Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Verbal Stuff That I Like: Tech Edition

This (with some redactivity to keep the identity of my employer[s] unknown) is from an e-mail from the tech guy at work.

During the maintenance periods, well-behaved servers will queue messages that are bound for unavailable Wherever email systems.

No clue what it means, but I like it. But hey!, I do have some speculation about what "well-behaved servers" means. In The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., in chapter 5 ("Grammar and Usage" by Bryan A. Garner), in "Glossary of Troublesome Expressions" (sec. 5.202), the entry for gentleman reads
This word is a vulgarism when used as a synonym for man. When used in reference to a cultured, refined man, it is susceptible to some of the same objections as those leveled against lady. Use it cautiously. Cf. lady.
This is the only place in the manual where Garner uses vulgarism; nowhere does he define it. (Although he does implicitly define a "cultured, refined" person throughout the chapter; it seems to mean somebody who writes and talks the way Garner wants them to.) But it's likely that vulgarisms are a subset (whether proper or improper, I don't know--we disapprove of impropriety, but if the set is a set of improprieties, is a proper subset itself improper?), and where was I anyway? Right, I remember now. Vulgarisms are probably a subset of those usages that Garner dislikes. So maybe, taking a cue (and/or queue) from Garner, would a well-behaved server be one who says to a cultured, refined male patron "Would Monsieur like an extra shot of horseradish juice?" instead of "Would The Gentleman like an extra shot of horseradish juice?"?

Or whatever. One of these years, I'm going to post my review of Garner's chapter. When I get around to it.

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