RE: Are these words being used?

Subject: RE: Are these words being used?
From: "John David Hickey" <dave -at- toonboom -dot- com>
To: "Techwr-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 10:48:15 -0500


>> <<. . . what we're talking about here is not a technical
>> term, which has much more leeway as far as its usage, but a
> If you've got a dictionary that's more than a dozen years
> old, try looking up "e-mail," "online," and "Internet." Does

Wait a sec, George. You're confusing the two points. The three terms you
coined there are terms created to describe new technologies. The SME isn't
using "Shipability" to descibe something new. There are much clearer ways to
descirbe the process than cobbling together some bizarre word.

The problem with doing this is that, since this is a made-up word, there is
no way to look-up this word to confirm it's true meaning. So "shipability"
can mean one thing to one person and something else to another.

> We're technical communicators, not gatekeepers for the
> English language. Our documents should use the terms that
> users use.

Actually, we're both. When we write a manual, we're laying the foundation
for clear communication between people. Therefore, it is our responsibility
to define the language and terms the people use to describe the technology
or process. If they are using vague or inaccurate terms, then it's our job
to teach them what the proper terms are. Keeping a vague or inaccurate term
just because "everyone" (whoever that is!) uses it is not good enough.

If Bob loses to the SMEs argument and is forced to keep "shipability" as a
term, at least it will be defined in one place that people can refer back to
to make sure everyone is talking about the same thing.
Be seeing you,

John David Hickey
Grand Poohbah of Documentation

ToonBoom Technologies
Montreal, Quebec, Canada eh?
Tel: 514-278-TOON (8666)
Fax: 514-278-BOOM (2666)
Pag: 514-205-9209

Their site:
My site:

They say the pen is mightier than the sword.
But if you miss a deadline, you'd better bring the sword.
Don't confuse my opinions with my employer's.
Each exists in blissful ignorance of the other.

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