Monday, February 25, 2008

Factual Errors

When they’re not making mistakes in their English, they’re getting their facts wrong.

Strangely, this writer (Sunday Times Lifestyle, 24 Feb 2008) didn’t seem to notice that the letters ‘UCL’ don’t spell ‘University of London’ (i.e. UOL):

That’s because ‘UCL’ stands for ‘University College London’ (which is a college of the UOL).

Her colleague, on the other hand, is seemingly so overwhelmed by a list of three disciplines (‘philosophy, economics, politics’) that she na├»vely assumes her interviewee, the Indian writer Vikram Seth, must have done multiple degrees (Sunday Times Lifestyle, 24 Feb 2008):

The PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) is, in fact, a single degree at Oxford.
Bad Grammar

‘Stomp editor Serene Siew said everyone could play a part in identifying and highlighting poor usage of English. She added: “It satisfies our innate curiosity to correct faux pas by well- known [sic] establishments, which are supposed to have vetted their documents and posters beforehand” (Straits Times, 30 August 2007).

Erm, isn’t the Straits Times a ‘well-known establishment’ … or are they simply exempt from having to correct their own faux pas (of which there are countless, as copiously identified and highlighted in this blog)?

Compare the following subheading (ST Life!, 3 October 2007), where the obviously well-educated sub-editor fails to understand that unwelcome (not unwelcomed) is the usual adjectival form …

… with this banner hanging outside a coffee shop in Jurong West — hardly a ‘well-known establishment’ by any stretch of the imagination — written in perfectly grammatical English by someone who knows that the correct adjectival forms are open and welcome (not opened and welcomed):

Does the ST have higher editorial standards than our Jurong West coffee shop ... and should it be publishing a guide to good English? You decide.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Curt Lion

‘A little further back. PLEASE!’

Whoa, Singa the Courtesy Lion sounds angry. REALLY angry.

To convey the request politely, please needs to be in lowercase (so as not to imply shouting or exasperation), and the full stop before it should be replaced with a comma: A little further back, please!

‘Every dish in this restaurant is either grilled, roasted or baked in a wood fire oven’ (subheading, Sunday Times Lifestyle, 10 February 2008, p. 26).

Careless sub-editor?

The correlative conjunctions either…or and neither…nor may be used with only two options, but in the above example there are three (grilled, roasted, baked).

Simply omit the word either — it serves no purpose anyway.
Numbers and Hyphens

Seen in a Gap store window.

Nineteen-Sixty Nine is wrong. Make it Nineteen Sixty-Nine.

(If we want to be really pedantic, we need a hyphen here also: 14-oz. boxes. That’s because 14-oz. is being used as a premodifying adjective: it precedes and describes the noun boxes.)