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Communication RE: gainsaying and Flash captioning

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 03:44:58 -0400 (EDT)
To: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Cc: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.55.0407310323380.32166@homer.w3.org>

It isn't helpful to pick the most impressive-sounding way of saying something
if your goal is to get the idea across. If your goal is simply to make us
think you are smart, it might help. But in this group it seems to me that how
well you explain your idea is a good measure of how good you are. I often
read things I wrote and wish I had taken the time to be clearer.

"le mot juste" is french for "the right word". It has a sense of having
exactly the right word, rather than just any old thing that means what you
want to say. For example, in poems, it is a challenge to find the word that
fits, has the right sound, meaning, mood, and so on. Speaking french is often
used to seem even more smart, and make what you say seem extra clever.

As a french speaker, it seems more suited to a french list. There are a few
french phrases like "je ne sais quoi", "le mot juste", "savoir faire", and so
on that were common in english, and useful to show that you have a good
education (since they were only taught in fancy schools, or learned by people
who wanted to seem posh). There are simple ways to say the same thing in

As a language scholar, it seems to me a shame that people don't learn more
about languages - especially if they only speak one. It makes it hard for
them to appreciate great artistic literature. But that shouldn't stop them
from working in other fields, like accessibility.

In writing with style and flair, as Joe does in his book [1], it makes sense
to use interesting language. In trying to communicate basic technical
concepts effectively to an international audience, such as this working
group, it seems better to stick to simple expression. Art isn't always
accessible, but technical communication should be if we want to get it right.

[1] Joe can give you a reference. In my personal opinion it is a bit above
average in technical terms (great at some things, ordinary at others). But it
is far and away the most enjoyable accessibility book to read because of the

I reviewed it along with a handful of others somewhere, and said as much.
I've read about a dozen books on the topic, in english, spanish, italian and
portuguese, and Joe's writing has more style than any two others.

just my 2 cents worth...



On Fri, 30 Jul 2004, Joe Clark wrote:

>> I don't have a PhD as many people don't.
>Like, I dunno, me.
>> So, people stop using big words to show off your large
>> vocabulary and start following the guidelines.
>I merely used le mot juste.
>     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
>     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
>     Expect criticism if you top-post

Charles McCathieNevile  http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  tel: +61 409 134 136
SWAD-E http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe         fax(france): +33 4 92 38 78 22
 Post:   21 Mitchell street, FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia    or
 W3C, 2004 Route des Lucioles, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Received on Saturday, 31 July 2004 03:45:06 UTC

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