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Other Lexicon Conventions

Other Lexicon Conventions: ===========================

Entries are sorted in case-blind ASCII collation order (rather than the letter-by-letter order ignoring interword spacing common in mainstream dictionaries), except that all entries beginning with nonalphabetic characters are sorted after Z. The case-blindness is a feature, not a bug.

The beginning of each entry is marked by a colon (`:') at the left margin. This convention helps out tools like hypertext browsers that benefit from knowing where entry boundaries are, but aren't as context-sensitive as humans.

In pure ASCII renderings of the Jargon File, you will see {} used to bracket words which themselves have entries in the File. This isn't done all the time for every such word, but it is done everywhere that a reminder seems useful that the term has a jargon meaning and one might wish to refer to its entry.

In this all-ASCII version, headwords for topic entries are distinguished from those for ordinary entries by being followed by "::" rather than ":"; similarly, references are surrounded by "{{" and "}" rather than "{" and "}".

Defining instances of terms and phrases appear in `slanted type'. A defining instance is one which occurs near to or as part of an explanation of it.

Prefix ** is used as linguists do; to mark examples of incorrect usage.

We follow the `logical' quoting convention described in the Writing Style section above. In addition, we reserve double quotes for actual excerpts of text or (sometimes invented) speech. Scare quotes (which mark a word being used in a nonstandard way), and philosopher's quotes (which turn an utterance into the string of letters or words that name it) are both rendered with single quotes.

References such as `malloc(3)' and `patch(1)' are to UNIX facilities (some of which, such as `patch(1)', are actually freeware distributed over USENET). The UNIX manuals use `foo(n)' to refer to item foo in section (n) of the manual, where n=1 is utilities, n=2 is system calls, n=3 is C library routines, n=6 is games, and n=8 (where present) is system administration utilities. Sections 4, 5, and 7 of the manuals have changed roles frequently and in any case are not referred to in any of the entries.

Various abbreviations used frequently in the lexicon are summarized here:


     abbreviation adj.
     adjective adv.
     adverb alt.
     alternate cav.
     caveat conj.
     conjunction esp.
     especially excl.
     exclamation imp.
     imperative interj.
     interjection n.
     noun obs.
     obsolete pl.
     plural poss.
     possibly pref.
     prefix prob.
     probably prov.
     proverbial quant.
     quantifier suff.
     suffix syn.
     synonym (or synonymous with) v.
     verb (may be transitive or intransitive) var.
     variant vi.
     intransitive verb vt.
     transitive verb

Where alternate spellings or pronunciations are given, alt. separates two possibilities with nearly equal distribution, while var. prefixes one that is markedly less common than the primary.

Where a term can be attributed to a particular subculture or is known to have originated there, we have tried to so indicate. Here is a list of abbreviations used in etymologies:


     University of California at Berkeley Cambridge
     the university in England (*not* the city in Massachusetts where
     MIT happens to be located!) BBN
     Bolt, Beranek & Newman CMU
     Carnegie-Mellon University Commodore
     Commodore Business Machines DEC
     The Digital Equipment Corporation Fairchild
     The Fairchild Instruments Palo Alto development group Fidonet
     See the Fidonet entry IBM
     International Business Machines MIT
     Massachusetts Institute of Technology; esp. the legendary MIT AI Lab
     culture of roughly 1971 to 1983 and its feeder groups, including the
     Tech Model Railroad Club NRL
     Naval Research Laboratories NYU
     New York University OED
     The Oxford English Dictionary Purdue
     Purdue University SAIL
     Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (at Stanford
     University) SI
     From Syst`eme International, the name for the standard
     conventions of metric nomenclature used in the sciences Stanford
     Stanford University Sun
     Sun Microsystems TMRC
     Some MITisms go back as far as the Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC) at
     MIT c. 1960.  Material marked TMRC is from "An Abridged Dictionary
     of the TMRC Language", originally compiled by Pete Samson in 1959 UCLA
     University of California at Los Angeles UK
     the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) USENET
     See the USENET entry WPI
     Worcester Polytechnic Institute, site of a very active community of
     PDP-10 hackers during the 1970s XEROX PARC
     XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center, site of much pioneering research in
     user interface design and networking Yale
     Yale University

Some other etymology abbreviations such as UNIX and PDP-10 refer to technical cultures surrounding specific operating systems, processors, or other environments. The fact that a term is labelled with any one of these abbreviations does not necessarily mean its use is confined to that culture. In particular, many terms labelled `MIT' and `Stanford' are in quite general use. We have tried to give some indication of the distribution of speakers in the usage notes; however, a number of factors mentioned in the introduction conspire to make these indications less definite than might be desirable.

A few new definitions attached to entries are marked [proposed]. These are usually generalizations suggested by editors or USENET respondents in the process of commenting on previous definitions of those entries. These are *not* represented as established jargon.