Friday, July 28, 2006

ST Forum letter

As the Straits Times operates behind a subscription firewall for articles more than 3 days old, we have to do a cut-and-paste, line-by-line frisking.

26 July 2006, Straits Times Interactive forum

Is Singapore's level of English internationally recognised?, by Stephanie Yeo Sing Ling (Ms)

An error, even in the title! "Recognised internationally" more appropriate. Visa is accepted worldwide, Web2.0 is a buzzword everywhere, we are contactable anytime at poblemengrish@gmail.com.

You can have a high level of English or a high standard of English. However, only your standard of English can be recognised internationally...

I AM a Singaporean currently pursuing higher education in Australia. If there was one word that I could describe the experience thus far, that would be 'humbled'.

"If there is one word I can use to describe the experience thus far". If you still hold the opinion of the experience even now, then you should use "is" instead of "was".

Having grown up in Singapore and nurtured by the excellent Singapore education system up to the level of a diploma, I have always felt comfortable with my ability to communicate in English. If fact, it is my main medium of communication when I am with my friends and family. Not to mention that I am really proud of our bilingual policy and to be part of a vibrant multi-racial community.

"In fact, it is..."
"... and family, not to mention that..."
Your main mediums of communication are speech, writing, or body movements. But if you're Stephanie Yeo Sing Ling (Ms), your main medium of communication is the English language. Suggestion: medium -> language

English is our first language, and according to a poll on the Channelnewsasia online forum section, we are quite confident of our English language skills.

Unhelpful. Either:
"according to a poll conducted by Channelnewsasia"
"according to a poll conducted by XYZ and cited at Channelnewsasia's online forums"
According to the poll, those who responded were confident of their skills. The poll doesn't say if their skills merit such confidence, though.

I have only been here in Sydney for a short period of five months. Understanding what the people say and getting my message across in English was all right.

"I have been here in Sydney for just five months, but..."

When I attended a seminar about the issues of Australian permanent residence application for students, I was quite surprised to know that despite English being our first language, we still require to be assessed by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

"When I attended a seminar on Australian permanent residence applications for students"
"we are still required"

Currently, there is no such requirement for Singaporeans applying for student visas. The applicant need not take the IELTS if his first language is English and his passport is from the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, United States or the Republic of Ireland.

Personally, I am most willing to be assessed to have an idea of my level of competency in the language internationally because my highest level of English assessment is the Cambridge O levels.

Competence in English is competence in English. Whether you speak or write it in Singapore or in Australia, your competence is still the same everywhere. Perhaps you mean to say you wish to have your competence in English tested by a more credibile body?

Your highest assessed level of English competence is the GCSE O Levels, administered by OCR, the Oxford Cambridge and RSA examinations board.

However, it set me into thinking if it means that we are still not on parity with at least the Australian standard; or recognised internationally?

"we are still not on par".

The English language is of economic importance and I would want my children in future to learn it well.

"I would want my child to learn it well in the future"

Stephanie Yeo Sing Ling (Ms), you fail the test of English competence, as administered by the Poblemengrish Board of Examiners. Similarly, the editor and sub-editors of the ST forum page fail to meet the basic requirements of their job.

D- to all parties!

10 Comments:

Blogger dennis said...

Ah, more fun for us grammar nazis.

--An error, even in the title! "Recognised internationally" more appropriate. Visa is accepted worldwide, Web2.0 is a buzzword everywhere, we are contactable anytime at poblemengrish@gmail.com.--

Visa is globally accepted, Web2.0 is a worldwide buzzword, we are continuously contactable at poblemengrand@gmail.com. This usage is universally accepted.

--I AM a Singaporean currently pursuing higher education in Australia. If there was one word that I could describe the experience thus far, that would be 'humbled'.

"If there is one word I can use to describe the experience thus far". If you still hold the opinion of the experience even now, then you should use "is" instead of "was".--

I'm afraid you're quite wrong on this point. Ever heard of the subjunctive mood? The sentence should properly be "If there was one word [I could use] to describe the experience thus far, it would be 'humbled'." Or, avoiding the subjunctive at the expense of naturalness, "If there is one word to describe the experience thus far, it is 'humbled'."

--Having grown up in Singapore and nurtured by the excellent Singapore education system...I am really proud of our bilingual policy and to be part of a vibrant multi-racial community.--

It should be "been nurtured" and "and being part of" for proper parallelism.

--Understanding what the people say and getting my message across in English was all right.--

Maybe nitpicky, but "said" is needed for consistency in tense.

--I was quite surprised to know that despite English being our first language, we...--

It should be "despite the fact that English is our first language" or "although English is our first language".

--Your highest assessed level of English competence is the GCSE O Levels, administered by OCR, the Oxford Cambridge and RSA examinations board.--

Really? I thought we take the GCE O Levels, and that the GCSEs aren't used here.

--However, it set me into thinking if it means that we are still not on parity with at least the Australian standard; or recognised internationally?--

Correct: "set me to thinking".

Correct: "if it means that we are still not on par with Australians in terms of English competency, or that our competency is not recognised internationally." Still a horrible construction, but it's better than misusing the semicolon; and question mark?

--"I would want my child to learn it well in the future"--

No reason to make 'children' singular.

--Stephanie Yeo Sing Ling (Ms), you fail the test of English competence, as administered by the Poblemengrish Board of Examiners.--

Who themselves also...

--D- to all parties!--

Fri Jul 28, 05:46:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger akikonomu said...

Actually, I do know about the subjunctive mood. In subjunctive mood, the sentence would actually read:
"If there were one word I can use to describe the experience thus far" - which is not what you prescribed =D

About the GCE O Levels and GCSE O Levels... I guess I'm showing my age here. Unless of course, we are both wrong, and it is now known as the Cambridge-Singapore GCE O levels - but *never* as Cambridge O Levels! In which case, D- to all of us =D

Sat Jul 29, 02:12:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger D U said...

"Internationally recognised" vs "recognised internationally" - could you elaborate on why the latter is correct, or more appropriate? I have always been under the impression that both are correct.

Sat Jul 29, 07:29:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger dennis said...

Yeah, my mistake about the subjunctive. :/ 'If there were' is right; I've seen 'was' used too much.

I'm quite sure Singapore has always used the GCEs and not the GCSEs...and we say Cambridge because that's our examining board and 'Singapore-Cambridge' is a bit of a mouthful.

Sun Jul 30, 12:42:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger akikonomu said...

Nihilist, I admit that "internationally recognised" and "recognised internationally" was a matter of stylistics.

It basically has to do with whether you like putting the adverb before or after the verb. And also, whether you feel that the existence of "internationally-recognised" as an adjective somehow becomes an anti-requisite for the use of "internationally recognised".

Mon Jul 31, 03:15:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

Dennis: Perhaps it's the French influence. Ironically for some reason, learning French messes up my sense of confidence in using not-so-straightforward conjugations in English like the subjunctive.

But I think "if there was" is correct - "were" is implying that it's contrafactual isn't it? Technically, if we're being so technical in the first place, it's not grammatically incorrect either - it depends on the emphasis. I mean, even in the narrative, we have the device of narrating actions in the present that were clearly in the past.

Wed Sep 27, 09:53:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger John Riemann Soong said...

Besides, the indicative past tense form is used for some present wishes as well. "If there was something wrong, I would know" versus "if there is something wrong, I will know".

Wed Sep 27, 08:00:00 pm GMT+8  
Blogger Sprezzatura said...

It should be 'if there were'. 'If there was' is simply bad English. There's no way around this.

Sat Mar 10, 12:26:00 pm GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you mean to say you wish to have your competence in English tested by a more credibile body?

Credible, not credibile.

I can't believe no one's spotted this yet.

Do ten push-ups and say one Hail Mary.

-EM

Sun Mar 11, 12:35:00 am GMT+8  
Blogger Poblem said...

EM - nice one! Vero, non รจ credibile!

Tue Mar 13, 01:03:00 am GMT+8  

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