tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org
Oklahoma Department of Vocational & Technical Education
Stillwater, Oklahoma

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