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Department of Redundancy Department

And can anyone tell me what "RSVP" stands for? And why I am removing the "please" that everyone keeps inserting before it on the official invitations to events like retirement celebrations?

I am sure that someone is going to call me sometime and ask why I am making the online versions of the invitations less polite. But people, c'mon! It means

Répondez s'il-vous-plaît   (= "Please respond" in French)

And I don't want "Please respond if you please" on my (OK, our) intranet site, thankyouverymuch.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-nitpicky life.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
"ATM machine", which I catch myself saying periodically. And luckily I *don't* say "Rio Grande River".

It's the same linguisitc thing that creates stuff like "Torpenhowe Hill", I expect ("Hill hill hill Hill" - I forgot what language 'howe' is, but each successive wave of linguistic invaders took the local word for 'hill' and added their own to it).
May. 8th, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC)
* Oops, sorry, "Torpenhow Hill". I think that tor is Norman, although I could be misremembering. And apparently there's some argument in linguistic circles and one of the elements may mean something different, but there's at least two 'hills' in there.
May. 8th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)

Oh, point very much taken. There's a linguist me, who took grad level linguistics classes for kicks as an undergrad and understands that languages evolve, and an editor me, who's a nitpicking wacko .... > a moment's pause whilst I look askance at the guys noisily cleaning the outside of my office window ... <

Certainly language is going to change. But we're a Federal enforcement agency populated mainly by lawyers ... if I know what that means (and I never took any French, not one bit of it), they should too ... shouldn't they?

May. 8th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Hahahahahaha ... lawyers and language! *twitch* Yes, I know a technical writer who works for a law firm, and have been the recipient of many of his rants.

I don't have to deal with that, instead I have to deal with people who put scare quotes around any "jargon" that seems "new" and "technical" to them. Like the sentence: The survey will "go live" on Monday. Thank Providence that the cataloger drafted that for *me* to send, and I was able to edit it before the email went out. (And I had a ref librarian scare-quote "jargon" to me when she was explaining that she didn't know technical jargon likt the word "directory" in my explanation to her. I keep forgetting to use "folder" instead of "directory".)

The aforementioned cataloger wanted me to include my email address and phone number in the email so that anyone in the library who had questions or concerns about the survey could contact me. Bzuh? If they can't hit "reply" and get my email address that way, they're too stupid to talk to me, and anyway: when was the last time you had an emergency question about an already-approved survey that had to be answered RIGHT THEN? I removed my phone number from the email and surprisingly received exactly zero email queries about the survey.

Sorry for the rant. :P
May. 8th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)

Re ranting: no worries! :-D

Yeah, I keep running into the folder/directory gap myself, along with similar problems. It gets icky sometimes because my supervisor wonders why I'd rather talk with the technical hired help than with her ... .

The level of helplessness among people who supposedly use their office computers all day, every day is a constant source of pain. When we announce internal events, it's very easy to insert links to the homepages of the sponsoring offices, and I do so.

But then I get people wanting me to somehow put a link on the already-crowded agency homepage to their little sub-sub-offices, "Because people read the announcement and want to know more and then they can't find our homepage on the site."

"Um," sez I. "Isn't that what the link on your office name in the announcement is for?"

"Oh! Is that a link?"

>bam bam bam< of Cho's head on the desk ...

May. 8th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine people not wanting to know more about the tools they use every day that are indispensable to their jobs. And don't even get me started on the ones who get error messages and click through them without reading them. At my former job, I had a coworker who - deliberately I think because she as (a) crazy and (b) hated me and (c) CRAZY - refused to leave error messages up on the screen for me, no matter how many times I asked her to. Even when I was reading over her shoulder, trying to replicate the problem (and she would accuse me of trying to make her feel stupid when I asked for the steps she did as I was trying to replicate the problem. Did I mention the crazy?), she'd click the OK as fast as humanly possible on the error message.

She never grasped that I couldn't diagnose and fix a problem from "It's broken!"

And this is from my current job; I posted it back in November:
You phone to ask for help on an email you're composing to send to the faculty and staff email list across campus, fair enough. The reason the URL that you're telling them to go to doesn't work is that you made it up. I advise using the correct URL, it'll work better.
But I'd take this job over the previous one any day - at least people aren't crazy.
May. 8th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)

To do some of our folks justice, it's sometimes hard to make time to explore your tools when your inbox is piled halfway to the ceiling, and 95% of said items can be done using things you already know how to use ... there are a bunch of little steps I need to take to make one of my processes much faster, but it's hard for me to block out time to do it. (So I'm posting to my LJ instead of transitioning items in the content mismanagement system to the new "live static" state that was developed for me, yes indeed ... .)

The massive bundle of conflicting impulses that so many people have with technology and people who understand it is just amazing - the way people can simultaneously be buying into "my computer hates me" and "I hate the IT people" is really odd. I'll tell you, though, around here, it's so unusual to get someone to come to your desk to help, that I think your former coworker should have been sacrificing high-end chocolate bars to you, 'cause she was a helluva lot better off than a couple of thousand end users hereabouts ... .

May. 11th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
--- the way people can simultaneously be buying into "my computer hates me" and "I hate the IT people" is really odd. ---

of course I thought of this quote for you: "People hate to be reminded of ills they are unable or unwilling to remedy: such reminder, in forcing on them a sense of their own incapacity, or a more painful sense of an obligation to make some unpleasant effort, troubles their ease and shakes their self-complacency."

having to admit their weakness (their ignorance), having to admit they need help, makes many people upset with the very ones who would help them; after all, those helpers are the ones who make the ignorance most obvious. but that is no excuse for their behavior...
May. 11th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)

Heh, that's quite a quote! (And of course, at first I typed "quite a quite"!) Who said it originally?

I think what disturbed me about that whole scenario was that when I was doing deskside support myself, people were usually very grateful, and I actually have pleasant memories of that part of my career. So I feel squirmy when I think of someone being that petty to someone who's trying to help. (And of course then there's my INFP Defender issue: anytime I hear about someone I like being given a hard time by another person, I want to go kick some butt ... .)

May. 11th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
that would be Charlotte Bronte, from the book I just finished :)
May. 11th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
"La brea" means "the tar" in Spanish. There is a very famous location in Los Angeles called "The La Brea Tar Pits," or, "The the tar tar pits."

Similar to a park in Santa Barbara which was endowed by a woman named Alice Keck Park, and so is officially the Alice Keck Park Park.
May. 11th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)

Ahh, I love the icon! My Princess Bride calendar is right here on my office wall, and Inigo is my very favorite character. I have a T-shirt with that line on it, too.

The La Brea example is a very close match to the RSVP silliness. But the other one is actually sort of the inverse ... see, "Park" is what my husband the engineer would call an "overloaded operator" - the words are homonyms and homographs but they don't actually mean the same thing.

So in one case we have two different words that mean the same thing, and in the other we have a single word that means two different things. And I'm finding the juxtaposition of the two ideas rather fun.

May. 11th, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
I think the solution to this problem is to do away with acronyms, asap. ;)

I also hear myself saying things like "put in your PIN number at the ATM machine"... and then it's even worse because *I'm* the one doing it... and God knows I should have no possible excuse, or, er, just that I'm human.

really, though, it is a bad idea for Americans to use French acronyms/initialisms when we can't even manage our own!
May. 11th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)

Hnnnhh ... so when did acronyms/initials become the thing? Obviously they've proliferated like mice since at least the start of the 20th c, but when did they come in?

My brain is piping up "Probably not until spelling was regularized" but I'm not really sure whether that has anything to do with it.

May. 11th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
so when did acronyms/initials become the thing?
I'm blaming the military. mostly just because.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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