@Betajet: I'm intrigued by the question as to why writing for engineers would be any different than good writing practices in general...
Because engineers could care less -- if they really wanted to learn, there are a myriad books out there already -- my goal is to write a book that is so different (and funny and interesting) that they want to read it and can't help learning someting while they do so.
I think that if I were of the feminine persuasion, I would be a bit "niggled" seeing thing like "him" and "his" and "mankind" and "penmanship" and "freshman" and "chairman" scattered around throughout various writings.
Hey Max, you forgot one example: woman.
Just sayin'. That "man" in the word hardly implies male. Not in the word "woman," nor in any of the other overused examples. Another example mentioned in the past was "history," for those who have no idea of the etymology. I too lived through 1973.
All too often, the human race just has to find somerthing new to grumble about. And if you notice, this usually happens in cultures that are comparatively privileged, as they like to say these days. If they were still scratching for a living, they'd have other things to fill up their time.
I think the "se" in this example is a reflexive pronoun. It means "to you". The reason this actually works for your example, is that spanish (unlike english) does not require the subject to be stated, but is often left implied, as in this example.
Max wrote: Maybe it's just that I'm working on my book about grammar and punctuation and writing in general for engineers ("Don't use commas like a stupid person," as Lynne Truss would say)...
I'm intrigued by the question as to why writing for engineers would be any different than good writing practices in general, such as those encouraged by Strunk and White. The idea of a book on "Electrical English" reminds me of when my mother was chairwhatever of the English department at a small college. [Betajet's mother taught English? Who'd a thunk it?] She once brought home a technical advert addressed to the "Elec Eng Dept". Since the college didn't have any engineering departments, they sent it to English as the closest match.
My favorite story about commas is from James Thurber's The Years with Ross (chapter "Writers, Artists, Poets, and Such") in which Thurber talks about his battles with New Yorker founder Harold Ross over excess commas. For example, Ross insisted on inserting the comma into "After dinner, the men went into the living room" to give the men time to push back their chairs and stand up :-)
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