Posted by: episystechpubs | May 8, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Style Guide Updates

JHA and Symitar folks, there are some updates in the May version of the JHA Style Guide for Technical Communication. I’m only listing two items that come up a lot, so please be sure to check out the What’s New in the Style Guide – May 2017 section in the style guide to see all the updates.

Sunset/End of Life

Guideline
The terms sunset and end of life can be used internally, but should never be used in documents that are external-facing.

In external correspondence, presentations, and conversations, use the terms no longer supported and no longer offered.

Use no longer offered for a product that we no longer sell, but that we will continue to support for the foreseeable future for clients who are using the product.

Use no longer supported for a product that we no longer sell and for which we have established a specific date that JHA will no longer maintain and support the product. Clients may be encouraged to move off the product (and onto an alternative), to cease using it, and to destroy or return any copies.

Unavailable/Dimmed/Grayed Out

Guideline Example
Use unavailable or not available to refer to items on the user interface that are in an unusable state.

Do not use disabled.

Correct:

§ The Cut button is not available if you have not selected text.

§ If you have already saved a document, the Save button is unavailable until you modify it again.

Incorrect:

§ The Cut button is disabled if you have not selected text.

§ If you have already saved a document, the Save button is disabled until you modify it again.

To describe the appearance of an unavailable item, use appears dimmed. Avoid grayed out unless the use of that term is necessary for clarity. Correct:

§ If an option appears dimmed, it is not available for the document type you selected.

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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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 5, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Pend

Looking at my Editor’s Corner to-do list, I found this article from Daily Writing Tips that I thought was interesting and worth sharing. I believe I’ve talked about French and the word pendant meaning “hanging,” but this goes further into words derived from “pend.” I cut the article short by a sentence or two, so if you want the full meal deal, click the link above. Enjoy!

Pend, stemming from the Latin verb pendere, meaning “hang,” is used exclusively in legal terminology, as a verb meaning “be awaiting,” but it appears as the root of many other words referring to hanging or weight, which are listed and defined in this post.

Something that is pending is waiting to be resolved. A pendant is a fixture or ornament that hangs; the word can also refer to a certain type of rope used in sailing, is a British English variant of pennant (a small, tapering flag), and may also refer to something complementary or supplementary, such as a companion volume to a book. A compendium (“weigh together”), meanwhile, is a collection; it is frequently used in a literary sense.

To append (“weigh out”) is to attach something, and something attached to something else, such as a limb, is often referred to as an appendage. Supplemental content attached to the end of a book is called an appendix, and a vestigial organ of the body is so named because it hangs from the large intestine. (Its full name is vermiform appendix; the first word means “wormlike.”)

To depend (“hang from”) on someone or something is to rely on him, her, or it; the adjectival form is dependable, dependent is both an adjective and a noun, and dependence is the noun form. (Antonyms referring to freedom from reliance are independent and independence, while codependent, codependence, and codependency refer to control or manipulation of one person by another.)

To prepend (“weigh before”) is to consider. To expend (“weigh out”) is to pay; the adjectival form is expendable (though it can also be used as noun). Something impending (“hanging over”) is about to occur; the basic verb form is rare. A stipend (“weigh payment”) is money given as pay for short-term work, generally a modest amount not equivalent to a salary.

To suspend (“hang up”) is to hang something or cause someone to wait for something; the feeling that results is suspense, and the act is called suspension.

A pendulum is a weight that swings to and fro to regulate movement; it may also refer figuratively to movement from one position to its opposite. Something that swings heavily can be described as pendulous. Perpendicular (“hanging thoroughly”) means “projecting at right angles”.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 4, 2017

Editor’s Corner: You Have an Appointment

Jackie, my co-editor and friend, and I were talking about the term “doctor’s appointment.” We hear it all the time, but is it correct? Should it be “doctor appointment”? I’m afraid I don’t have an easy answer for you. The experts are all over the place on this one.

My first instinct was that “doctor’s appointment” is incorrect because the apostrophe denotes possession. I assumed it couldn’t be right because the appointment doesn’t belong to the doctor, it belongs to me. And I quickly found a resource that agrees with me: Everything Language and Grammar.

Though I love to be right, I know that one resource is not proof positive; and anyway, we started wondering whether the term might be possessive because the doctor also has an appointment with me, right? So, I kept looking and found an article on dictionarykiwi.com that substantiates the point of view that the appointment also belongs to the doctor. Dictionarykiwi is “created by the community,” so it’s not the most reputable resource, but the article makes a legitimate point.

I kept looking, hoping for something more conclusive, and I found a slightly confused pair of grammarians on A Way with Words,a radio program about language. They hemmed and hawed and finally determined that the term “doctor’s appointment” is used much more often than “doctor appointment.” They said that “doctor’s appointment” is a term that is “lexicalized,” meaning that usage becomes habit, and then we’re stuck with it, whether we like it or not. If you want to listen to their discussion, click here.

I found a few more articles, but they didn’t really offer anything new. Now we’re all confused, right? Well, here’s the upshot. Language evolves depending on common usage. Whether or not it’s correct, most people say and write “doctor’s appointment.” Because there is an ongoing argument about the correctness of the phrase, what you can do is simply avoid using it. You can say (or write) that you have an appointment with the doctor or that you have a medical appointment. That way, the sticklers who think it’s wrong have got nothing on you!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Posted by: episystechpubs | May 3, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Nicknames, Part 2

Yesterday I told you a little about nicknames and shared some Spanish nicknames with you. Today I have part of article from Mental Floss for you. (Click the link to read about all ten names.)

If that isn’t enough, I’ve also included a link to men’s and women’s nicknames so you can find something fitting to call your friends or foes.

Why is Hank from Henry?

The name Henry dates back to medieval England. (Curiously, at that time, Hank was a diminutive for John.) So how do we get Hank from Henry? Well, one theory says that Hendrick is the Dutch form of the English name Henry. Henk is the diminutive form of Hendrick, ergo, Hank from Henk. Hanks were hugely popular here in the States for many decades, though by the early ‘90s it no longer appeared in the top 1,000 names for baby boys. But Hank is making a comeback! In 2010, it cracked the top 1,000, settling at 806. By 2013, it was up to 626.

Why is Chuck from Charles?

"Dear Chuck" was an English term of endearment, and Shakespeare, in Macbeth, used the phrase to refer to Lady Macbeth. What’s this have to do with Charles? Not much, but it’s interesting. However, Charles in Middle English was Chukken and that’s probably where the nickname was born.

Why is Peggy from Margaret?

The name Margaret has a variety of different nicknames. Some are obvious, as in Meg, Mog, and Maggie, while others are downright strange, like Daisy. But it’s the Mog/Meg we want to concentrate on here as those nicknames later morphed into the rhymed forms Pog(gy) and Peg(gy). [KC – Daisy isn’t so strange when you consider that Marguerite is the French term for a daisy (and a girl named Margaret).]

Why is Ted from Edward?

The name Ted is yet another result of the Old English tradition of letter swapping. Since there were a limited number of first names in the Middle Ages, letter swapping allowed people to differentiate between people with the same name. It was common to replace the first letter of a name that began with a vowel, as in Edward, with an easier to pronounce consonant, such as T. Of course, Ted was already a popular nickname for Theodore, which makes it one of the only nicknames derived from two different first names. Can you name the others?

Why is Sally from Sarah?

Sally was primarily used as a nickname for Sarah in England and France. Like some English nicknames, Sally was derived by replacing the R in Sarah with an L. Same is true for Molly, a common nickname for Mary. Though Sally from Peanuts never ages, the name itself does and has declined in popularity in recent years. Today, most girls prefer the original Hebrew name Sarah.

Links to English names and nicknames:

· English names and nicknames for women

· English names and nicknames for men

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 2, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Nicknames, Part 1

I’m not sure how we got started, but the other day my dear amigo Javier and I started discussing nicknames. And not just regular nicknames, but Spanish nicknames. I was really excited, because to me, Spanish nicknames are so much more interesting than calling young Jim “Jimmy,” or referring to Margaret as “Margie” or “Maggie.” This is, however, a blog about English, so I will be certain to connect the dots somehow.

Let’s start with the word nickname. What does it mean? A nickname is a familiar or humorous name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name”. It could be a shorter version of your name (“Rob” instead of “Robert”), a bit of a tease (calling your short friend “Stilts”), or just a pet name (like “Bunny”—don’t ask).

Where did the word nickname come from? Did someone named Nick or Nicholas want to invent something for the dictionary? Not even close! It’s actually from very old words that were misheard or written incorrectly. Here is the etymology from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

nickname (n.)

mid-15c., misdivision of ekename (c. 1300), an eke name, literally "an additional name," from Old English eaca "an increase," related to eacian "to increase" (cognate with Old Norse auknafn, Swedish öknamn, Danish ögenavn.

I still have so much information for you! But let’s move back to the Spanish nicknames, and tomorrow I will share more with you about English. (And to Javier, ¡muchas gracias!)

Alberto, Robertoà Beto

Antonio à Toño

Dolores à Lola

Eduardo à Lalo

Francisco à Pancho

Guadalupe à Lupe

Guillermo à Memo

Isabel à Chabela

Jesús à Chuy

Jose à Pepe

Ignacioà Nacho

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | May 1, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Using Periods in Acronyms and Initialisms

Do you have trouble remembering whether to include periods in abbreviations like ATM, NASA, and TGIF (or A.T.M., N.A.S.A., and T.G.I.F.)?

Good news! Our rule is much easier than you might think: Don’t use periods between each letter.

Acronyms vs. Initialisms

Much of the confusion comes from the fact that some abbreviations are pronounced as words (like NATO and UNICEF) and other abbreviations are pronounced as a series of letters (like FBI and CIA).

Many people use the word acronym to describe both types of abbreviations, but some sticklers distinguish between acronyms and initialisms.

The Oxford English Dictionary is very clear about this distinction:

· acronym: an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word (e.g., ASCII, NASA)

· initialism: an abbreviation consisting of initial letters pronounced separately (e.g., BBC)

Merriam-Webster (our dictionary of choice) is less decisive:

· acronym: a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term

· initialism: an acronym formed from initial letters; especially one that is pronounced as separate letters

Dictionary.com considers the two words to be synonyms, defining acronym as “an initialism” and vice versa.

For our purposes, the distinction doesn’t matter; we treat acronyms and initialisms exactly the same.

Chicago Manual of Style

Some style guides have complicated rules for dealing with abbreviations, taking into account how the word is pronounced, how long it is, and whether any two letters come from the same word (like the T and the V in MTV).

We follow The Chicago Manual of Style, which is clear on this point: “Use no periods with abbreviations that appear in full capitals.”

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 28, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Am I Blue?

Happy Friday!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of articles on shouting bloody murder or blue murder. While some of you suggested I make a trip to the massage therapist, others gave me meditation and relaxation techniques. Still others went the other direction and wanted to delve deeper into these terms. Nathan A. posed a question, wondering if those shouting terms were related to “cursing a blue streak.” I haven’t found anything yet in the book I’m reading (What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves), but I did find this article from The Word Detective.

Enjoy!

Human beings have identified a wide spectrum of colors (and catalog copywriters are constantly inventing new ones), but when it comes to popular figures of speech, “blue” takes the prize for both number and variety of senses. We speak, for example, of sadness or depression as “the blues,” although no one has ever come up with a convincing explanation why. “Blues” music does often center on depressing “blue” subjects (lover left, dog died, etc.), but that “blue” may actually be a reference to the genre’s use of “blue notes,” halfway between proper scale notes. Elsewhere, “blue blood” is said to signify royalty or high social class, but was originally just a reference to very light skin, which made the oxygen-rich blood in one’s veins visible under the skin. The opposite of the blue-blooded idle rich are, of course, “blue-collar” workers, so-called for the denim shirts that once were standard factory wear.

Some towns in the U.S. still enforce “blue laws” forbidding or restricting certain activities on Sundays, but the origin of the term has been lost in the mists of time along with the Puritans who concocted the laws. And, at the other end of the spectrum, we have the slightly antiquated (but equally mysterious) adjective “blue” meaning “obscene,” which dates to the 1820s (and thus predates “blue movies” by a century). It’s possible, however, that “blue” in the “porn” sense arose from the term “blue laws” being generalized to mean any kind of censorious legislation.

Meanwhile, as the stock exchange tumbles and staid “blue chip” stocks take a beating, it’s appropriate to note that “blue chip” meaning “top rank, best” comes from the highest denomination chips in the very un-staid game of poker, which are traditionally blue.

All of which brings us to “blue streak,” which means “with great intensity or speed” and originated in the U.S. in the early 18th century. In all likelihood, the term did arise by analogy to the speed and force of a bolt of lightning, especially in “talk a blue streak,” meaning to speak rapidly and excitedly. The “blue” in “curse a blue streak” probably also invokes “blue” in the sense of “obscene.” A similar phrase, “blue blazes” (“And the two Jacobs swore like blue blazes agin him,”1858), was originally a reference to the fires of Hell, where it is said that brimstone burns with a pale blue flame.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 27, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Six Words That Can Ruin Your Sentence

Good morning!

I viewed an interesting slideshow titled Six Words that Can Ruin Your Sentence. I know that some of the words in the slideshow are on your list of pet peeves, because you’ve told me. And I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but we could all use this reminder: avoid the following six words. They weaken your writing (and speech), and people find them annoying.

The following words and the explanations are taken directly from a Dictionary.com slideshow. Click here to see it.

· Actually
Crutch words are words that we slip into sentences in order to give ourselves more time to think, or to emphasize a statement. Over time, they become unconscious verbal tics. Most often, crutch words do not add meaning to a statement. Actually is the perfect example of a crutch word. It is meant to signify something that exists in reality, but it is more often used as a way to add punch to a statement (as in, "I actually have no idea").

· Literally
This adverb should be used to describe an action that occurs in a strict sense. Often, however, it is used inversely to emphasize a hyperbolic or figurative statement: "I literally ran 300 miles today." Literally is one of the most famously used crutch words in English.

· Basically
This word is used to signal truth, simplicity, and confidence, like in "Basically, he made a bad decision." It should signify something that is fundamental or elementary, but too often this word is used in the context of things that are far from basic in order to create a sense of authority and finality.

· Honestly
This crutch word is used to assert authority or express incredulity, as in, "Honestly, I have no idea why he said that." However, it very rarely adds honesty to a statement.

· Like
The cardinal sinner of lazy words like is interspersed in dialogue to give a speaker more time to think or because the speaker cannot shake the habit of using the word. Like should describe something of the same form, appearance, kind, character, or amount. But, very often, it is used involuntarily in conversation, just like um.

· Obviously
This word should signify an action that is readily observable, recognized, or understood. Speakers tend to use it, however, to emphasize their point with regards to things that aren’t necessarily obvious: "Obviously he should have thrown the ball to first base."

Enjoy your day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 26, 2017

Editor’s Corner: And Bob’s Your Uncle

A few weeks ago, someone mentioned a phrase he heard about somebody’s Uncle Bob, and was wondering if I knew what that was all about. I think what he was getting at was the phrase “and Bob’s your uncle.” One of my coworkers here actually says that on occasion, so he’s explained it to me. Rather than try to remember another past conversation, I have an article from the present to share with you from Wikipedia:

…And Bob’s your uncle is an expression of unknown origin, that means "and there it is" or "and there you have it." It is commonly used in Great Britain and Commonwealth countries. Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions or when a result is reached. The meaning is similar to that of the French expression "et voilà!"

"Bob’s your uncle" is an exclamation that is used when "everything is all right" and the simple means of obtaining the successful result is explained. For example: "left over right; right over left, and Bob’s your uncle – a reef knot." Sometimes the phrase is followed with "and Nellie’s your aunt" or "and Fanny’s your aunt." It is sometimes elaborately phrased Robert is your mother’s brother or similar for comic effect.

This information, along with a lot of speculation, is expanded upon in The Phrase Finder. (I personally like the Australian-Greek version, “And Spiro’s your uncle.”)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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Posted by: episystechpubs | April 25, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Until

Dear Editrix,

Once of my biggest pet peeves is the usage of the word till in place of until. While I know The Grammarist tells us that this is completely acceptable usage, seeing this substitution in writing such as documentation or written correspondence is like nails on a chalkboard to me. While I don’t have an issue with this usage verbally, it feels uneducated and ignorant to me when used in writing. I always thought that till is what you do to the dirt before you plant. Could you please tell us more about this so that I will know if I’m the lone ignorant one?

Best regards,

Banging Head On Wall

Dear Head-Banger,

A few years ago, this topic came up because of my own misunderstanding. I’d grown up thinking that ‘til was a shortened version of until. I looked up these words and I was shocked and appalled to find out that I was sorely mistaken. Here are some tips I learned:

· According to some dictionaries, ‘til is not an acceptable shortened form of till or until.

· If you want to use a shortened version of until, till is acceptable.

· Till has been around longer than until, but both mean “before that time” or “up to that time.”

· Use until if you want to avoid arguments or controversy.

So, till doesn’t just mean moving that soil to prepare for the seeds, but you are completely safe with using until as your go-to word. As far as the sound of the nails on the chalkboard, I recommend earmuffs.

Editrix

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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