Monday, July 24, 2006

A Palpable Hit!

Location: http://weekeegeepee.blogspot.com/2006/07/hit-palpable-hit.html

CP, the GP teacher who runs weekeegeepee, has our respect. We took several swipes at his GP blog for his students, and he good naturedly acknowledged our potshots before his students. CP - would that more teachers had your integrity!

There was a comment on his blog which we feel requires a response:

yamies said...

ahh -.- they seem too caught up with hammering in perfect english into a nation who doesn't even speak the language at home. Many (i would say most) singaporeans don't speak english that much, except when they have to use it professionally. it's going to take a while for singapore to even reach a stage where english is spoken by the average person on the street more than his mother tongue.


Unfortunately, the blog only allows blog members to comment, so we are thus moved to reply here.

===

yamies - you're quite right about Singaporeans generally speaking a mother tongue more than English, and we don't hold it against them. This blog exists not to correct the average man's English. We know that to be a futile and unfair exercise. Poking fun at the efforts of those who have not had the benefit of a thorough schooling in the English language is not only unfair, it is mean-spirited and nasty. That's why we consider signs in kopitiams written by the mee rebus makcik and the char kway teow uncle to be naturally exempt. Also exempt are private blogs and materials not intended for the general public. Handwritten makeshift signs are not posted as examples of poblem engrish here, except where the mangling leads to exceptionally hilarious unintended new meanings.

What we *do* object to is bad English in print and public places, where legions of copywriters and proofreaders have been unable to notice simple errors of logic and grammar. Errors from those who ought to know better is the point of this blog. Such errors abound even in the Straits Times and are inexcusable. Any sign in a public place, professionally printed, mounted or produced to last and be a semi-permanent feature, falls within the purview of this blog. Commercials, advertisements, flyers, and other materials made for public perusal, are ergo fair game for us.

We're not at all concerned about 'hammering in perfect english' into a nation - we're cynics who point and laugh sardonically. This is an important point. We're not crusaders or fighting a cause.

7 Comments:

Blogger akikonomu said...

The GP teacher's defense is rather amusing. Shakespeare actually wrote the First Folio? Oh, the horror.

Tue Jul 25, 03:25:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger crimson said...

"generally speaking a mother tongue more than English" - unclear.

"mean-spirited and nasty" -
redundant.

"except where"
except when.

"exceptionally hilarious unintended new meanings" -
at least one of the four adjectives is redundant.

"errors from those who ought to know better is the point of this blog."
ARE. especially since you use it in the next sentence.

"Any sign in a public place, professionally printed, mounted or produced to last and be a semi-permanent feature, falls within the purview of this blog."
to last and be a semi-permanent feature - redundant. "semi-permanent" is also oxymoronic.
also compared to the next sentence - are you using the serial comma or not?? the second sentence illustrates a ludicrous usage. the first actually requires one for clarity.

"commercials, advertisements, flyers and other materials made for public perusal."
commercials are advertisements.

"crusaders or fighting a cause"
redundant.

Practise what you preach.

Tue Jul 25, 11:56:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger crimson said...

sorry, i missed the earlier segment. the lack of the hyphen was glaringly ironic given your earlier comments regarding his blog, especially when his minor issue of inconsistency is compared to your creating a word that doesn't exist - "naturedly".

"good naturedly"
hyphenation.

"There was a comment on his blog which we feel requires a response"
tense consistency.

"would that more teachers had your integrity!"
archaic.

"we are thus moved"
which sense of "moved" are you attempting to use?

Wed Jul 26, 12:02:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger Sprezzatura said...

Crimson,

Thank you for your comments! Please keep them coming - we appreciate them greatly.

> "generally speaking a mother tongue more than English" - unclear.

Conceded. 'More often' would have been a more felicitous choice.

>"mean-spirited and nasty" - redundant.

Redundancy is not an error. To repeat an idea with a different word is not only *not* incorrect, it is often a mark of evocative and poetic writing. An example of this is the familiar term 'it is meet and right'.

> "except where" except when.

Author's style, in this case. 'Except where' is correct, even if rare.

>"exceptionally hilarious unintended new meanings" - at least one of the four adjectives is redundant.

See point above about redundant adjectives. 'Glorious and majestic' occurs frequently in the BCP and Psalms.

> "errors from those who ought to know better is the point of this blog." ARE. especially since you use it in the next sentence.

IS. The subject of 'is' is 'point', not 'errors'.


> "semi-permanent" is also oxymoronic.

I suggest you check what 'semi-permanent' means. Can you say 'semi-permanent wave'?

> "commercials, advertisements, flyers and other materials made for public perusal." commercials are advertisements.

Except that 'commercials' and 'advertisements' in this way covers both print and broadcast media - some prefer to use one term for print, and another for broadcast media.


> "good naturedly" hyphenation.


Conceded.

> "There was a comment on his blog which we feel requires a response" tense consistency.

Not necessarily - no violence is done to the sense with the current choice of tenses, and the construction is akin to the Ablative Absolute in Latin.

> "would that more teachers had your integrity!" archaic.

You're talking to a man who continues to use 'fain', 'gaol' and other such words condemned by Sir Ernest Gowers as archaic. I regularly use archaic preterites, which in some academic circles are considered marks of learning. Hell, I even insist on 'shew' in place of 'show'.

'would that...' is not necessarily archaic. It is what we call the Optative Mood, and is the only way to translate Greek and Latin optatives - this should be obvious to any who have studied either language.

> "we are thus moved" which sense of "moved" are you attempting to use?

This should be quite obvious. Perhaps you might prefer 'mov├ęd'? That's even more archaic.

Wed Jul 26, 12:49:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger crimson said...

"Redundancy is not an error. To repeat an idea with a different word is not only *not* incorrect, it is often a mark of evocative and poetic writing. An example of this is the familiar term 'it is meet and right'."

True enough. It is also usually the first thing that gets edited out of newspaper writing (other than obvious spelling/grammar mistakes.) Call or deem me or my person a stylistic quibbler, but wouldn't you be mildly or slightly irritated or offended if you had to read or peruse written material or writing that appeared or presented itself in this fashion or manner incessantly, continually, or maybe, uh, all the time? Yes, I am exaggerating.

Redundancy should also be distinguished from variety (glory =/= majesty a lot more than mean-spirited =/= nasty) - and we could go on for ages about individual cases mentioned above, but I do believe I commented on cases which were more blatantly redundant as opposed to varied for the sake of style.

"I suggest you check what 'semi-permanent' means. Can you say 'semi-permanent wave'?"

"Except that 'commercials' and 'advertisements' in this way covers both print and broadcast media - some prefer to use one term for print, and another for broadcast media."

"Not necessarily - no violence is done to the sense with the current choice of tenses, and the construction is akin to the Ablative Absolute in Latin."

Fine, fine, fine :}


" "> "errors from those who ought to know better is the point of this blog." ARE. especially since you use it in the next sentence.

IS. The subject of 'is' is 'point', not 'errors'." "

Let's see - how about "Brown cows is the point of this blog." "Yellow bikinis is the point of this blog." I do see your inversion, but you do see how the unnatural placement causes confusion? I guess this is just another difference between us - clear English vs correct English.

Re: archaic - same issue. I believe we should not only strive for English that is correct by the laws laid down in rotting manuals from ages past, but for English that is clear and comprehensible to the general public. Think about the form of English you espouse, fraught by oddities and obscure rules - is it indeed completely the fault of the Singaporean population that we refuse to cleave to it as completely as you would prefer? Just a thought.

Fri Jul 28, 12:05:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger akikonomu said...

Semi-permanent: The Merriam Webster dictionary says
lasting or intended to last for a long time but not permanent

Semi-permanent is a valid word, so says the Cambridge dictionary

Fri Jul 28, 02:21:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger cp said...

No lah (don't be obtuse), nor did Milton *personally* write Paradize Lost, on account of being blind: but first editions are the closest most of us will get to either, so I live with illusion.

Mon Aug 14, 10:42:00 pm GMT+8  

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