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Subject: Re: [office-comment] More naughty words (ODF all versions)

On Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 9:40 AM, Alex Brown <alexb@griffinbrown.co.uk> wrote:

> The following are not likely to survive in normative text:
> * "whether or not" -> "whether" (generally) (e.g. "These groups specify
> whether or not to repeat a row or column on the next page" 8.1)

Prof. Bernstein /1 believes no such uniform  transformation is
permissible. While he recognizes that a trailing "or not" is usually a
space-waster, he also vews the phrase's use as mandatory when the
intention is to give equal stress to the alternatives.

"One way to test whether the 'or not' is necessary is to substitute
'if' for 'whether.' If the change to 'if' produces a different meaning
... the 'or not' must be supplied."

And according to Student Merrell, "whether" is usually a space-waster
when "if" would do the job. On the other hand, "or not" is normally
only a space-waster but seldom causes changes in meaning when trailing
a "whether." So prefer "if" over "whether" but do not worry over-much
when "or not" trails "whether."

> * "it is recommended" should be re-cast around "should" (e.g. in "it is
> recommended that vector graphics are stored in the [SVG] format and
> bitmap graphics in the [PNG] format" 9.4.4)

"SHOULD" is inappropriate when its effect is to bestow conformance on
a break in interoperability. JTC 1 Directives Annex I:

"Standards designed to facilitate interoperability need to specify
clearly and unambiguously the conformity requirements that are
essential to achieve the interoperability."

"SHOULD" creates no conformity requirement.

/1 Theodore Bernsten, The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English
Usage (1965), pg. 476.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

Universal Interoperability Council

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