Re: Vice Versa (#843142)

Subject: Re: Vice Versa (#843142)
From: Martyn Thirlway <thirlwaym -at- USOFT -dot- NL>
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 09:14:00 PDT

Bill Burns wrote

Using ironclad, black-and-white rules (such as "It's English; use it" or
technical language; don't use it") doesn't take into account many of the
possible factors influencing communication. Needs assessments can be very
helpful when making such choices.

Of course I agree with this - and I only said I was trained that way, not
that I believe in "ironclad" rules. But it still seems to me that the
simpler, the better - or in other words, why use (in this case ) a Latin
(OK, old English) expression, when there is a "normal" English expression as
well? I don't want to knock North America, but one good reason for keeping
to a simple subset of the English language prevents the misunderstandings
caused by the Quayle-isms, and the politicalspeak that is beginning to
pervade our lives. I am not joking when I write that a hospital in LA talks
of "negative patient output" (i.e. dead), and that (from a typically
European viewpoint) it has to be an American that has written the
"politically correct" Bible. I am all for having a language that lives and
changes and progresses, but when it comes to my job, which is to explain
something to a new user, I still go for the easiest way of explaining it.

On a slightly different, but related, note (and I don't want to start a
whole new thread here...), I have also looked at "controlled English",
which, while sometimes frustrating for a writer, is marvellous for the
reader. Any one word can only have one meaning, so instructions being read
by engineers anywhere in the world will always mean exactly the same thing.
Controlled English has been used very successfully in the aircraft and
defence industries for a long time (and you'll never find "vice versa" in
any of the manuals!)

OK, enough of this, at least I have got it off my chest - any more mails
titled Vice Versa will be automatically deleted, unless addressed to me
personally!!!! <grin>

Martyn Thirlway
thirlwaym -at- usoft -dot- nl
["This writing business, pencils and what-not. Overrated if you ask me."

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