3

Is it correct to say:

He needs neither to store the datasets locally nor to access the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

Edit- What I mean is: He does not need to keep its data locally in general. And he does not need to access its outsourced data each time it delegates the computation.

  • @AdrianAd FYI, the use of neither / nor is fading throughout the English-speaking world. It is nearly obsolete. The way you've phrased it in your edit is much clearer, IMO, and I personally would advise you to simply document it that way. But, if you're really adamant about using nor, then one possibility is: "He does not need to store the datasets locally, nor does he need to access the outsourced [remote?] data every time it [clarify what it is here] delegates the computation". The biggest ambiguity remaining there is the identity of "it": it lacks an antecedent / referent. – Dan Bron Sep 29 '15 at 12:50
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    @DanBron Huh? neither...nor is "nearly obsolete"? Can you show some evidence for that claim? – Drew Jul 24 '16 at 16:11
1

The only problem here is not with neither ... nor per se but with the ambiguity that arises from using the modal to need with a negation. Consider the following:

  1. You need to do that!
  2. You don't need to do that!
  3. You need not to do that!
  4. You need not do that!

It's not at all logical that 4 expresses the same way of negating 1 as 2 does, and not the one from 3, to which it is structurally most similar. The reason for this inconsistency is that modals can still be negated the old-fashioned way, with not after the conjugated verb - resulting in the placement of not in the same position as when negating the infinitive that follows.

We are used to dealing with this difficulty correctly and efficiently so long as we are on familiar territory. But combining a modal with neither ... nor is relatively rare and the emerging convention here of binding the negation to the modal rather than the infinitives is illogical and perhaps not universally understood. Since the inherent negation in neither ... nor is part of a bracket that binds the two infinitives to store and to access together, it seems essentially unavoidable that some people will read the negation as negating these two infinitives (individually) rather than the modal to need. This results in the following reading of your sentence:

It is necessary that he neither stores the datasets locally nor accesses the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

To prevent this unwanted reading while still using neither ... nor for brevity, you can rephrase as follows:

He neither needs to store the datasets locally nor [does he need] to access the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

The part in brackets is optional. It makes the intent even clearer, but also makes the sentence longer and more formal-sounding. A more colloquial alternative is as follows:

He needn't store the datasets locally nor access the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

0

While 'nor' is not frequently used, I believe it to be the most clear and correct. As Dan pointed out, 'or' is certainly acceptable, and there is very little ambiguity in this sentence. Regardless, I still believe that 'nor' should be used on principal (especially in technical documentation).

0

I still prefer neither/nor over simply documenting in plain statements. Repeated use of 'he does not' doesn't appeal to readers. Also, I would like to re-frame your sentence to:-

He neither needs to store the datasets locally nor access the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

0

I would shift 'neither' upfront to improve flow and comprehension. And the 'to' is superfluous imho:

He neither needs to store the datasets locally, nor access the outsourced datasets each time they delegate the computation.

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  • This duplicates the earlier answer from aish123. – TrevorD Dec 31 '16 at 12:57

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