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I was working in a team where one guy was born of a scottish mother (but he had grown up in Norway), and one Norwegian lady who had for thirty years been working as a top level secretary of international French companies with a high reputation. The American in the team once remarked to me that you could easily hear that Ellen is not a native English speaker: She speaks (/writes) perfect English! Robert, a (semi-)native English speaker, makes those small slips and grammatical errors "natural" for a native speaker. Not perfect, the way Ellen spoke.
Then, for the question of what is "perfect":
The team with Robert and Ellen also included an English lady, the American lady and an Australian guy - all grown up with English as their primary language. I was going to give a presentation in English, and was unsure about my choice of preposition in one of the slides, so I asked the English lady. No, no - that is not the right one, you must write ...". The Australian overheard that, but didn't accept Linda's correction, he made a different suggestion. That made the American lady stand up: Don't listen to Linda or Alex, it should be ... (unfortunately, I can't remember the different proposals). The three went into a verbal dogfight, all of insisting that the other two proposals were just wrong. The only thing they could agree on is that my first suggestion coudn't be used. I just let them fight (neither of them ever gave in), but silently selected the proposal from the English lady, as the company at that time officially did their documentation in British English.
"The problem", "the issue", "what you're seeing"...I'm always willing, in my correspondence with customers, to shift the problem on us rather than something they're doing, even if nobody else has reported anything wrong. "Your problem" just so obviously sounds condescending to me.
Good point. As a german I'd see it the same as you do. 'Your' implies that it's not the same for 'me'. Moreover, when a client reports a problem, and they have a maintenance contract, then it becomes 'our problem' too!
That said, assuming you're talking about your software, it may suffer from many problems, so you still might want to say 'your problem' in order to clarify that you're talking about the problem of the client, rather than your problem to get all those bugs fixed, or whatever
GOTOs are a bit like wire coat hangers: they tend to breed in the darkness, such that where there once were few, eventually there are many, and the program's architecture collapses beneath them. (Fran Poretto)
But, they are highly language and culture dependent. For this discussion, we certainly must (/have to) treat British and American English as distinct languages. Even within the Norwegian language, native to about 5 mill people, you see large variations among dialects. The are cases of word pairs that swaps meanings from one dialect to the other ("brød" is "bread" in one dialect, "cake" in another, while "kake" is the other way around, same with "kirsebær" and "moreller" - which is the sweet cherry, which is the sour kind). Sometimes, a single word in one dialect takes a sentence to represent in other dialects: In Trøndelag, where I live now, I could ask if you know some person, and you might answer "Æ vætt'a 'n, ja", which says "I know who he is, but I have never have any personal contact with him". In my own south Norway dialect, there is no single term (literally: "I know of him") that expresses that kind of relationship.
One of my language books has illustration of where different European languages (as determined by gallups from speakers of those languages) sets the limits between yellow and orange, red, green, blue, violet, ... The differences are surprisingly large, even within Europe (which you might think is reasonably homogenous from a cultural point of view). Another case study in the same book is personal relations: How close is a "friend"? A "buddy"? An "acquaintance"? The dictionary provides translations, but on closer inspection it turns out that, say, the Norwegian terms "venn", "kamerat" and "bekjent" cover significantly different sectors of the social scale than the Amerian terms.
When I first visited the USA as a teenager, of course I was familiar with "girlfriend"s and "boyfriend"s, and was confused when my host family referred to my buddies as my boyfriends. When I asked, they explained that the boyfriend of a girl is quite different from a boyfriend of a boy. But, I asked, what do you then call it when two boys are sweethearts? That shocked my Catholic, Midwestern host family deeply. The reaction was like Russian: We do not have such perverts in our society! It wasn't phrased exactly that way, but the meaning was the same. So I learned not to take lightly on taking words from one cultural context to another.
No argument here. Things like the partial role reversal of "horrible" and "terrible" in English and US English are what I use to highlight the problem (English "I feel terrible" = US English "I feel horrible", but the nuance is wrong if you say them in the wrong place).
The only major English/US English difference in the have to/need to/must phrases, though, is that US English tends to use "have got to" in place of "have to" more frequently, because US English has more of an emphasis on "got" being used for unwanted or negative things.
I wanna be a eunuchs developer! Pass me a bread knife!
Verbosity depens on which verbs (and nouns, and adjectives) are used. If they are of "current buzzword" kind, they could signify "professionalism".
Noone would arrest you today for using the term "agile" in statements where it could just as well have been left out. Same with "open source". Same with a lot of buzzwords. They contribute nothing to the informtion value, except telling that the author knows which are the current buzzwords.
Also, an important aspect of professionalism is precision. If you tell that "I am required to" use a given tool, then there is an explicitly stated requirement. If you tell "I must" use some tool, it could be that anything else is too slow on given hardware, that your colleagues are not familiar with other tools, that alternatives are too expensive, ... it could be anything, maybe formal and maybe not. If there is a stated requirement (from the customer, or from the management) to use a given tool, then that is essential. You can't blur it, smear it out, by reducing it to a diffuse "must".
I have to use the Azure cloud at work
I am required to use the Azure cloud at work
To me, both suggest a sense of disgust in being made/forced to use Azure against one's wishes.
Whereas "...we're using Azure cloud at work" is as neutral a statement as can be, IMNSHO...but the tone of voice used when saying this out loud would indicate what you think of that situation. That might be lost when written down, but that could be a good thing...
Anyway, I must now change "must" to "have to" or my readers will make fun of me for not understanding the English language
I certainly wouldn't worry about that, especially in this situation. Whilst it might be technically correct (I'll leave others to verify) I've not consciously ever differentiated "must" and "have to" in the way described. Someone suggests "required to" which I agree is more explicit where the requirement is from an external agency, and implies that despite the requirement it may not be the best course of action.
I despair daily of English people (born and bred) who haven't a clue about the language, even about the phrases they use. When so many people today (even older people, despite this being a recent "innovation") use "You could of done that" and similar, your standard of English appears exemplary, with or without Word's grammar checker. And don't get me started on "damp squids", "tender hooks", "fine tooth-combs" and so on...
I turn the grammar checker off in Word. Its recommendations are worthless, especially since they are inappropriate for most of the technical documentation I write.
I also tend to disable the spell check, since most of the time I'm correct and it's not. It also tends to false-positive far too many things - filenames, proper names of all kinds, program symbols, and so on.
Have you checked which version of English is driving the spelling/grammar checkers? If you're right to be blaming it on a US vs UK difference I'm wondering if you ended up with the American rules turned on by mistake. If so:
Options - Language - Office authoring languages and proofing. Change from English (United States) to English (United Kingdom).
Did you ever see history portrayed as an old man with a wise brow and pulseless heart, weighing all things in the balance of reason?
Is not rather the genius of history like an eternal, imploring maiden, full of fire, with a burning heart and flaming soul, humanly warm and humanly beautiful?
Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.
-- Sarah Hoyt
I admit that I haven't read through all of the replies so if someone else has made the same comment as I am about to make, then I apologise.
Look at almost any of the RFC for the Internet standards (sorry, memory has gone it's something like IETF). They start with a section about the use of words like SHOULD, CAN and MUST. It is a good staring point.
Re your samples
"I have to use the Azure cloud at work"
, I agree; but for
"I must work out more often"
I'd have suggested
"I ought to work out more often"
"I should work out more often"
to indicate that it is something that the general consensus is that there is pressure on you to do it but you can refuse.
There is a reason why these terms are explicitly defined (in its own RFC, if my memory is right): The terms can be understood in different ways, but in this context, this RFC, they have this meaning: ...
I have Word Professional Plus 2016. I don't know if these instructions will be similar or not for your version.
To use English (United Kingdom) instead of English (United States)
1) Open Word.
2) Click on File tab.
3) Select Options (bottom option on left menu bar).
4) Select Language (left menu bar).
5) Use drop-down list to "add additional editing language" and select "English (United Kingdom)".
6) Click Add.
7) In the Choose Editing Languages group, select English (United States).
8) Click Remove.
9) Click OK to exit.
To stop having only this particular rule checked:
1) I can't find it.
2) Just turn off grammar checking instead
Keep all things a simple as possible, but no simpler. -said someone, somewhere