Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will vs Would

The Sunday Times article (22 February 2009) on the right (click for a larger version) featured tourists who were visiting Singapore despite the current economic doom and gloom, and asked among other things whether they would visit Singapore again.
There’s an interesting contrast in the use of modals: the Sunday Times uses will in its question, but two respondents (native speakers of English from Scotland and the USA) pointedly use would in reply.
Using will for a hypothetical event is somewhat unusual — would is the better choice here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fish And Chips Is/Are?

In Standard English, fish and chips is thought of as a single dish, hence is treated as a singular noun.

Therefore, the examples above, Fish and chips are making a comeback and Fish and chips are making a splash (Sunday Times, 22 February 2009), are non-standard. Make it is in both cases.

Friday, February 20, 2009


This is a splendid example of a mondegreen: a ‘mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near-homophony, in a way that yields a new meaning to the phrase’.

For those of you youngsters out there, this is from the song All By Myself.

It is misheard as Obama’s elf through (i) vocalization/deletion of /l/ in all; (ii) smoothing of the diphthongs in by and my; and (iii) perceived linking between (Obama’)s and elf.

If the s in Obama’s had been voiced (e.g. realized as /z/), however, it would have been perfect.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Powderful Singlish

Nice examples of monophthongization of the diphthong in Coke and a not fully open front vowel in have.

I’m reliably told that this conversation was authentic, but to me it still sounds like a magnificent performance by the ‘auntie’!