Re: Functionality (#722234)

Subject: Re: Functionality (#722234)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 16:15:12 -0600

23-MAY-1996 13:43:04.98

Lisa Higgins writes:


A bit reductive. Function is a *thing* (loosely speaking).
Functionality is a quality of the thing *function*. Quite a difference.

>1. Dictionaries do not dictate language.
I believe I wrote something that agrees with this.

>2. Syntactic rules do not dictate how suffices are used. Never have,
>never will.

Hmm. Perhaps syntactic wasn't correct in this case. Morphological rules then?
I could've been wrong about the terminology. (It's been a while since I had
linguistics.) Nonetheless, the words are real and they have distinct meanings.
(MORPHOLOGICAL, morphological, morphological...okay, I'll remember it now).
However, inflections are systems of affixes, and inflections have quite a bit to
do with syntax. Since most European inflectional systems use suffixes, I'd say
your statement is patently false.

>3. A native speaker CANNOT unknowingly violate a grammatical rule.
>(Except in rare cases of head injury, yadda yadda yadda...)

Occasional lapses occur all the time in everyday speech. If you mean that
speakers can tell the difference between a grammatical utterance in their
dialect and one that is not, then I'd agree. If you mean that people don't
violate them unknowingly when they write, I'd say you're dead wrong. I've
taught rooms full of them.

>Yeah. I think that it's unreasonable of us to expect our users to have
>assimilated this new French lexicon a scant 930 years after the Norman

Derivation has quite a bit to do with language register, and language register
can have quite a bit to do with readability. You use your tools; I'll use mine.
Yours are intuitive. No problem. The fact that you labeled *functionality* as
pompous indicates you have an intuitive grasp of language register. It's a
high-register term. I wouldn't use it in my documentation.

In addition, readability and usability are not the same issue. The guidelines
for readability I posted are just that--guidelines. I use different approaches
depending on the audience I address, and I use other factors to determine

If you want to discuss this further, please respond directly to me.

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor

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