Posted by: Jack Henry | September 10, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Violent Words

Hello readers and writers!

Last month, we heard from Donna about the importance of word choice. She covered a couple of the items below, but I’ve been collecting my own list of violent-sounding terms that I see while writing instructions. No, I’m not writing instructions on how to use the rack or an iron maiden—I already know how to use those! I’m talking about everyday instructions for clients using our systems.

I think perhaps the inventors of several programming languages grew up in bad circumstances, or maybe they have some psychological issues because these terms and commands are not subtle. Here’s my list so far and my suggested alternatives. Before you tell me that you can’t change the commands, I get it. I’m not a programmer, I’m a writer and editor of technical material. I’m just asking that when describing things, if you can use a term that is less violent, please do.

Term Possible Alternatives
abort cancel, interrupt
armed with equipped
deploy move, send, use
execute run
fatal (don’t use as a noun) system failure
hit press
kill stop, end
terminate cancel, stop, end

So, perhaps the next time you send in something for editing that sounds like you enjoy dinners listening to machine gun fire and eating your MREs by the light of burning napalm, why don’t you try replacing some of the terms?

Instead of this… Try the fuzzy teddy-bear version…
Kill the job. Stop the job.
Hit Enter. Press Enter.
Execute the command. Run the command.
Terminate the job. End the job.
Our solution will ensure that you are armed with everything you need. Our solution will ensure that you are equipped with everything you need.

If you decide not to, I will surely put something in the comments asking you, “Is this what you mean by execute?”

Choose your words carefully, and go forward peacefully!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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