Re: `host name' vs. `hostname'
On Thu, Feb 28, 2002 at 11:46:22PM -0500, Colin Walters wrote:
> On Thu, 2002-02-28 at 14:50, Matt Kraai wrote:
> > Howdy,
> > I am pleased to report that earlier today I was able to install
> > [...]
> > Which term is preferred, `host name' or `hostname'. The
> > boot-floppies use both on the same screen, and some consistency
> > would be nice. FOLDOC lists it as one word[1,2], but the
> > hostname manual page uses two. Any preference?
> I think you'll have people telling you both are correct. It's a lot
> like "filesystem" versus "file system". The former is very popular in
> common usage, but you'll usually only see the latter in formal works.
I think that there is a real difference in meaning between "hostname" and
"host name". The former is a command that is recognized by most Unix systems
and is documented with a man page. The latter is the expression in standard
English that is used to refer to that which is returned by the command
"hostname". Thus, there can be situations where the two expressions can be
used in the same paragraph, but ... 1) they are not interchangable because
they refer to different things. 2) the writer who mixes the two must be
confident that his audience is aware of the distinction. These considerations
do not apply to filesystem vs. "file system" because there is no filesystem
command. In general, it is bad writing to use different lexemes for the same
thing or idea. Where different lexemes are used without an explicit statement
of their equivalence, it is legitimate for the reader to infer that different
things are being referred to. Where they are actually referring to the same
thing, there is avoidable confusion in the mind of the reader.
If the screen is referring to the string that is returned by hostname on a
well configured POSIX system, then IMO, "host name" should be used.
Consider the following prompts for information:
"Enter the string that you want to have returned by hostname:"
"Enter the host name for this computer:"
I prefer the latter; the former is needlessly verbose.
"Enter your hostname:"
is simply wrong.
But this is just the personal opinion of one native speaker of American
Paul E Condon | Failure is not an option.
email@example.com | It's bundled with the software.