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Re: Reasonable definitions

From: Michael Witten <mfwitten@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 20:36:29 -0000
To: "Tab Atkins Jr." <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <f2be482fadb54a859fab2ada3a0ca7b9-mfwitten@gmail.com>
On Tue, 15 Nov 2011 12:24:44 -0800, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:

> On Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 10:45 AM, Michael Witten <mfwitten@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> On Tue, 15 Nov 2011 10:13:34 -0800, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
>>
>>> On Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 7:22 AM, Michael Witten <mfwitten@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> The CSS 2.1 specification uses some very confusing (if not erroneous)
>>>> terminology in describing the fundamental concepts of the Box Model:
>>>>
>>>>  http://www.w3.org/TR/2011/REC-CSS2-20110607/box.html#box-dimensions
>>> [snip]
>>>> The uses of the words `perimeter', `edge', `width', and `box' are
>>>> completely unreasonable unless the following statements are
>>>> considered reasonable:
>>>>
>>>>    * The `perimeter' of an area really means the `outer perimeter'
>>>>      of an area.
>>>>
>>>>      The word `edge' is a suitable synonym for the word `perimeter'.
>>>
>>> Yes, this seems reasonable.  The spec says exactly that.
>>
>> So, it would be reasonable if the spec were to define `orange'
>> as a suitable synonym for `perimeter'?---just because that's
>> what the spec says.
>>
>> Reasonable definitions are usually chosen so as to avoid clashes with
>> existing usage, especially when the proposed synonyms already have
>> some kind of relationship to each other in common language.
>
> Hyperbole helps no one.
>
> Using the word "edge" to refer to the entire perimeter of something is
> a perfectly reasonable and common thing to do in English.  Referring
> to a specific line on a box as being an "edge" is *also* a perfectly
> reasonable and common thing to do in English.
>
> Since both uses are perfectly appropriate English constructs, and
> there's no ambiguity in the usage, I don't see a problem to be solved.

As I wrote to Glenn Adams here:[0]

  Now, there's nothing wrong with saying "an edge can have edges", as Tab
  said (I'm perfectly capable of managing that kind of abstraction), but
  it's not a very wise choice for conveying these concepts.

It is especially not wise when a second usage of the word `edge' is
introduced first IMPLICITLY.

References
----------

[0] Subject: Re: The Spec: On the `edge' of despair
    Message-ID: <06fb486157b143d284aa662f4aeb2ff9-mfwitten@gmail.com>
    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2011Nov/0256.html
Received on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 20:38:51 GMT

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