Is it a problem if a word describing a software concept has additional potentially controversial meanings in the real world?
To name some examples:
- icon - in software it is a small image which visually describes a file, action or something else. But, it can also mean religious work of art, most commonly a painting.
- abort - in software it usually describes an abnormal user initiated termination of an operation. In real world it is very commonly used to describe a termination of pregnancy.
- master/slave - in software is a model of communication where one device or process has unidirectional control over one or more other devices. In real life it describes the institution of slavery.
- parents killing off their children unless they are zombies is a common thing in Unix, and in real life, well this one is too gross.
I am limiting my question only to the words exposed through user interface (yes, including error messages) to a potentially non-technical user. I'm confident that programmers and system admins feel comfortable with any well known and established terminology, so programming languages, databases, OS-es and various tools are outside the scope of this question.
User interface question boxes and messages in software created for the general public are within the scope, i.e. instant messenger is, but disk partitioner isn't.
I am aware that many other words used in software nowadays used to mean something different some time ago. Logging was usually done to chop firewood for winter and then you would upload it to your truck and download when you get home. But none of these words' original meanings isn't in any way controversial anywhere.
I'll narrow down what do I mean by this question specifically and what do I expect from answers (to avoid the extended subjective discussion):
- Are these words sufficiently well known to the non-technical users, so that they could be used freely?
- Are there guidelines published by reasonably well known figures of authority in the field about words such as these used to describe operations and messages in user interface?
- Are there any documented cases of ambiguity of such words and their real-world controversy causing bad usability for some users (other than anecdotal ones like funny stories from tech support or similar)
- What would Steve Jobs do?
I wish to provide the best possible user experience to the users of my software (as much as I can, anyway). So, if there is a cultural problem for some of the users I'd very much like to know.