Monday, April 21, 2008

More Choice/Choices

‘Video gamers get more choice with new ratings system’
(Straits Times headline, 15 April 2008).

‘More mature choices for adult gamers’
(Today headline, 15 April 2008).

Two headlines from two different newspapers, reporting the same news on the same day, but it’s interesting to note that the Straits Times prefers treating choice as uncountable (much/more choice) whereas Today favours the countable use (many/more choices).

Where the intended meaning is ‘range of options’, choice is uncountable in Standard English (more choice rather than more choices).

No doubt the adjective mature necessitates the countable use in Today’s headline, but it’s worth noting that even in the body text, Today uses choices where Standard English would prefer choice: ‘The introduction of a classification for video games — one that gives Singapore gamers more choices while allowing parents to play a protective role …’

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cut Your Hair

Grammar pedants love pouncing on the expression I’m going to cut my hair, arguing (wrongly) that this can only mean a DIY job — quite forgetting that context is as important as grammar in contributing to meaning.

For instance, in their book English in Singapore: An Introduction (McGraw-Hill, 2005) EL Low and A Brown suggest that I’m going to cut my hair ‘may sound very risky and penny-pinching to outsiders, for whom it unambiguously means that you are going to take a pair of scissors, look in the mirror and try to cut your own hair. It has an active feel to [Standard English] listeners…’ (p. 109).

No, it does not. As can been seen in the cartoon strip (in American Standard English dialogue), when the woman asks her husband, ‘Do you think I should cut my hair?’ he doesn’t wonder why she wouldn’t go to a hairdresser instead.