Microspeak: radar


The metaphoric use of the term radar is in general use. It refers to the set of things that some entity is paying attention to. (That entity being the owner of the radar.)

  • To fall off the radar is to stop attracting attention or garnering media coverage.
  • Something that flies below/under the radar is not being detected. This could be intentional (you may be trying to elude detection) or unintentional (you want to be noticed but can't get anybody to pay attention).
  • If you say that something is not on your radar, it means that it is not something you have been paying attention to.
  • To put on someone's radar is to draw someone's attention to something. If you put something on your own radar, it means that you are making an effort to pay attention to it.

At Microsoft, the metaphorical radar usually belongs to a specific person or group. You might forward an email exchange to a person or group with the message "Just wanted to make sure XYZ was on your radar." In other words, "Just wanted to make sure you were aware of XYZ." There is no requirement that the recipient take action in response to the message, but you're letting them know about XYZ, just in case they weren't already aware of it.

You can also "put something on X's radar", which means the same as in general use: To make X aware of something. Although there is no requirement that the recipient take action, the phrase is usually used when you expect that X do something. For example, "We're going to be removing support for the beta XYZ interface, and everybody needs to switch over to the RTM interface by next month. Can you put this on the radar of our partner teams?" Translation: "Can you make sure that our partner teams are aware of this? I don't want them to complain that we never warned them."

Comments (21)
  1. laonianren says:

    "It refers to the set of things that some entity is paying attention to."

    This makes me think of the Eye of Sauron.

  2. SpeakEnglish says:

    It is as evil and insidious as Sauron himself. Totally unnecessary, adds no value, clouds the communication.

  3. daves561 says:

    How has this not been turned into a verb?

  4. Mike Caron says:

    @SpeakEnglish: What about it is evil? The fact that it's a common idiom (like, "clouding" something)?

  5. kog999 says:

    @daves561

    "has John radared project X?"

    "Lets get this project radared with the application developers"

    "Sorry, i'm not sure about that i didn't have it radared"

  6. Brian_EE says:

    In the more traditional sense of the word, this past week France's BEA released the final report on AF447 crash. http://www.bea.aero/…/rapport.final.en.php

    It is interesting to note that the flight was missing from radar for over 7 hours before DETRESFA was declared. Search and rescue didn't commence until over 10 hours post-accident.

    It is clear that the protocol for which ARCC is responsible for issuing distress alerts when a plane "falls off the radar" over the Atlantic is very lacking.

  7. kog999 says:

    @mike caron

    It is not a good fit to the new paradigm of leveraging synergistic dialogue. The value proposition of “radar” is minimal.

  8. Martin says:

    @Brian_EE: Totally off topic, but there is no radar coverage over the Atlantic. Air traffic control is performed based on position reports from the aircraft sent by radio. If an aircraft becomes unreachable via radio, it is assumed that this is a "lost comms" situation (e.g. the radios on the aircraft have become inoperative), which is far more likely than a crash. SAR is initiated if the aircraft should not arrive at its flight planned destination a certain period after the planned time, which is what I'm assuming happened in this instance, though I'm not familiar with the details.

  9. Yildo says:

    @dave561: My hypothesis for why "radar" hasn't been verbed is that anglophones are bad at rolling their Rs and so avoid coining words that have rolled Rs.

    Tarring, marring, barring, and radarring?

  10. AsmGuru62 says:

    Microspeak?

    It is a common expression.

    I heard people using it and not for programming purposes.

    [Didn't I mention that in the first sentence? Microspeak is not just terms unique to Microsoft. It's terms in use at Microsoft at a higher rate than in general use. "Like" is Valspeak even though it is also in general use in the English language. (Why do I have to explain this in nearly every Microspeak entry?) -Raymond]
  11. Mark says:

    Why do you have to explain it in every entry?  Because people keep, like, forgetting about it.

  12. Brian_EE says:

    @Martin: I didn't mean radar in the strict "bounced radio waves" sense. You are correct that the "radar screen" controllers use include plane-originated position (usually from GPS). "Falling off the radar" still means disappearing from the screen.

    And not to stray much farther from Ray's intended colloquial usage, there are rules in place for the declaration of INCERFA, ALERFA, and DETRESFA that weren't followed in the AF447 accident. While that was not a survivable water collision, there have been other water landings where a timely raising of alerts could save lives.

  13. Ken Hagan says:

    @Yildo: English has no concept of a word needing to be pronounced in a certain way. If you are bad at rolling your Rs, you don't bother rolling them. It doesn't make your speech any less comprehensible.

  14. Brian_EE says:

    @Raymond: Is this something that is still in popular use? This seems to me to be a term that fell out of management use about 5-6 years ago, at least in the area of the country where I work.

  15. Gabe says:

    Since when do native English speakers roll their R's? I can't think of any English word that requires it.

  16. Thomas Winwood says:

    Gabe: it's not a feature of most English dialects, but historically a flapped allophone was a feature of Received Pronunciation between two vowels (e.g. "married").

    I believe Yildo was mistakenly using "rolled R" to mean a doubled R glyph rather than a trill or a flap.

  17. Skyborne says:

    @Yildo: IME, we Americans don't ever bother with rolled Rs.  Even my Spanish teacher would let us skip rolling our RRs if we pronounced the rest of the word correctly.  (Although he did strongly prefer Spanish pronunciation over Latin American, and likewise insisted we know 2nd-person plurals.)

    Alternate hypothesis, we all just ruined your joke :-(

  18. alegr1 says:

    [It's terms in use]

    I can't believe such a grammar nazi have just misused "it's" instead of "its".

    [Huh? I meant "it's" as in "it [Microspeak] is". -Raymond]
  19. DontReadThisMum says:

    @Gabe: we just roll joints in my country.

  20. Thomas says:

    If you are stack ranked it is of utmost importance to be on radar, isn't it?

  21. xpclient says:

    The auto sorting Explorer problem (connect.microsoft.com/…/biggest-explorer-annoyance-automatic-sorting-windows-7-server-2008-r2-and-vista) is definitely on the shell team's radar but they don't care about fixing it with a hotfix.

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