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

On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 08:01:26AM +0100, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 09, 2012 at 12:20:06PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > I don't know where the English l10n team got the idea from that there
> > is something wrong with a computer speaking to the user in the first
> > person.  But in my opinion this criticism is entirely misplaced.
> I believe this stems from a feeling that having the computer speak in
> first-person form implies some form of (artificial?) sentience on the
> part of the computer. A computer is an inanimate object that just
> happens to have the capability to make calculations and interact with
> humans. Would you refer to a table as a person?

I would say it's not so much the lack of actual sentience but the lack
of a person, be it real or fictional. It's fine for "I" to appear in the
speech bubble of an animated paperclip, because it's the cutesy
paperclip speaking. It's just a cartoony character and we can accept

Inside a debconf question it is just weird. The problem is the sudden
disembodied voice out of nowhere. I think it's bad style to use "I"
without establishing the speaker first and it *grates*. For that reason
it also appears to be written by a non-native speaker of English who
literally translated some idiom of their native language without
recognizing that it looks off in English (cf. referring to a computer or
program as "he").

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