Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spotting An Error

‘Raffles City is spotting a fashionable new look’ (full front-page advertisement, ST Life!, 26 March 2008).

Make it: Raffles City is sporting a fashionable new look.
This error may be attributed — apart from mere ignorance — to the neutralization in Singapore English of the distinction between the short and long vowels in SHOT and SHORT.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bad Teacher

Be the best teacher you can be. And don’t blame the dog!

Errors in the Papers

‘Getting in some practise’ (Today caption, 19 March 2008).

Not strictly an error, but since the word is intended as a noun and not a verb, and Today follows British spelling, it should have been spelt practice. (In American English, it is practice for both noun and verb.)

‘Still in hot soup over slapping incident’ (Today headline, 14 March 2008).

Although the phrase in hot soup is common, it is wrong. The correct expressions are either in hot water or in the soup.

‘…from aunties de-shelling prawns on buses…’ (Today, 27–28 October 2007).

What’s wrong with shelling?

‘…my successes in life (small ones albeit) were handouts’ (Today, 14 March 2008).

This monstrosity, from Mediacorp’s Deputy Editorial Director no less, is a curious error that afflicts English-educated Singaporeans with delusions of grandeur. In Standard English, albeit comes before an adjective or noun phrase. The word she was looking for was notwithstanding.

A truly awful, muddled piece of writing (Straits Times, 11 February 2008). ‘Sparks of revelation emerge as to how different societies contrast against one another’? Sounds like a Primary 4 ‘descriptive writing’ essay, unbelievably bad even for a 10-year-old. But this is a Straits Times journalist, most probably an SPH scholar.

And ... ‘I witnessed a phenomena’? Since it’s singular, it should be a phenomenon. (But, of course, we don’t expect 10-year-olds to know this.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

National Grammar Day

Today — March 4th (‘march forth!’) — is National Grammar Day. (Yes, there is such a thing!)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Speak Alien English Movement (‘Please Mind the Platform Gap’)

Have you heard the bizarre new announcements on SMRT trains recently? If you have, you’ll probably have noticed that the announcer is a Singaporean (many pronunciation features give her away) trying to speak with a posh lilt — and getting it spectacularly wrong.

Perhaps the most outlandish is her reading of the following:

Please \ mind the \ platform \ gap

This is not a recognizable intonation pattern in any accent of English. Perhaps SMRT should employ humans to do their voiceovers, not aliens?

Native speakers of English would probably say something more akin to:

Please mind the \ platform gap

Here’s one of a couple of letters which appeared several weeks ago in response to the ‘improved’ announcements:

(Straits Times Forum, 2 February 2008)

Lost in Editing?

‘Lost to Singapore?’ (headline, Sunday Times Lifestyle, 2 March 2008).

Singapore is losing local talent, as exemplified by the three Singaporeans featured on the front cover, who have built successful careers abroad.

Rather perplexingly, however, the headline says the very opposite: that they have been lost to Singapore (i.e. they left their home countries and went/came to Singapore).

It should have read ‘Singapore’s loss’ or ‘Loss to Singapore’ (i.e. the people featured represent a loss to Singapore).

How odd that our ST editors didn’t spot the mistake — even in inch-high letters. Perhaps they didn’t know the difference between lost (adjective) and loss (noun).