A co-worker is writing an important document. There is text which explains the diagrams, but we expect that many diagonal readers will just try to understand everything from the pictures, so we need lots of condensed information in them. So he needs really descriptive labels in the diagrams.

While his argumentation is solid, the whole thing ended with a bubble in a diagram bearing the label adapted personal value dependent user interface. To make it clear, I agree that all this information needs to be conveyed by the bubble's label. But I think that the usual rules of adjective parsing will require the reader to read it in the wrong way. The actual thing he is talking about is a user interface, which is being adapted depending on personal values. But I think that people will rather read that as (adapted (personal (value dependent (user interface)))), if they don't give up at all.

Any ideas how to reconstruct the label so it is both readable and contains all this info? Maybe a rearrangement of the words so it will be clear that we are talking about personal values and not a personal user interface? I tried Adapted personal-value-dependent user interface, but this still seems to create the wrong precedence.

  • 2
    can you give an example of "personal values", do you mean user choices i.e. personalization? Jun 15, 2011 at 10:38
  • if aiming for diagonal readers you could try to concentrate on important things; for example adapted user interface could be the label and 'influence of personal values' can be the title of the graph. in other words - did you try to minimize the complexity of the terms already by removing what is not absolutely necessary?
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:47
  • @shinynewbike No, "user values" characterize a user. Has quite a lot of psychology theory hanging behind it. The point is, we expect that an user, e.g. physician, with the value "achievement" will like to organize things and will want to see a ressource-allocation-based user interface, while a physician with the value "benevolence" will prefer a patient-centric user interface.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:21
  • @unreason, this is already the "concentrated" version; the diagram has quite a few other bubbles, and this is the only one which concerns the user interface itself. I am afraid we really need all of the information in this single label.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:23
  • @rumtscho, i see. there's another issue - although you have clarified it, the term 'personal-values' still formally falls under personalization (I understand that it is much more clever than changing color theme, but personal values need to be specified somewhere in the application as personal preferences/user configuration).
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 15:57

4 Answers 4


It seems to me that you really only need to prevent the reader from interpreting into

adapted personal value-dependent user interface


a) adapted personal-value dependent user interface, or
b) adapted personal-value dependent user-interface

Option (b) helps avoid the potential interpretation of a dependent-user interface (as opposed to a normal-user interface).

  • We went with option b) and just hope that the readers will be able to get our meaning. (They have an advantage because they have hopefully read the whole text).
    – rumtscho
    Jul 26, 2011 at 19:02


Personal-value-adapted user interface

sound better to you? (there is a bit ambiguity introduced as personal-value-adapted sounds similar to adapted personal value)

Also, you might want to go for plural in value (it is more correct):

Personal-values-adapted user interface

If you are going to talk a lot about this you might think of acronyms (e.g. "PV-adapted user interface").

  • +1. I definitely agree that it's not necessary to have both "adapted" and "dependent", since they both convey more or less the same meaning - and the more words we can remove here the better :-)
    – psmears
    Jun 15, 2011 at 15:49
  • @psmears, thanks; actually on second thought - personal-values-dependent user interface should be considered as well
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 15:53
  • Sorry, maybe I didn't provide enough information. But in fact, we have personal-values-dependent UIs and some of them are adapted (to things which are explained elsewhere in the text) and others aren't. So both have to stay. (I know, it's a monstrosity. Hard to find the proper words for things nobody else has built before).
    – rumtscho
    Jul 26, 2011 at 19:01

If I understand what you are trying to convey, I think

personal-value-dependent adapted user interface

should parse correctly for most readers: "The user interface is adapted based on personal values."


How about:

Personal-value-dependent adaptation user of interface

or try insertions of a couple short words:

User interface with adaptation dependent on personal values.

  • wouldn't that be adaptation of instead of adaption?
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:52
  • Both spellings are ok, apparently
    – Thursagen
    Jun 15, 2011 at 10:56
  • true, but even in 1828, 1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/adaption adaption was considered rare; ngrams support it ngrams.googlelabs.com/… ; my bigger complaint is that in the first sentence you should have adaptation of user interface.
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:00
  • Nice links, convinced me. Edited my answer.
    – Thursagen
    Jun 15, 2011 at 11:02
  • 1
    @Ham and Bacon, I think rumtscho meant it was at wrong place, not superfluous. (user of interface -> of user interface).
    – Unreason
    Jun 15, 2011 at 12:18

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