Cannot be Undone (double negatives on iphone)

I just saw this image from Apple’s introduction of the new iPhone:

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From Gizmodo

Notice the wording:  I understand that this action cannot be undone or cancelled [ed: British spelling, huh].

Does that mean it can be done?  Not a huge deal but the double negative slowed me down for a second.  Not a place where there should be any confusion!  Off-topic, I just got a Palm Pre this weekend and love it!

4 thoughts on “Cannot be Undone (double negatives on iphone)”

  1. Interesting. This warning has appeared in Mac OS for years, and I have never heard anyone remark on it. Since “Undo” is a command on many Mac applications, the statement “This cannot be undone” has always seemed straightforward to me. I’d be interested to know if others have been confused by it.

    1. Yes, and humorously, after I posted this I started seeing those words EVERYWHERE (recently in Firefox). Until you mentioned it, I didn’t connect “undone” to the Undo command but that makes sense. Before I posted this item I did some cursory Googling and found this professional photographer who also had a big problem with this particular wording in Adobe Lightroom. I think he best stated my beef with the wording:

      Many of Lightroom’s pop-up panels are really ugly — I don’t mean just aesthetically, though they are, but I mean in terms of usability and common sense.

      For instance, at least one, I forget which, uses a confusing double-negative, stating that if you do a certain change it will be “not undoable.”

      Now, let’s see, what does that mean? If a change is “undoable,” does that mean it cannot be done? So then not undoable would mean it is doable. Or does “undoable” mean that once a change is done, it can be undone?

      OK, if undoable means that, i.e, that a change can be undone, then “not undoable” means that a change cannot be undone — IN PLAIN ENGLISH, IT’S “PERMANENT.”

      Although some people will get it immediately, the double-negative “not undoable” is so massively computer-geeky as to be unacceptable in a consumer application.

      1. This is interesting. The wording does make sense to me. It is a warning that if you continue what you are doing, you cannot undo it later if you change your mind. So, if you delete the file, you cannot undelete it. If you change a particular setting, you cannot click a button to go back to the original setting. It is supposed to be an indicator that you should stop and really think about what you are doing and be sure you want to do it before you continue. What wording would make more sense to you?

        “I understand that this action cannot be reversed or cancelled”
        “I understand that I cannot undo or cancel this action” This is probably better because it avoids the passive voice.

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