I Believe . . . This Makes NO Sense

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 13 00:22:55 UTC 2008

two thoughts:
1) "neutral," being somewhat bland, does not fit the business requirement
that you 'stand out' from the crowd.  (apparently, this 'stand out' feature
is being eroded as the herd adopts it en masse.)

2) in technology circles, there are many firm 'believers' who back arguments
almost entirely on something akin to dogmatic faith.  (e.g., Linux is
*so*much better than PC.  etc).  so, in this context, the -agnostic suffix
plays a bit off of that.

Also, in the business/technology world, vendor lock-in is a significant
problem, so it makes sense that safeguards against it would have their own
words/phrases to be efficiently referenced.  Aside from the -agnostic
suffix, another term for this is _vendor-neutral_.

On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 5:34 PM, Doug_Harris <cats22 at stny.rr.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Doug_Harris <cats22 at STNY.RR.COM>
> Subject:      Re: I Believe . . . This Makes NO Sense
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Whatever happened to the world where "the business of business is
> business" -- NOT (business being) an environment where perfectly
> sensible words and phrases are displaced, for no real reason, by
> totally nonsensical words or phrases.
> They _mean_ 'neutral'. They should simply _say_ 'neutral'.
> --
> That said, I appreciate your feedback on this Ben. (And an appropriate
> plus it _was_, too!)
> dh
> On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Doug_Harris <cats22 at stny.rr.com> wrote:
> >
> > -agnostic -- as in product-agnostic, database-agnostic, vendor-agnostic.
> > domain-agnostic, and so on.
> > There seem to be, all of a sudden, an unbelievable, or un-provable,
> number
> > of variations on that sense-defying coinage.
> > Do you suppose 'they' mean, say, product-neutral, as in something that
> > applies to all products (within a range), or vendor-neutral, as in
> something
> > that would be applicable to or good for all vendors?
> > I first encountered it in a training course for where the context was
> that
> > the company aims to "ensure all call-back script is product-agnostic to
> > avoid any future [confusion]".
> > Never mind the future: I was confused today!
> As it happens (shameless plug alert), Nancy Friedman's latest column for
> the
> Visual Thesaurus is all about the appropriation of religious terms in the
> business world:
> http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/candlepwr/1601/
> The full article is only available to subscribers (rates are quite
> reasonable!), but Nancy helpfully excerpts the section on "agnostic" on her
> own blog:
> ---
> http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2008/11/faithbased-business
> .html<http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2008/11/faithbased-business.html>
> Agnostic: In religious parlance, agnostic -- literally "without knowledge"
> -- refers to a person who has doubts about a deity or religious tenets.
> (The
> term was coined in 1869 by the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley.) In
> business, and especially in technology, agnostic is a suffix attached to
> words such as platform, marketing, and media. In those contexts it simply
> means "neutral" -- a platform-agnostic program can run on PCs, Macs, and
> Linux machines; a media-agnostic publication is created for multiple
> channels (print, online, broadcast, etc.).
> ---
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list