Re[10]: Killer Language

Subject: Re[10]: Killer Language
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 11:59:00 -0600

Therein lies the problem: as I mentioned before, one could also look
at, say, a female DB-25 connector as not BEING a "socket" (it
certainly doesn't LOOK like my idea of a "socket", but as HAVING 25
little sockets.

The D-subminiature connectors are an interesting study because in this case
what you're terming the "female" connector fits entirely inside the "male"
connector. They make a good case for the inadequacy of *any* terminology to
identify them except by custom, because there's something wrong with either
description. Pin, socket, male, female; all of them conjure images which are
at odds with some parts of the reality. I would suggest that the issue isn't
how badly we can distort the picture of what the parts are called, to
highlight those differences, but rather what the professionals call them.

I've just performed a simple test. I went back into our engineering lab and
asked for an electronic parts book. I purposely didn't specify the supplier,
so I wouldn't bias the selction. I was handed the Newark Electronics catalog
(not to be construed as an endorsement of the company, but the plain fact is
we *do* buy a substantial amount of parts from them).

To keep the task simple (I don't have a lot of time for this) I looked only
for 25-pin D-subminiature connectors. I looked for what the respective
manufacturers called them. My apologies, but there were too many
manufacturers for me to recall all their names.

The most popular words were variations on plugs/pins and sockets/
receptacles. Among these manufacturers were Cinch, AMP, Amphenol, and WPI.
Only two manufacters used "male" and "female" for the connectors, and one of
them, Thomas&Betts, used "male/plug" and "female/socket." (The other name
was lost by the time I got back to my desk -- yes, I should have written it
all down -- along with at least two of the "plug/receptacle" companies.) One
other manufacturer used "female" in conjunction with the connector, but it
referred to the way the connectors were fastened together (there was a nut
on the connector into which a screw would go to hold the connectors
together, and this was called a "female screw connector" -- what a tedious
way to say it) rather than the connector style itself.

(BTW, in case anyone thinks cable terminology differs from connector
terminology, the cables I ran across during this search shared the same
terminology the manufacturer used for the connectors.)

As always, the choice of words depends upon the audience you're writing for.
But it would seem in this case at least that "pin/socket" or even "plug/
receptacle" would not hinder an engineering target audience's understanding
in the least.

In my earlier unscientific survey of the catalogs and manufacturer's
literature I have, I *did* notice a difference based upon audience. The more
technical the intended audience, the greater the likelihood the connector
was termed "socket." "Female" connectors turned up much more frequently in
the less technical, more end-user oriented material (much more often in
MicroWarehouse, for example, than in Allied Electronics). Interesting, eh?

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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