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Not getting too technical, I am writing a configuration file for a piece of software I have developed. This software allows others to write "services" and attach them to my software.

I have written a simple service that serves as an example and I have included it in the release bundle. It is the user's choice however, whether to build this service or not.

The part where they select whether to build that service or not, has a help text attached to it. There, I have this sentence:

This option enables build of a simple sample service ...

Honestly, the "simple sample service" sounds strange to me. Am I being too picky with my words? If not, what alternative do you suggest?

Notes: I certainly want to mention that it is a sample service and it's not meant to be used. I would be happy if I could include "simple" also, to encourage them to take a look at it.

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Apr 4 '12 at 13:52

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

Proofreading/suggestions for readability are not the best fit here. Maybe writers.SE? Relevant to here, your sentence is perfectly grammatical, but yes, it sounds a little too alliterative for technical prose. – Mitch Apr 4 '12 at 13:49
Actually, I think the alliteration is charming, and I would smile to see it in documentation. – Lauren Ipsum Apr 4 '12 at 15:24
@LaurenIpsum, haha, well I guess it's not that bad! – Shahbaz Apr 4 '12 at 15:35
Can you provide more of the documentation, to give us context? Also, saying that it sounds strange doesn't give us much to go on. How do you want it to sound? Can you get specific with your concerns? – Neil Fein Apr 4 '12 at 15:46
@NeilFein, I already got my answer, so no need to worry. I am not a native English speaker and there would have been no way on earth I would known of the word "alliteration". That was what "feels weird" and "kind of strange" were trying to describe. Feel free to edit the question. – Shahbaz Apr 4 '12 at 16:03
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is nothing wrong with the phrase "simple sample service". However, if you want to avoid alliteration you could use other words that convey the "not for production use" nature of the service:

  • test
  • prototype
  • demo


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Demo is perfect! Thanks – Shahbaz Apr 4 '12 at 13:59

You might try substituting the word "basic" for "simple" - that would eliminate the most awkward part of the alliteration.

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That could also work! I already chose to change sample to demo, but I'll remember this for another time. – Shahbaz Apr 4 '12 at 15:28

The minimal change needed to avoid disconcerting alliteration is to just call it a "simple example service".

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+1 Much better. – Joe Apr 5 '12 at 23:20

protected by Neil Fein Apr 4 '12 at 15:51

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