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some confusion in respect of 'may'

English translation: it can happen

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17:54 Nov 26, 2006
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Other
English term or phrase: some confusion in respect of 'may'
Officers, Human Resources staff and lawyers (including those in the operating units) may provide support to the Compliance Officers in these activities or carry out some of these functions on their behalf.

I am proofreading a document in which 'may' above has been translated in the sense of 'will'. I have some doubt and that is why I am asking this question.

Could you inform me what exactly 'may' means here? Does it mean'will'. Does it mean that it not obligatory for them to provide support and they may do so if they want?
xxxSanjiv Sadan
Local time: 11:36
English translation:it can happen
Explanation:
IMO, in this context it means that the compliance officers may be assisted by these other parties, and/or these other parties may perform some of the tasks of the compliance officers, but this does not happen in every case -- i.e. it is an optional means to perform the tasks, to be used on a case by case basis. It means that the compliance officers do not always or not do necessarily do everything themselves.

It doesn't say anything about whether this assistance is voluntary or at the discretion of these parties, although in fact they would not do this on thier own initiative, but instead in response to a specific request or instruction (there would probably be a clause such as 'assists Compliance Officer(s) in xxx when so requested or instructed' in their job descriptions). However, this is beside the point here.
Selected response from:

Ken Cox
Local time: 08:06
Grading comment
Thanks
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +6it can happen
Ken Cox
4 +2permitted to
David Moore
5 +1will possibly
Michael Barnett


  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +6
it can happen


Explanation:
IMO, in this context it means that the compliance officers may be assisted by these other parties, and/or these other parties may perform some of the tasks of the compliance officers, but this does not happen in every case -- i.e. it is an optional means to perform the tasks, to be used on a case by case basis. It means that the compliance officers do not always or not do necessarily do everything themselves.

It doesn't say anything about whether this assistance is voluntary or at the discretion of these parties, although in fact they would not do this on thier own initiative, but instead in response to a specific request or instruction (there would probably be a clause such as 'assists Compliance Officer(s) in xxx when so requested or instructed' in their job descriptions). However, this is beside the point here.

Ken Cox
Local time: 08:06
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 56
Grading comment
Thanks

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Dave Calderhead
14 mins

agree  David Knowles
28 mins

agree  Will Matter: They will occasionally provide assistance, on an 'as needed' basis.
52 mins

agree  Erich Ekoputra: In compliance context, assistance is near-obligatory, else we can be deemed as non-complying. It has dire conseqcs, like revocation of certif, even formal investigation request.
9 hrs

agree  Yavor Dimitrov: as per some grammarians, MAY in cases like this expresses more than 50% probability.
1 day 47 mins

agree  xxxAlfa Trans
1 day 1 hr
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25 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
will possibly


Explanation:
In this context, "may" means that the assistance will be provided at the discretion of the staff. The use of the word "will" without the modifier "possibly" would imply that the assistance would ALWAYS be provided.

Michael Barnett
Local time: 02:06
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 32

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Will Matter: They may, they might, they're available.
42 mins
  -> Thanks Will!

neutral  Erich Ekoputra: IMO, in compliance context, assistance isnt at the discretion of audited parties (HR, lawyers, etc.). It's obligatory; i.e., when Comp Officer asks something, they must provide; else, there is dire consequence of non-comp, eg revocation of ISO certifcate.
9 hrs
  -> But what if the lawyer isn't feeling well that day? The source says that they "may" provide assistance, not that they "will", "must", "have to" or are obliged to do so.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
permitted to


Explanation:
Doesn't it depend on what the writer intended!!!!

It can just as well mean "(...staff) are permitted to....."
as this is also a perfectly legitimate use of the word "may".

So it is really impossible for anyone here to be certain, except that "may" does NOT mean "will" in the sense you describe - nor in the sense that it will be part of their duties so to do.

David Moore
Local time: 08:06
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 53

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RHELLER: this is my understanding; due to the complicated field of compliance, not everyone can fulfill these tasks, only certain are allowed to
29 mins

agree  Lesley Clayton: My understanding too
14 hrs
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