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Re: [PATCH] Operating system independence; Hurd Port.

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: [PATCH] Operating system independence; Hurd Port.
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 09:58:40 -0500

    > * doc/USER: Improve language.  Remove contractions.

    Why is removing contractions a good thing?  I prefer to be
    fairly informal, because it is easier to read (for native
    English speakers).  It's hard to know for non-native speakers...
    I have learned a bit of Portuguese, and I would certainly
    find informal PT easier to understand, because it's what I
    use when talking to friends.  But, this might be unusual.
    Difficult issue.  What's your motivation?

In my experience, contractions are hard for a many people for whom
English is a second or third language.  They learn to read English in
school and are best with what might be called `schoolmarm' English --
language that is somewhat stuffy and formal.

A second reason to remove contractions has to do with what the
security people call `social engineering', which is how you present
yourself or your work.  A lawyer friend of mine pointed this out:
many people who are not nerds and not technical judge the quality of
work by how it `sounds' to them.  In many companies, people's bosses
fit into this category.  An informal document suggests to these people
that you should be forbidden to use the program in anything that
involves paid employment.  The informal tone of the documentation
suggests to them that the software itself is unstable and they would
prefer you to crash your home system, not the company's.  This is the
wrong way to judge the quality of a work, but some people make
decisions this way.

    Robert J. Chassell                  address@hidden
    Rattlesnake Enterprises             http://www.rattlesnake.com

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