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bug#7291: 24.0.50; `non-essential' is incomprehensible

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: bug#7291: 24.0.50; `non-essential' is incomprehensible
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2010 18:56:59 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Stefan!

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 04:12:16PM -0400, Stefan Monnier wrote:

> Honestly, I can't think of any way someone who has the least bit of
> familiarity with Elisp can wonder "whether `non-essential'=nil or
> `non-essential'=t means performing a non-essential task (whatever that
> in turn might mean)".

Me.  How should I get the notion of "task" from the logically incomplete
phrase "non-essential?

Please change the name of this variable to say what it means.
"Non-essential" is way, way too abstract (in the sense of woolly,

I write the following as a native English speaker.  The word "essential"
describes a _RELATIONSHIP_ between _TWO_ nouns: A is essential to B if B
without A wouldn't be B at all.  For example, an extension language is
essential to Emacs (?Emacs without an extension language?), and love is
essential to a marriage (?a marriage without love?).

To say that something is "essential" is like saying something is
"better".  Lacking the other noun (possibly implied), it's meaningless.

The variable name "non-essential" is meaningless.  The doc string helps a
little, but not enough.  It doesn't say what the task being executed is
essential _to_.  What would not be what it is to be, were the "essential
task" to be missing?  Such vagueness and linguistic misuse causes not
only puzzlement, but also anger, revulsion and contempt.

Please rename the variable to say what it means.  Thanks!

>         Stefan

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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