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Re: Proposed ballot for the constitutional amendment

On Tue, Oct 14, 2003 at 03:08:25AM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:

> 	Additionally, I have observed that native speakers have
>  discarded the distinction between shall and will, and never learned
>  the rules governing the different usage, so one can very seldom trust
>  the gut of the native speakers when it comes to fine points of
>  usage. Perhaps the language is evolving to the point that these
>  distinctions have become moot.

In point of fact, "native speakers" of en_US have largely discarded the
use of "shall" entirely; it is, in spoken form, a very archaic and/or
formal word, and rarely occurs outside of formal proceedings such as legal
documents (where, on the other hand, it is regularly found used in ways
which describe actions that will be forced on the subject under threat of
whatever penalties can be levied).

My impression (from regular conversations about such topics with en_GB
speakers I see on a daily basis) is that this is much less true in that
variant of the language.

In point of fact, if you ask a high school teacher in the US today, you're
likely to get the answer "It's correct usage, but will probably confuse
your audience, so it should be avoided in some situations."

The best answer, thus, is probably to remove the entire construct, since it
is easily confusing and prone to argument, and replace it with a simpler
and more easily construed one, such as "The voting mechanism cannot
currently handle encrypted ballots; if you encrypt your ballot, it will be
rejected." Ambiguity and working the brain is a good thing in literature,
and a very bad thing when writing documentation, especially technical
documentation (which is what instructions on using our voting system are,
by nature).
Joel Baker <fenton@debian.org>                                        ,''`.
Debian GNU NetBSD/i386 porter                                        : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

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