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I wrote the following as part of an article in the making:

Diverse fields such as medicine, sociology, and marketing require the collection, analysis, and publication of large amounts of personal data. At some stage during this process it becomes imperative, for the protection of individual privacy, that such data be sanitized to remove information that could potentially identify some set of personal data as belonging to a certain individual.

Is "becomes imperative ... that such data be sanitized" good style? Is the above OK, in general?

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I responded at first to suggest an alternative, but I read your sentence too hastily. Yours is fine as it stands. If you already read my answer, please disregard it. –  Robusto Feb 1 '11 at 23:11
    
@Robusto: You should make that an actual answer so it can be up-voted. :) –  Shaun Feb 1 '11 at 23:13
    
@Shaun: OK, done. :) My main concern was that I didn't want him to puzzle over my unnecessary correction. –  Robusto Feb 1 '11 at 23:16
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3 Answers 3

I responded at first to suggest an alternative, but I read your sentence too hastily. Yours is fine as it stands. If you already read my other answer, please disregard it.

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Thank you. I did read your first answer once, but I have forgotten what it was, so no harm done :) . –  gphilip Feb 2 '11 at 6:53
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Imperative is an adjective that means of vital importance, crucial; the sentence containing imperative can be written as

At some stage during this process it becomes crucial, for the protection of individual privacy, that such data be sanitized to remove information that could potentially identify some set of personal data as belonging to a certain individual.

To reply to your question, it is good style.

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Thank you. –  gphilip Feb 2 '11 at 6:53
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Imperative implies an imperator, which is contradicted by the passive construction of data be sanitized. Perhaps you should substitute privacy laws and ethics require the researcher to sanitize […].

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Didn't downvote, but I disagree. His use is consistent with my personal conversational experience. That said, do you have a citation for the necessity of an imperator? I'm interested to see if my experience thus far includes incorrect uses. –  Andy Feb 2 '11 at 6:27
    
@Malvolio : I didn't downvote either, and would be interested in a reference just like @Andy. Thank you. –  gphilip Feb 2 '11 at 6:54
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@Andy: "imperative" implies an imperator is false; imperative means of vital importance or crucial, but it doesn't mean of vital importance for an imperator. If you are looking for the adjective that means of the imperator or of an imperator, then you are looking for imperatorial. In most of the cases, you would use imperator, as in this is the imperator's sword. –  kiamlaluno Feb 2 '11 at 6:58
    
@kiamlaluno: That's basically what I thought, which is why I was wondering if he had a citation. Thanks for helping clear it up. –  Andy Feb 2 '11 at 6:59
    
@Andy: The definition I used in my answer is taken from the New Oxford American Dictionary. I am sure other dictionaries report a similar definition of imperative. As a side note, imperative has an equivalent in Italian (imperativo), which is also used in phrases like imperativo categorico. –  kiamlaluno Feb 2 '11 at 7:03
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