downloadable
Posted: 09 March 2008 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Usage maven help needed.

I’ve been asked to help with technical issues on a website, but while reading the copy, I came across: “This downloadable e-book...”

The meaning and intent is clear, but it just seems, well, unprofessional, and this site is aimed at business professionals. I’m thinking that e-books are pretty much downloadable by definition, but she says she’s trying to convey a sense of “immediately available” that e-book by itself doesn’t have. I played with other configurations like, “This e-book (available for immediate download)...” but they all seemed clunky compared to the original phrase. It does sort of flow nicely, but that flow is interrupted, for me, by using a word that flags my spell checker (for want of a better description).

Is “downloadable” an obvious form of download that just hasn’t made it into dictionaries yet, or does it strike you as an abomination that should be put to the torch and buried under a mountain of stones?

FWIW: 51,800,000 g-hits for downloadable

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Posted: 09 March 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Is “downloadable” an obvious form of download that just hasn’t made it into dictionaries yet, or does it strike you as an abomination that should be put to the torch and buried under a mountain of stones?

The former.  51,800,000 g-hits is very convincing evidence it’s well established in the language at this point.  It’s well formed, the meaning is clear, and (as you have discovered) there’s no easy substitute.  Let it through the gates (says this copyeditor).

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Posted: 09 March 2008 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I find it unexceptionable, and the OED2 cites it from 1983 (under the verb “download").  MWO also lists it (again, under the verb), so it’s not accurate to say that it hasn’t made it into dictionaries yet.

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Posted: 10 March 2008 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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"Downloadable” in itself seems to me a perfectly good word. My quarrel with “this downloadable e-book”, however, is that to me it doesn’t actually convey the sense “immediately available”; it strikes my eye as a simple pleonasm. “This immediately downloadable e-book” is clear but clumsy; I think “this e-book (available for immediate download)...” is the best bet of the three.

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Posted: 10 March 2008 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks all!

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Posted: 10 March 2008 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 10 March 2008 05:15 AM

“Downloadable" in itself seems to me a perfectly good word. My quarrel with “this downloadable e-book”, however, is that to me it doesn’t actually convey the sense “immediately available”; it strikes my eye as a simple pleonasm. “This immediately downloadable e-book” is clear but clumsy; I think “this e-book (available for immediate download)...” is the best bet of the three.

I don’t think that “downloadable e-book” is necessarily a pleonasm.  Had I an e-book reader, I might have an e-book on it that is not downloadable:  I might have obtained it via some medium other than the internet (or do we use “download” for something transferred via disc?  I’m not sure) or it might no longer be available.

I expect that in most contexts the “downloadable” is implied and so can be omitted, but I don’t think this always the case.

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Posted: 10 March 2008 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 10 March 2008 05:15 AM

… however, is that to me it doesn’t actually convey the sense “immediately available”;


If there is a downloadable file on a website, it is generally downloadable on demand while one is visiting the site.  Is that not immediately available?  I would only qualify “downloadable” on a website if there were some specific reason. E.g.:
This downloadable (after a seven-day background check) picture of a gun…
This downloadable (in 3 months when we finish writing it) help document…

it strikes my eye as a simple pleonasm. ...

It is possible to make web content files (pictures, videos, music files, pdf documents, e-books, ...) viewable but NOT downloadable, i.e. only readable in the browser whiel online.  You could also refer to something that is available to download through another page or website without linking to the download (This downloadable utility from google.com).  It’s not useless information.

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