i.e. vs. e.g.

Peter Pentchev roam at ringlet.net
Fri Sep 10 08:13:00 UTC 2004

On Thu, Sep 09, 2004 at 10:47:24AM -0400, John Baldwin wrote:
> On Thursday 09 September 2004 03:51 am, Ceri Davies wrote:
> > On Wed, Sep 08, 2004 at 06:27:13PM -0600, Warren Block wrote:
> > > On Wed, 8 Sep 2004, Ceri Davies wrote:
> > > >Apologies in advance for coming over all schoolmaster like, but I've
> > > >noticed a few instances where I believe that people are confusing the
> > > >terms "i.e." and "e.g.", and so here's a little reminder/summary:
> > > >
> > > >	i.e. can be read as "that is to say".
> > > >
> > > >	e.g. can be read as "for example".
> > >
> > > The FDP says to avoid contractions.  Maybe these should be avoided in
> > > the same way.
> >
> > I think that would be overkill, and if we stopped doing things that we
> > did wrong occasionally then there wouldn't be much of FreeBSD left ;-)
> >
> > I was "just saying" really.
> The reason for avoiding contractions though is to avoid confusing non-native 
> readers, and I think that that's a good argument for spelling out i.e. as 
> "that is", and e.g. as "for example" as well unless this type of idiom is 
> common to more than just English.

I have a gut feeling that pretty much all languages probably have
"predefined", often-used contractions for "that is" and "for example"; I
can certainly vouch for Bulgarian and Russian.  Also, at least "e.g." is
very widely used in virtually all grammar textbooks and dictionaries, so
we can safely assume that non-native speakers ought to know what it
stands for :)  Thus, expanding those two or even avoiding their use in
newly-written documentation could be kind of overkill IMHO, even though
I heartily agree with Ceri that misusing them can lead to confuzzlement
on part of the reader.


Peter Pentchev	roam at ringlet.net    roam at cnsys.bg    roam at FreeBSD.org
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If I had finished this sentence,
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