Sentence Structure for Geeks

Do you have difficulty communicating with your colleagues? Are you often misunderstood? Did the last girl you asked out sort of look at you strangely, then walk off? Was the first George Bush in office the last time you were asked to present to management? If any of these statements apply to you, then you may be suffering from ASS. Abbreviated Sentence Syndrome is a serious disorder affecting thousands of people in the system support and software development fields. In order to call attention to this growing problem we have put together a short list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) that may help you determine whether you, too, have ASS.

Q. Do I have ASS?

A. You may. Can you imagine yourself in the following conversation?

Manager: Bill, we seem to have a load problem on db21. It’s lost 20% of its throughput at peak trading hours over the last three days. What should we do to get a handle on this?

You: Power supply.

One can easily imagine the manager’s consternation at this reply. Does Bill mean that the problem might be caused by the power supply; or that we can use a power supply to debug it; or that he is working on a power supply and needs to finish before he can assist with the load problem? There’s just no way to know! (LOL).

Still not sure? How about this interaction?

Coworker: I keep getting a linker error on this library, and I’ve checked the exports three times. You wrote this module, right? Have you seen this problem?

You: Set build variable.

Coworker, unsure of himself and in fear of appearing to be an idiot, wanders off, nodding. (LMAO).

If either of these scenarios sound like you, then you may indeed be suffering from ASS. An ASS sufferer is unable to communicate with others by articulating full and complete thoughts. In most cases the afflicted person just manages to squeeze out the two or three most important words, devoid of all context.

Q. If I have ASS, what can I do?

A. A daily regimen of sentence structure drills will help you learn to formulate full and complete thoughts, with all the nuance and context that the average thinking human expects. It’s not easy, but if you are determined to cure your ASS then we are determined to help. Working together we can change:

Link through Trades table.


Security and Amount both have foreign keys into the Trades table.

It’s not an easy path, but with every day you’ll be speaking and writing more clearly, as your confidence and abilities grow.

Q. Who discovered ASS?

A. ASS has been known for many years. There were outbreaks in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States, and even earlier in Europe, however it was thought to have been controlled by modern medicines, including bourbon. The most recent outbreak surprised researchers when it emerged in the early 1990’s, beginning first in Finland, and then spreading westward. It is not known who first used the term ASS to describe the syndrome. Most linguists feel it probably emerged spontaneously in the aftermath of a conversation with a sufferer.

Q. I don’t like to practice things. Is there a pharmaceutical treatment?

A. Some ASS sufferers find the condition improves with alcohol consumption, however the effects are difficult to quantify and control, and oftentimes the swing is so pronounced in the opposite direction that the sufferer simply appears to others to be a bigger ASS.

Q. Do you think ASS is harming my career development?

A. Yes. People afflicted with ASS tend to stall on the lower rungs of a technical organization. Take for example this tragic exchange:

Boss: Steve, we have an opening in Architecture. Are you interested, or would you rather stay on the implementation side?

Steve: Good.

Steve’s boss never raised the subject with him again, and he learned later that month that some guy from the call center had joined the Architecture Group.

Q. Does ASS affect writing as well as speaking?

A. Yes, although there are individual differences. In fact some people who suffer from verbal ASS write very eloquently, and the opposite is also true. In the following example Tom was asked a question during a meeting. After the meeting he explained his answer to his boss this way:

It’s a simple matter of consolidating servers. Our servers draw about 400 watts each, and so you can see that a 20% reduction in the number of boxes is a significant savings.

Later he also explained himself to another colleague in an email:

U cut boxes. More powr? No way.

As you can see, compelling communications skills do not always extend across media boundaries.

Q. And I care why? I’m smart. They need me here.

A. We agree that this is a compelling line of reasoning. However, consider this: you won’t always be smart. Yes, you may think you can keep up with technology and stay on top of the game for the next thirty years of your career, but you’re wrong. Younger people with no kids and no responsibilities will have hours and hours more time to master the latest acronym than you will. Once this happens you will need to be able to communicate well in order to justify your continued employment. Imagine this email conversation:

Big boss: Ed, the new developers write twice as much code as you, and now your manager tells me you need six weeks of training on FLIM.FLAM. You’ve known for a long time how important FLIM.FLAM is to us, and yet you’ve made no progress. I’m starting to rethink our relationship with you.


What are Ed’s chances of getting the gold watch at this firm? Not very good, as we think you’ll agree.

ASS should be taken seriously, and if nothing else we hope this FAQ and guide have shown others what a burden ASS can be. Those suffering from it deserve our empathy and assistance, and that’s what our mission here at the Betz Institute for Grammar and Abbreviated Sentence Syndrome is all about.

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