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Re: Use of the first person in messages from the computer

I agree with the debian-l10n-english position that first person is
inappropriate in debconf questions; we should not personify computers.

On Thu, Feb 09, 2012 at 02:11:38PM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:

> > My reviewer also seems to think there is (sometimes?) something wrong
> > with the use of the second person to refer to the user or the owner of
> > the system.  [...]

> I disagree with making things impersonal for the sake of it, but I'd
> note that the user is not necessarily the system's owner, so I'm
> not sure about using the possessive.

We no longer consider people something that can be owned either, but we
still say "your wife", "your children", "your boss".

And "your side of town" doesn't imply ownership.  One of the legitimate and
natural uses of possessives in English is to denote relative proximity.

I have never heard of any user being confused by references to "their
computer".  I think this is an artificially constructed argument to justify
the personal preferences of a small minority of people involved in
debian-l10n-english, based on a style guide from a different context *for a
different language*.

I categorically reject the notion that removing second-person usage from our
debconf questions is at all beneficial.  And when you fix non-problems in
your language, you almost invariably make things worse by reducing clarity
or increasing verbosity.

Instead of trying to eliminate second-person pronouns, it would be far
better if people tried to find ways that fewer questions would need to be
asked of the user at high priority in the first place.

> > Finally, the reviewer revealed in the review that they're not a native
> > speaker of English.  Is it normal for l10n reviews to be conducted by
> > non-native speakers of the target language ?  Are we really so short
> > of native English speaking l10n reviewers ?  If so I would be happy to
> > help (although you may find me too opinionated...)

> Yes, we are so short of native English speakers to do the reviews.
> Help would be welcome, but we probably should resolve the differences
> above as a first step, else it will just inflame things.

Yes.  I'm unlikely to use my finite Debian time for template reviews anyway,
but I'm certainly not going to do so as long as debian-l10n-english is used
as a vehicle for imposing arbitrary personal style rules that don't have
consensus among the wider English speaking communtiy.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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