Posted by: episystechpubs | April 23, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Incompatible Jargon

The advantage of jargon is that it simplifies communication between people with a shared body of knowledge. For example, instead of telling another editor to “capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs,” I can say, “Use title case.”

The disadvantage of jargon is that it can be incomprehensible to people outside of your group. In the worst-case scenario, a jargon term means one thing to one group of people and something completely different to another group.

Different Definitions of Combo Box

In my post about combo boxes, I defined combo box as a user interface element that allows users to select a value from a list or enter another value that isn’t listed. My definition was similar to the definition in the Microsoft® Manual of Style: “a box in which the user can select an item from a list or type a value directly in the box.”

The Microsoft Manual of Style describes how to document the Windows® interface for users. But in a different context (documenting the .NET framework for programmers), Microsoft suggests that not all combo boxes allow the user to type a value directly in the box: “The DropDownStyle property specifies whether the text portion can be edited.”

Oracle® similarly refers to “uneditable combo boxes” in their Java™ documentation. I would not be surprised if various other groups of programmers had other definitions of combo box.

Avoid Jargon If You Can; Define It If You Can’t

To different people, knowledgeable in their respective fields, combo box has a different meaning. As I wrote in my original post, it is not worth using a potentially confusing term when it’s not necessary.

If you must use jargon (or any possibly unfamiliar term), define it the first time you mention it. That’s the only way you can be sure you and the reader are speaking the same language.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 | www.Symitar.com

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 20, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Worsted Words and Tulle Terms

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled anywhere (okay, about a month), but I already feel that itch to get back on the road. Since I don’t have any trips planned until later this year, I thought we could go for a voyage through language. The following terms for apparel materials are derived from place names. The list is from Daily Writing Tips.

  1. angora: a type of wool from Angora rabbits, which originated near Ankara (previously Angora), Turkey
  2. Bedford cord: a corduroy-like fabric, named after Bedford, England, or New Bedford, Massachusetts
  3. calico: a type of cloth originally from Calicut, India
  4. cambric: a type of cloth originally from Cambrai, France
  5. cashmere: a type of wool and a woolen fabric from Kashmir goats, which come from the Kashmir region of India
  6. chino cloth: a cloth originating in China (the name is Spanish for “Chinese”)
  7. Cordovan leather: a type of shoe leather first produced in Cordoba, Spain
  8. damask: a type of fabric named after Damascus, Syria
  9. denim: a type of fabric originally called serge de Nîmes, or “serge of Nîmes,” after Nîmes, a town in France
  10. dungaree: a type of denim cloth originating in Dongrī, India; pants or overalls made from this fabric are called dungarees
  11. duffel: a cloth first made in Duffel, Belgium
  12. Harris tweed: a type of handwoven tweed cloth originating on the island of Lewis and Harris and adjacent islands in Scotland (the name of the cloth type tweed is coincidental with the name of the river Tweed)
  13. Holland (or Holland cloth): a type of linen originally made in various parts of Europe, including the province of Holland in the Netherlands
  14. jaconet: a fabric originally from Puri, India (the word is derived from the name of the city’s Jagannath Temple)
  15. jean: a type of fabric originating in Genoa, Italy
  16. jersey: a type of knit fabric originating on the island of Jersey, next to France (but a dependency of the United Kingdom)
  17. Mackinaw cloth: a woolen cloth used for thick, warm jackets (called Mackinaws or Macs) originally favored by lumberjacks and then hunters and fishermen in the Mackinac (or Mackinaw) region of Michigan
  18. madras: a lightweight cloth originally from Madras, India (now called Chennai)
  19. muslin: a lightweight fabric originally from Mosul, Iraq
  20. Morocco leather: a type of leather originally from Moroccan goats
  21. nankeen: a type of fabric originating in Nanjing, China (previously called Nanking or Nankin); also refers to pants made of this material, as well as the pale buff or yellow color of the fabric, a type of porcelain originating in the city, and a type of lace (often called nankins) and part of the name of numerous animals and plants featuring this color
  22. osnaburg: a coarse cloth originally made in Osnabrück, Germany
  23. suede: a type of leather made from the underside of animal skins, originally referenced in the French phrase gants de Suède (“gloves from Sweden”); similar-looking fabrics are referred to as “sueded silk” and so on
  24. tulle: a type of fabric originating in Tulle, France
  25. worsted: a type of wool whose name is derived from that of Worstead, one of the villages from which it originated; also, the name of a type of yarn and a category of yarn weight

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 19, 2018

Editor’s Corner: The Gift of Poison

Last week I wrote about using the word gift as a verb, for example, “Anne was thrilled to be able to gift her daughter with a lovely pair of pearl earrings.”

Robert T. sent me some fascinating information about the word gift. He told me that the German translation for the English word poison is gift. That just doesn’t seem like it could be a coincidence, so I looked up the etymology of poison to find out how these words are related, and I found this:

In many Germanic languages “poison” is named by a word equivalent to English gift (such as Old High German gift, German Gift, Danish and Swedish gift; Dutch gift, vergift). This shift might have been partly euphemistic, partly by influence of Greek dosis “a portion prescribed,” literally “a giving,” used by Galen and other Greek physicians to mean an amount of medicine.

That’s fascinating, right? We say poison; they say gift. I love how languages intermingle.

Oh! Now I know what I’m getting for my husband for our anniversary this year. 😊

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 18, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Disposal

Dear Editrix,

“I’m at your disposal.” What are you possibly gonna do to me? What the heck does that mean?

Marty in Monett

Dear Marty,

Thank you for making me laugh. What am I gonna do to you? “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” (Okay, no more Taxi Driver, it gets heavily censored from here.)

What a good question about this odd phrase. I found a little something on Daily Writing Tips about it. I personally don’t think “I am at your disposal” sounds very nice, even when is intended to be a polite thing to say. Here’s what Maeve Maddox has to say about it (click the link for the full article):

Some speakers, perhaps because of their familiarity with the word disposal in connection with trash, seem to have trouble with the polite idiom “at your disposal.”

For example, I saw this comment on a Yahoo forum: “If you are at their disposal, it is derogatory and demeaning.”

Disposal and its different forms descend from Latin disponere, “to set in different places, to arrange.” The verb has more than one meaning, including the following:

· to place or arrange things in a particular order

· to make fit or ready

· to make arrangements

· to get rid of

The noun disposal can mean the action of disposing of something. In the expression “at one’s disposal,” it means “the power or right to dispose of, make use of, or deal with as one pleases.” The notion that the person “at one’s disposal” is “under the command of another” is doubtless the reason for objections to the expression by literalists.

Language has its polite conventions, and most people can tell the difference between convention and sincerity.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 17, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Home in, hone in, phone home

Dear Editrix,

I read an article where they mentioned homing in on something. Isn’t the verb to hone in on something? I think it’s homing pigeons, not honing pigeons. Now I’m confused!

Sincerely,

Where should I send my pigeons to roost?

*******************************************************

Dear friend of pigeons,

Let’s have a look at these frequently confused words and phrases. Here is some information from The Grammarist:

Home in means to direct on a target. The phrasal verb derives from the 19th-century use of homing pigeons, but it resurged in the 20th century to refer to missiles that home in on their targets. It’s also commonly used metaphorically, where to home in on something is to focus on and make progress toward it.

Hone inbegan as an alteration of home in, and many people regard it as an error. It is a very common, though, especially in the U.S. and Canada—so common that many dictionaries now list it—and there are arguments in its favor. Hone means to sharpen or to perfect, and we can think of homing in as a sharpening of focus or a perfecting of one’s trajectory toward a target. So while it might not make strict logical sense, extending hone this way is not a huge leap.

Outside North America, home in prevails by a huge margin. It also prevails in North America, but only by a ratio of about two to one. Hone in is common even in technical, scientific, and military contexts, where one might expect home in to prevail. A few American and Canadian publishers clearly favor home in as a matter of policy, but most apparently have no strictly enforced policy one way or the other.

Phone home:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 16, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Five Words in English and in Corporate-Speak

I read an interesting article from Daily Writing Tips and I want to share it with you. It is about using familiar words in an unfamiliar way in the workplace. We want to make sure that we use words as they’re defined in the dictionary so that the everyone in our audience will understand what we’re saying. Here’s the article for you to read:

Corporate-speak takes many forms, but especially mysterious is the practice of taking a familiar English word commonly understood to have one meaning and using it with a less familiar meaning. Here are five examples.

1. actionable
common meaning: “giving cause for legal action.”
Example: Disrespect in the workplace may constitute actionable behavior.

corporate usage: able to be acted upon or put into practice.
Example: From Apple to the Toastmasters, the world’s most successful organizations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks.

2. ecosystem
common meaning: A biological system composed of all the organisms found in a particular physical environment, interacting with it and with each other.
Example: Sockeye salmon vs. Pebble Mine: Protecting a fragile ecosystem in Alaska from destruction.

corporate usage: a complex system resembling a biological ecosystem.
Example: For me, a successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is a space run by people with very entrepreneurial minds. Ecosystems are self-supporting, energetic environments that attract, nurture, move on and reward different stakeholders.

3. granular
common meaning: Consisting of grains or granules; existing in the condition of grains or granules. (granule: A small grain; a small compact particle; a pellet.)
Example: “Sandpaper” is material upon which a granular layer of some abrasive has been fixed by means of an adhesive.

corporate usage: attending to or explaining the fine details of a topic.
Example: The CEO and CFO see the bottom line of the cost of your department more clearly than they see the success of individual projects. They’re not idiots. They can get granular if they have to, but what they really want to know is if the total cost of IT is worth the output.

4. socialize
common meaning: to civilize, to make suitable for society.
Example: Pet owners socialize their puppies by taking them into different situations.

corporate usage: to let people know about something.
Examples:
1. Employees will form beliefs based on what they experience before and after you widely socialize the new purpose and those beliefs will drive their actions.
2. When a good idea hits, find the fastest, cheapest way to get something that will demonstrate and socialize the idea to at least some segment of the target marked.

5. surface
common meaning: intransitive verb meaning to come to the surface, especially, to rise to the surface of water. Figuratively, “to surface” means to come to public attention after a period of obscurity or concealment.
Examples:
1. Sometimes we saw the whale and the dolphins surface at the same time.
2. Fear of the truths that might surface about ourselves…

corporate usage: transitive verb meaning “to raise.”
Example: Plan on meeting regularly so that team members stay informed and any issues you surface are resolved in a timely manner.

All occupations develop specialized terminology that serves a practical purpose. For example, terms like banner, head, and gutter provide useful shorthand in the context of running a newspaper. Used in an occupational context, the words’ other meanings do not impede communication.

Wrenching the meanings of words like socialize and surface however, has the effect of muddying communication. Speakers who wish to be understood by the largest number of listeners will do well to avoid such meaningless cant in their business meetings and correspondence.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

Symitar Documentation Services

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is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 13, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Illeism

Good day, folks! This is on the long side, but I didnt want to edit the article. The article was written by Samantha Enslen, from Dragonfly Editorial. It was read on a podcast by Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty).

Recently, Grammar Girl listener Mark J. Yevchak wrote in with an interesting question. Hed been watching the HBO miniseries Generation Kill, about the first days of the war in Iraq, and he noticed that one of the characters, Lt. Col. Stephen Godfather Ferrando, often uses his own name when speaking.

Here are a few examples:

The general has asked this battalion to be America’s shock troops, and Godfather can’t tell the general we don’t do windows."

Godfather doesn’t like being told what to do by the enemy.

Godfather needs an airfield.

Mark wanted to know what its called when someone talks like this. And he wondered if he was alone in thinking it made the speaker sound self-righteous.

Mark, here are your answers.

Illeism Is the Habit of Referring to Yourself in the Third Person

This verbal tic is known as "illeism." That’s the habit of referring to yourself in the third person.

It can make the speaker sound egotistical. Think of Dwayne Johnson as "The Rock" asking, "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?"

He used illeism deliberately to exaggerate his self-importance.

Think also of the character Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christies mysteries. Christie often portrayed the detective as referring to himself in the third person, as a way of depicting his self-grandeur. In one of her books, another character asks him about it:

Dr. Lutz: Tell me, why do you insist on referring to yourself in the third person? It’s intensely irritating!

Hercule Poirot: It helps Poirot to keep a distance from his genius.

In the real world, speakers sometimes also revert to illeism when they want to create some distance between themselves and their actions. For example, when basketball player LeBron James was criticized for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat, he responded using illeism: One thing I didnt want to do was make an emotional decision I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James what would make him happy.

James was lampooned for speaking this way and accused of being narcissistic. He might have been, or he might have been trying to control his emotions in a positive way.

Illeism Can Be a Positive Form of Self-Talk

You see, a 2017 study in the journal Nature showed that using illeism can actually be helpful. The study found that using your own name when youre speaking to yourself, rather than the pronoun I, can help you better control your feelings and behavior when youre under stress.

The scientists theorized that third-person self-talk leads people to think about the self similar to how they think about others. This provides them with the psychological distance needed to facilitate self-control.

In other words, if you give yourself a command using the word you or your own name, youre more likely to do it than if you use the word I.

Weird, huh?

Heres an example. If youve ever watched Serena Williams play tennis, youve probably heard her shout come on! Shes talking to herself, but she uses a second-person imperative command, with an implied subject: (You) come on! Williams tends to do this after difficult points or at critical moments in the match. Shes talking to herselfbut at a slight distance, as if she were her own coach or cheerleader.

The scientists in the Nature study call this type of self-talk a relatively effortless form of self-control.

Id suggest nearly all of us could try this, bringing illeism to bear in our day-to-day lives. For example:

  • Instead of saying Im totally going to fail this math test, say Youre going to study like a champ, and youre going to ace this math test.
  • Instead of saying Theres no way I can run a mile, say Youre tough. You can make it. Keep going.
  • Instead of saying It will take me forever to wash these dishes, say Nate, just wash one dish at a time. Get started and youll get it done.

Dont Let Illeism Become Hulk Speak

One cautionyou may want to say these encouragements in your head or whisper them quietly to yourself.

Otherwise, you could be accused of another variation of illeism"Hulk Speak. Thats when a speaker refers to him- or herself in the third person and strips out most of the prepositions and articles.

Heres an example from the movie Thor: Ragnarok.

Hulk: Hulk always angry.

Thor: I know. We’re the same, you and I. Just a couple of hot-headed fools.

Hulk: Yeah, same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water.

Thor: Well, we’re kind of both like fire.

Hulk: But Hulk like real fire. Like … raging fire. Thor like smoldering fire.

So when youre trying to finish that 5K, rather than shouting You got this, Monica, you might want to whisper. If people still look at you funny, just explain youre using a literary device known as illeism, and that its derived from the Latin word ille, meaning "he or that man. That should keep them quiet.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | April 12, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Gift as a Verb

Good morning to you. I recently read an interesting article on the Grammar Girl website that discussed whether it’s acceptable to use the word “gift” as a verb (for example, “Anne was thrilled to be able to gift her daughter with a lovely pair of pearl earrings”).

I know many of you are internally yelling “No!” However, the article points to a long history (nearly 400 years) of using gift as a verb. In the beginning, it was most often used to mean endow, which is a more formal type of giving (think dowry).

Apparently, it was common in the 1800s to use the words gift and gifting “for formal giving that cements reciprocal or patronage relationships.” Grammar Girl cites an example in which Europeans and indigenous people used the practice of gifting to establish relationships.

Using gift and gifting as verbs fell out of favor until the 1930s, when people started talking about the gift tax. Because of the term gift tax, people started using the term gifting money rather than giving money.

And more recently, in 1995, an episode of Seinfeld airedthatmay be responsible for repopularizing the use of gift as a verb. In the episode, a character was accused of regifting, and after the episode aired, there seems to have been an increase in the use of gift as a verb, likely as a back formation of regifting.

Before you send me an angry email, please know that I am not condoning the use of gift and gifting instead of the more commonly accepted verbs give and giving (which I wholeheartedly prefer). I am just pointing out that you might not want to judge people too harshly who do use gift as a verb. This is not new-fangled terminology. (But you do have my support if you choose to silently correct them in your head.)

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Posted by: episystechpubs | April 11, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Invite vs. Invitation

Dear Editrix,

When did the word “invite” become a noun? More and more, I hear people using it this way. It’s a verb in my book. Please advise.

Tense in Tennessee

Dear Tense,

I’m with you. The verb is “invite,” and the noun is “invitation.” The same goes with the couple “install” (the verb) and “installation” (the noun). I often hear people saying that they will send an “invite” instead of an invitation. Or perhaps you’ll hear someone asking for an update on the “install” instead of the installation.

Most resources still agree that when you are writing or talking to people in a serious or formal setting, you should use these words as they were intended and skip using “installs” and “invites” as nouns.

But, language changes, and we may be witnesses as these words become more acceptable as different parts of speech. (One of the references I found online said that the shortcut, “invite” as a noun, has been around since the mid-seventeenth century, and he provided two examples from the OED.)

When you hear “invite” used as a noun, you can still disagree. I’ll support you. We’re at work, and that is “formal” enough. Keep fighting the good fight!

Editrix

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | April 10, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Comma Splices

Way back in February, we talked a little bit about run-on sentences and how to fix them (Editor’s Corner 02/20/2018). Today’s topic of discussion is the comma splice, the run-on sentence’s crazy cousin.

Comma splices are related to run-ons in that they both connect independent clauses incorrectly. With a comma splice, a comma connects the two independent clauses.

For example: We make popcorn after dinner every night, we then watch a movie and eat snacks together. (Incorrect)

Let’s have a look at some different ways to fix the problem.

  1. Break the two clauses into separate sentences.

Correct: We make popcorn after dinner every night. We then watch a movie and eat snacks together.

  1. Add a coordinating conjunction and a comma.

Correct: We make popcorn after dinner every night, and we then watch a movie and eat snacks together.

  1. Change the comma to a semicolon.

Correct: We make popcorn after dinner every night; we then watch a movie and eat snacks together.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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