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View Diary: Even JPL Presenters Treat Boys and Girls Differently (267 comments)

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  •  NASA? (0+ / 0-)

    Would you consider "NASA" to be "specific to a certain discipline"?  If not, why not?

    •  That's just a silly question (0+ / 0-)

      Is 'unemployment' specific to a certain discipline? It's a term of art in economics. But it's also a word that people commonly know of outside the discipline.

      Is NASA a word (or acronym) that people commonly know of outside the discipline? Yes. Is JPL a word (or initialism) that people commonly know of outside the discipline? No.

      Why are you even arguing this? It's silly.

      •  It's not silly (0+ / 0-)

        Why is it silly?  How do you know that NASA is well known outside of aeronautics?  How do you know that JPL isn't?  JPL's initials are plastered over just about every probe and rover we've sent out over the last few decades; I don't think it's silly to expect it to be almost as well known as NASA.

        But by saying it's "silly", you're implying that it's completely obvious that JPL is unheard of amongst any but the well-connected elite, while NASA is known to even the most isolated and poorly read.  So I ask you: on what grounds do you say this?

        •  Well, for one thing, no one asked what NASA (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          matching mole

          stands for.  Several people asked what JPL stands for.  So within an audience that has enough interest to know NASA, there are still a number who are not familiar with JPL.

          The thing is, this discussion is about making writing clearer and more understandable to a wide range of readers.  That seems like a worthy goal.  People are not saying that the diary needs to include any background info on JPL (which would be more burdensome), just that it would be helpful to spell out the name on first use.  If a simple measure can add clarity, why not do it.  I think it's fair to say The New Yorker has a pretty literate, well-read audience.  Even so, they will spell out first use of any abbreviation like this, because they don't want to distract from the flow of the story by sending people elsewhere to look up a term.

          •  NASA wasn't mentioned (0+ / 0-)

            No one asked about "NASA", because the acronym wasn't used in this diary!  I just used it as an example of a similar acronym.

            I don't necessary oppose spelling out acronyms on first use... but to be consistent, don't you have to spell out all acronyms?  If not, how does one determine which acronyms need to be spelled out?

    •  I did think about this later (0+ / 0-)

      I certainly wouldn't bother to explain what DNA stood for in a diary, especially as more people would understand DNA as opposed to deoxyribonucleic acid.

      However DNA and NASA have clearly entered the broader common language and are not just used by geneticists and space scientists.  There seems to be a real split with regards to JPL.  Many, like myself, had never encountered this acronym.  I have heard of the jet-propulsion laboratory but I would guess I've heard the name maybe 1% as often as I've heard NASA.  My tendency is to err on the side of assuming the reader does not know.  I'd rather type a few more letters rather than have confused readers.

      "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge with hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

      by matching mole on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 05:51:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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