Which of the two terms should I use to indicate skilled TeX users in "official" contexts, for example, a TUGBoat article?

Here also TeXies is used, but I think this one is informal.

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    The official answer may come from the TeX book as Knuth asks what you are after you've mastered the TeX book: a TeXpert or a TeXnician. He says you would be a TeXnician or a TeXacker. So with that terms it will be a bit difficult to describe a skilled TeX user that did not master the TeX book… – TeXnician Feb 9 at 10:00
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    TeXies reminds me of Trekkies ;-) – user31729 Feb 9 at 10:00
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    TeXperts write buggy packages, TeXnicians maintain them ;-) – user31729 Feb 9 at 10:42
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    When I use a word, it means precisely what I want it to mean. – John Kormylo Feb 9 at 17:29
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    I'm wondering why downvoters never say the reason! – CarLaTeX Feb 10 at 5:46

Quote from TeXbook, chapter 1: The Name of the Game

English words like 'technology' stem from a Greek root beginning with the letters τϵχ...; and this same Greek word means art as well as technology. Hence the name TEX, which is an uppercase form of τϵχ.
       Insiders pronounce the χ of TEX as a Greek chi, not as an 'x', so that TEX rhymes with the word blecchhh. It’s the 'ch' sound in Scottish words like loch or German words like ach; it's a Spanish 'j' and a Russian 'kh'. When you say it correctly to your computer, the terminal may become slightly moist.

When you write "TeXpert", you might be tempted to pronounce the "X" not as a Greek chi but as an 'x'.

Besides this the term "TeXpert" may indicate that someone is savvy regarding the technology related to TeX. But the term does not indicate that much that there is also an aspect related to arts.

Thus the answer to exercise 1.1 of the TeXbook

After you have mastered the material in this book, what will you be: a TeXpert, or a TeXnician?


A TeXnician (underpaid); sometimes also called a TeXacker.

An answer to your question could be:

A TeXnician according to the diction of Donald E. Knuth is somebody who has mastered the material of the TeXbook.

Knuth does associate having mastered the material of the TeXbook with the term "TeXnician".

Knuth does not associate having mastered the material of the TeXbook with the term "TeXpert".

Thus with a "TeXnician" doubts about her/him having mastered the material of the TeXbook are excluded, while with "TeXperts" these doubts are not excluded.

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    “When you say it correctly to your computer, the terminal may become slightly moist.” — This is the kind of dubious geeky humor we’re all here for. – svenper Feb 9 at 12:09
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    @svenper I also like the humor in Knuth's TAOCP. E.g., somewhere in Volume 2, Arithmetic: The word “hexadecimal,” which has crept into our language even more recently, is a mixture of Greek and Latin stems; more proper terms would be “senidenary” or “sedecimal” or even “sexadecimal,” but the latter is perhaps too risque for computer programmers. – Ulrich Diez Feb 9 at 13:13
  • I wonder why this response of mine gets so many upvotes, even though it consists only of citation and rewording on the level of gossip, while people who respond to other topics and hereby deliver brilliant insights into the art of (La)TeX-programming often get less upvotes. ;-> (Besides this: My answer could be considered sort of obsolete as the gist/essence of it was already delivered in the last sentence of TeXnician's very first comment to the question. I just didn't realize that when starting typing... ;-) ) – Ulrich Diez Feb 10 at 11:18
  • Complex answers are harder to appreciate, because the recipient might not really understand them. I’m also tempted to explain it by the internet as a medium, jokes and memes, contrasting with the otherwise relatively stern tone on SX in general. (I remember when signing up, how I reacted to the rules about not even saying “hi” or “thanks” in questions.) But all manner of discourse has advantages and disadvantages I guess. – svenper Feb 10 at 17:12

The first exercise in the TeXBook is

\exercise After you have mastered the material in this book,
what will you be: a \TeX pert, or a \TeX nician?

\answer A \TeX nician (underpaid); sometimes also called
a \TeX acker.
  • I accepted the other answer because it is a little bit elaborated and because the OP has less reputation (that is my criterion when all answers are equally valid). Anyway, thank you! – CarLaTeX Feb 11 at 8:45
  • @CarLaTeX it wasn't an answer from egreg, so that's fine:-) – David Carlisle Feb 11 at 8:46
  • @CarLaTeX "because the OP has less reputation". Many thanks. At the moment, the feelings of success associated with this reputation gimmick are euphoric. ;-> By the way: What is this reputation-thingie actually good for? Is it an indicator of the duration of an account's existence and the ardor with which it is used? ;-> Anyway, it's strange: I always get the upvotes wherever in my opinion I least deserve them. ;-> – Ulrich Diez Feb 11 at 10:12
  • @UlrichDiez Upvoting behavior is very strange! – CarLaTeX Feb 11 at 10:12
  • @CarLaTeX So am I. :-) – Ulrich Diez Feb 11 at 10:13

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