Another Profile-Page creation formatting request

+1 vote
98 views

Related to:

http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/12464/could-we-change-first-hand-knowledge-profile-page-creation

When a new profile page is created, the system generates text for the Biography section; it currently reads like this:

John was born in 1687. He is the son of [[Bearse-147|Joseph Bearse]] and [[Taylor-8369|Martha Taylor]].  He passed away in 1760. <ref>Entered by Kay Tryon, Feb  8, 2012</ref>

There are some grammatical issues with this (and the editor in me goes a bit bonkers every time I see it). The first sentence is in past tense; the second in present tense, the third in past tense. The third also uses a "phrasal verb" (passed away) instead of the more direct verb (died). A more grammatically correct construction would be:

John was born in 1687. He was the son of [[Bearse-147|Joseph Bearse]] and [[Taylor-8369|Martha Taylor]].  He died in 1760. <ref>Entered by Kay Tryon, Feb  8, 2012</ref>

or

John was born in 1687, son of [[Bearse-147|Joseph Bearse]] and [[Taylor-8369|Martha Taylor]].  He died in 1760. <ref>Entered by Kay Tryon, Feb  8, 2012</ref>

I realize that the second variation would require some IF... THEN... coding that is not as simple as the three-sentence structure of the first variation, BUT would work for both deceased and living people.

Thanks.

 

 

in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (696k points)
I can't tell you how many times I've changed the 'is' to 'was'. I wonder if this was done so living people would see themselves as an 'is' instead of a 'was'.  :o)
I assume that's because birth and death dates are definitely in the past, whereas a living person is still the son/daughter of their parents. And actually even when I'm talking about ancestors I tend to say so-and-so IS my 4x great grandmother, and she IS the daughter of so-and-so. But maybe that's just me.

As for using "passed away" instead of "died", it's just nicer. Especially for more recent genealogy, I think people like "passed away" better. And there's nothing grammatically incorrect about phrasal verbs, so I'd vote not to change this one.
Lianne,

You clearly don't live with my husband. He never lets me get away with "passed away."

True, phrasal verbs aren't grammatically incorrect; they're just grammatically weak.

Too many years as an editor,

Jillaine

1 Answer

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Best answer

 

See what you think of the changes.
 
I added some more conditionals to fix the was/is problem.
 
I left "passed away" for now. Like Lianne, I think it sounds more gentle. If people strongly disagree post here.
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
selected by Mary Hammond
I do think "passed away" is gentler, especially with respect to the the recently deceased's surviving family.  Grammatically weak  it may be, but I don't think it trumps sensitivity.  It certainly doesn't do anyone any harm,  nor does it make WikiTree look unprofessional in my opinion (vexing as it may be to grammatical purists).

The one thing that might give me pause is... how will the phrase 'passed away' translate?

- Mike
Re-read this. Somehow, the first time I read it, I missed Mike's

"how will the phrase 'passed away' translate?"

Very good point. AND reminded me why I've come to dislike phrasal verbs so much. I never thought about [considered] phrasal verbs until my 40s when we sublet a room in our house to a post-doc from Italy. In fact, I'd never even heard of them. We discussed the challenges of learning a foreign language, and he told me that the most difficult aspect of learning English was its overuse of phrasal verbs. A couple of examples he gave:

One gets off the bus, but out of the car. Why not just say one exited?

We turn off the light, but we blow out the candle. Why not use "extinguished"?

He reminded me that there are much more direct and often more powerful ways of saying things (although these two examples might not demonstrate that) and I have subsequently attempted to replace phrasal verbs with direct verbs. It's really difficult because they are so imbedded in our day-to-day language.

This may be getting off track (see how difficult it is?), but the translation point Mike raises IS on track.
I am brand new here to wikitree. I am busily changing "passed away" to died on the profiles I am editing. Hence I came here looking for the rationale. I don't think "passed away" is nicer or softer.  Death is sad but using "passed away" doesn't make it better in my view.

I appreciate there may be later threads than this on the topic but I haven't found them yet.

Regards

Anne
Thanks, Anne. I, too, always change "passed away" to died.

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