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DR. ENGLISH: A Man with No Name

from GBA

Moreso than almost all other people, geoprofessionals must write unambiguously. That becomes harder each day, as we cede governance of our linguistic environment to technocrats who don't know what they’re really saying, and the people who listen, believing what they hear to be correct. Consider this typical request, repeated millions of times daily by robots or disembodied, recorded voices: "Please leave your name at the sound of the tone." Realistically, were I to fulfill that request, I would be forced to continue on in life knowing that I have checked my voice somewhere, but received no namecheck and have no idea whatsoever about how to ever get my name back. Even more frightening is the oft-mouthed-by-customer-service-representatives request, "May I have your name, please." And, almost unbelievably, most of us are readily willing to oblige. Why should I give someone my name? Surely, the person has a perfectly good name of his or her own. And after giving the person my name, what am I supposed to do for an identity? And that's what ambiguity can lead to. Were someone, somewhere to make an effort to use our wonderful language as we should, a simple "Please tell me your name" would do just fine...and the voice on the other end of the line would be spared my 120 seconds of negative commentary. Especially when the voice belongs to a robot. more


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