Sunday, 31 August 2008

Unqualified should is evil

I was recently discussing the use of the word should with my research supervisor. I detest the word because I believe that is often used very ambiguously.

To quote myself,

"It [the word should] seems sly to me. In my mind it makes the statement "I really want you to do this but I don't have the guts to say it to you directly". I do not mind the use of should when it is qualified. i.e. "you should take a shower if you don't want to stink". This way the intent is clearly stated and there is no ambiguity. If I tell you that "you should take a shower", it could mean that I think you should shower because I am hand-wavy dictator that does things because that's how I feel on the day or I just hate people that don't shower 15 times a day. The statement "you must shower now" clearly demonstrates that you are being draconian instead of being underhanded and ambiguous."

The word should is often used when someone thinks that it is the proper thing to do. The word proper implies someone else's idea of correctness. I strongly believe that people must not force their beliefs onto other people because it restricts different points of view. This sentence might seem to contradict itself because I am trying to force this belief onto you. However, I am only trying to convince you. You are free to take it or leave it. English is very ambiguous and this leads to my suspicion that it is pointless to form an argument in it.

If we look at different meanings of the word should then we find out how ambiguous it can be.



Maybe I should be doing my research instead of pronouncing my hatred of the word should (contradiction and bad pun intended).