Sunday, September 07, 2008

(Potentially relevant link)

I love the Economist, but this article is so...I guess not condescending, but just so...not the way they should be. I guess because it's about tech?
* 'a new web browser to rival that of Microsoft, called Internet Explorer (IE)'
* 'when it crushed Netscape, an early browser.'
* 'a rival web browser to IE, called Firefox.'

This isn't so much that they're telling us these things, but the way they say it. 'Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer' is very different from 'Microsoft's browser, called Internet Explorer'. The former gives information just in case it's needed, whereas the latter makes it sound like readers are assumed to be completely unfamiliar with this entire 'Internet' and 'Computers' thing. I'd rewrite these as:
* 'a new web browser to rival Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE)' (or 'Microsoft's own browser, Internet Explorer (IE)' if necessary.)
* 'when it crushed the previous leading browser, Netscape'
* 'Firefox, IE's chief rival'

I have a friend who does something along these lines all the time in ordinary speech. She'll call the maul, 'that maul thing' or Micah 'That Micah guy'. She's simultaneously demonstrating that she knows the terms, but separates herself from them by mentioning them instead of using them. Well, people familiar with this stuff call that a maul, but not me. Why say things in a roundabout way if the only effect is to make you seem clueless about what you're doing when you're actually not?

Once in Philosophy Club we were doing a 'Worst philosophical argument ever' thing, and one paper put 'reality' and the like in quotes. It's similar to the above, except in this case it was more of a 'people talk about a so-called "reality", but it's all nonsense' thing than a 'Let's treat readers as ignoramuses!' or a 'Let's appear clueless!' thing.

(Yes, Fannie and Freddie are being nationalized and I'm blogging about other stuff. Here's my brief F&F comment: OMFG! It's a bit overwhelming for me to opine right now, and I'll be away for the next ten days.)

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