Help Desk

This Is Not* True

Comic Transcript

MARK: Fine. If I can’t transfer the files here with my thumb drive, and I can’t log in to VPN at home because my internet service is down, I’ll just have to take my laptop to a cafe or restauraunt or something that offers a wireless hotspot and do ti from there.

ALEX: You’re going to a Starbucks just to use their wireless access?

MARK: No, I was thinking of the McFoodstuffs down the street. They offer free wireless.

ALEX: You forgot the asterisk.

MARK: Huh?

ALEX: The asterisk. You forgot to include the asterisk. You said “they offer free wireless access,” when what you should have said is “they offer free* wireless.”

MARK: There’s no difference.

ALEX: Yes there is. An asterisk negates the word it’s attached to.

MARK: No it doesn’t. An asterisk indicates that there is supplemental information available at the bottom of the page or at the end of the text… information that might break the document’s flow if it were included in the main body of the text.

ALEX: That’s what an asterisk means when a technical writer uses it. A technical writer didn’t write the McFoodstuffs claim, a marketer did. When a marketer uses an asterisk, it negates the meaning of the word it’s attached to.

MARK: Do marketers ever feel any shame over the way they continuously corrupt the English language?

ALEX: Yes.*

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