Monday, December 22, 2008
Interestingly, the same advertisement uses a different plural form of fish on each panel: If fish could talk ..., but Guess the number of fishes.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the usual plural form is fish. However, the old-fashioned (e.g. Biblical) form, fishes, may be used to mean varieties of fish.
To illustrate: there may be 20 fish swimming towards the tank; but if there are equal numbers of salmon, trout, plaice and halibut, then there are four fishes.
Perhaps Tetra should make it clear which sense of fish/fishes they intend ... or perhaps this contest is a test of one’s knowledge of grammar rules rather than one’s counting/guessing ability?
It is the policy of this blog to avoid making fun of low-proficiency users of English because, apart from providing some mirth, their mistakes don’t actually teach us anything.
But this one is too good to pass up, because of the delicious irony: it is on an educational toy that supposedly teaches young children spelling, vocabulary and mathematics, among other things.
‘A light fixture had fallen from the ceiling at Tampines Safra last Thursday’ (The New Paper, 25 November 2008).
Wrong use of the past perfect: make it fell (simple past).
In Singapore newspapers this is a very common error, one presumably due to a misunderstanding of the notion of ‘remote past’. In Standard English, the past perfect is used when referring to the earlier of two past events, but many Singaporeans (e.g. the media, teachers, students) evidently believe that it is used with any event that took place ‘a long time ago’ (e.g. last week, seven years ago).
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
The two highlighted extracts from the New Paper (25 November 2008) illustrate the phenomenon of topic–comment in Singapore English: this is a sentence construction where the topic is mentioned, and a comment is then added to it.
In the above, the topics (all civil servants across the board, administrative officers, et al.) are marked by for. The comments begin with a pronoun referring to the topic: this is called a resumptive pronoun.
Singapore English is more topic-prominent than Standard English, where the preferred construction is simply subject + predicate: in the above instances, for and they would be deleted.