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re-illiterate
Posted: 18 December 2007 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Found by a British blogger (not me) her comment:

What a joy - not only a greengrocer’s apostrophe, but a neologism that means the exact opposite of what was presumably meant. For Christmas presents there’s Mastercard - but re-illiterate: priceless!

And the ad in question:

“Technical Author - Contract

Based in Farnborough we are currently recruiting for a technical author who has had experience using Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Illustrator and FrameMaker. Candidates responding to this position will require full understanding of product development life cycle, the ability to re-illiterate technical documentations into basic documents for less technical body’s to understand and have experience writing manuals and user guides for mobile phone products.” - job ad on JobServe

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Posted: 18 December 2007 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t even understand what word they had in mind.

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Posted: 18 December 2007 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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They certainly do need a technical writer.

It’s pretty obvious what they mean. “Illiterate” can be noun, meaning one who cannot read or write. They verbed the noun, meaning to make someone forget how to read or write or to make a document incomprehensible. So to “re-illiterate” someone is to make a document incomprehensible again, after the editors have had their go at it. (The executives in my company illiterate the press releases I write just prior to publication all the time.) Clearly, this company wants the writer to thoroughly confuse their customer base by producing incomprehensible manuals. Companies do this as a matter of course, I just have never seen it so clearly stated as an objective.

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Posted: 18 December 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Perhaps they meant “re-literate”.

Verbing the adjective to indicate making technical documents easier to understand to lay persons.

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Posted: 18 December 2007 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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They could have been aiming for illuminate which can mean to make clearer.  Or, since they’re looking for Illustrator (graphics) and Frameworks (desktop publishing), perhaps they mean to make it more readable by re-illuminating it - changing the layout, illustrations and other embellishments rather than the text (perhaps even converting it into a picture book or “body’s” language ^^).

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Posted: 19 December 2007 02:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I think they meant to use illiterate, but it is a very tortuous route that they have travelled.  “literate” has been extended and associated with skills other than reading and writing (or literature if you want to be really basic) e.g. computer literate.
So perhaps by a literate docuement they do not mean “well written”, but one prepared for those “literate” in the particular technical subject. Then by further extension “illiterate” it (nowa verb) to make it suitable for a wider audience.

So sort of what Donkehotay suggested but in reverse.

(I thought someone should try to defend the use :-)

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Posted: 19 December 2007 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Rereading the original makes it look like steve_g has got it.  Now all we have to do is see if “illiterate” (pronounced ill-LIT-er 8, not ill-LIT-er-it) is used in the field.

There’s still the grocer’s apostrophe.

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Posted: 19 December 2007 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Regardless of their intended meaning, I am intrigued with the “greengrocer’s apostrophe”, having never encountered the phrase before.  I assume we’re talking about the apostrophe in “body’s”.  Why is it called a greengrocer’s apostrophe?  Am I correct in thinking it is rightpondian?

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Posted: 19 December 2007 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It’s used a lot here in leftpondia especially by teachers of English, only we call it the grocers’ apostrophe.  I thought we had discussed it here before, but I couldn’t find it. 

Wikipedia has a good piece on it.

It is believed that the term was first coined in the middle of the 20th century by a teacher of languages working in Liverpool, at a time when such mistakes were common in the handwritten signs and advertisements of greengrocers, e.g., Apple’s 1/- a pound, orange’s 1/6d a pound.

Flicker has a collection of photos on the subject called ”grocers’ apostrophe”.

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Posted: 19 December 2007 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Could it be that the writer was going for reiterate and missed?

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Posted: 19 December 2007 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I think jheem’s suggestion is much more likely than anything based on “illiterate,” which is, after all, not a verb.

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Posted: 19 December 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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jheem - 19 December 2007 08:38 AM

Could it be that the writer was going for reiterate and missed?

So - an eggcorn?

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Posted: 19 December 2007 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think they just meant rewrite but thought re-illiterate sounded better.  Such a pity that it’s not a proper word because it is pure techno-speak (in keeping with the advertised position) and does a wonderful job of making an already badly worded advert even worse.

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Posted: 20 December 2007 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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This site seems appropriate. Chicken’s And Egg’s is wonderful but given the thread title, Recruitment at it’s Best is tempting.

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Posted: 20 December 2007 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I think jheem’s suggestion is much more likely than anything based on “illiterate,” which is, after all, not a verb.

It is now....

Jheem might be right, but the other possibilities are more fun.
Maybe we should really spoil things; Flynn, did the blog give the name of the company?  We could call them and ask what they meant.  Something for the pre-christmas slowdown…

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Posted: 20 December 2007 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Jheem might be right

As a former tech writer who’s spent most of his working years in the belly of the IT monster with many native and non-native speakers of English, it was simply the first thing which came to mind. Transfer of information, indeed. How about pre-alliterate?

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