Sunday, March 23, 2014



Anyone who can find it in his or her heart to make fun of someone else's poverty, even if it's a private joke among friends, is most certainly a beast. There can be no quibble about that. I don't think there is any right-thinking Singaporean (unless he's a beast himself) who will deny the universally accepted fact that Jesslyn Tan is a beast.

Then who is the beauty? We all agree the victim of the beast is a wonderful, industrious and honest worker but there is another person in this whole sad episode who emerges as beautiful and virtuous. She is beautiful physically although not in the beauty pageant kind of way which is really all hype, dross and fakery where models starve themselves almost to death just to look sylph-like. But for those of us who know her, what's truly beautiful is her sincerity and kindness.

I was a little annoyed when I read in one of the alternative news media something about Indranee Rajah. This is what it says:
This after Indranee Rajah, a PAP MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, opportunistically wrote on Facebook that we must support the man wearing a holey t-shirt who was made fun of by former Miss Singapore Universe finalist, Jesslyn Tan.
Granted, this article is intended to be facetious and humorous but I've seen elsewhere the comments of people about what Indranee has done in support of the victim of Jesslyn Tan and many of them aren't at all complimentary.

Indranee spoke up for the victim. She explains that he is an honest worker and she gave the reason why his t-shirt had a hole in it, which was the subject of Jesslyn Tan's cruel insult. It's a good thing for someone like Indranee to go out of her way to defend a man who lives in her constituency. Anyone can post in his blog in support of the man but the impact won't be great. What Indranee has done is courageous and highly laudable.

I understand what many people think. Of course there are a lot of opportunistic people in any government and Singapore is no exception. Like most people, I too have my doubts about the sincerity of some people in government. But Indranee is different. I happen to know her personally as my former classmate in uni and I know how sincere she is. I know that when she spoke up for Jesslyn Tan's victim, her motives were pure and perfectly selfless and she did it out of a desire to support someone in her constituency. Nobody I know who knows Indranee personally will ever imagine that she was opportunistic in what she did.

I was initially reluctant to write this post. I'm happier talking about the errors of our English language "experts" as I have done in countless posts on this blog (and if you are interested in looking at a list of them you may click here). But then I thought how terrible it must be for Indranee to have her motives questioned not just in this facetious article but by many Singaporeans who do not know her personally but judge her unfairly. I continued to lie in bed on this hot Sunday afternoon nursing a fever (it's my tonsillitis again) and I thought to myself how horrible our society would be if every good and sincere MP says nothing in support of victims just because they don't want to be accused of being opportunistic. It does take a great deal of courage to speak up for some victim if you are in government because the default reaction of netizens is to assume that you are just being opportunistic.

I hope to see more such public support from Indranee and other MPs. Those of us who know Indranee or have met her even fleetingly will not doubt her sincerity and those who do not know her at all should be more charitable in their blind judgment. Let's not excoriate the beauty with the beast.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Matter of Degree

It's a rainy evening and I thought I should play my game of chance again. My hand reached out for one of the two disgraceful books and it landed on  ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 which we are told were written by a bunch of unknowns Khoo Li Ying, Stephanie Pee, Sylvy Soh and Aloysius Yap or the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang, as I called them in a previous post. I flipped to a page and allowed my hand to rest on the right side of the book and it's page 29. Now, do we have a mistake on page 29 or do I have to admit that there is at least a page in the two books that does not contain some laughable error?

My readers who have been following my recent blog posts will know that I have made a bold claim that both ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN and ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 are the most outrageously flawed books that have ever been written on this planet on the subject of English grammar and it would be almost impossible for a reader to show me a single page in either book that does not contain some egregious blunder in English grammar or usage. And so far, I have not been shown to be wrong.

I've just looked at page 29 and the blunderheads who gave the answer obviously don't know what "much" means.

This is what they wrote. Before I go on, I should explain that both ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN and ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 are written in a question-and-answer format. Newspaper readers ask questions on the English language and the panel of English experts (as they style themselves) from either the Ministry of Education or the Speak Good English Movement provide the answers. Here's the question on page 29 followed by the experts' answer. Since this is taken from ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 the answer is provided by the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang.

I've just been told by a reader that calling the quartet the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang sounds obscene in the Northern Chinese dialect because "pee khoo" means anus. But the answer that they give to the question on page 29 of their book (which is characteristic of all the answers they have given in the entire book) is really no different from excreta that should rightly be discharged from one's anal orifice and so although I had no idea that "pee khoo" meant anus when I first wrote it I can now see how apt the name is and I wouldn't for the world refer to the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang by any other name. I might even shorten the name to just the Pee-Khoo gang but that won't be fair to the other two language "experts".

The word "much" given in the example is not redundant. Anyone who has a passing acquaintance with the English language should know that. There is a difference in degree between "This oven is much cheaper than that" and "This oven is cheaper than that" and even a child of five should know this. And the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang doesn't know this.

You be the judge and tell me if the answer they give is, as I have said, no different from what naturally comes out of the pee khoo.

If you would like to have a look at a growing list of all the errors made by Singapore's language experts and others too, please click here. The list is always growing as I add to it whenever I write a new post on the subject.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Confusion over Concord

Reliable historians tell us that when Monsieur Guillotin invented the famous beheading device, he had in mind muttonheaded ninnies such as the writers of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN who have the gall to call themselves language experts when they probably can't even spell "grammar". I have shown about a few hundred thousand errors in their disgraceful books ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN and ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 in my previous blog posts and if you are interested in having a look at a growing list of them (I update the list every time I post something new on the subject), please click here.

That the writers of the disgraceful books are a bunch of knuckleheaded blunderheads is a truth that I have established beyond the shadow of a doubt. They do not seem able to get even the simplest of grammar rules correct and they have the audacity to call themselves English language specialists and to write not one but two books on English grammar. Although I'm the last person on this planet to scoff at anyone, my attentive readers will notice that I have sometimes allowed my characteristic high level of courtesy to dip a little when mention is made of this group of village idiots.

I have nothing against village idiots who keep their idiocy to themselves. But when an idiot tells the world he's a language expert and writes books on grammar, I will have to put him in his place.

I've just done my blind test again. I allowed my fingers to pick up one of the two books written by Singapore's language "experts" and this time, I got the first book. I flipped the pages and by chance, I was at page 158. Looking into both books to find grammatical errors is like looking into a Spanish treasure chest for gold ingots. They're everywhere and on every page. I was pretty sure I'd be able to find some error on this page and and I was right. Here it is. The A or Answer is supplied by the English language experts from the the Ministry of Education (MOE).

To be fair to the English language experts from the MOE, this is one error most language teachers in Singapore make. I'm of course speaking from my own experience with language teachers from my kids' primary schools. But I expect more from MOE's language experts and I cannot accept such an error made in a book that has been re-printed at least ten times and has the full endorsement of the MOE and the Speak Good English Movement. Grammatical concord is easy in that you have a 50% chance of getting it right. It's either a plural verb or a singular one. It is as outrageous for a language expert to get it wrong as it is for a surgeon to cut off the wrong breast in a mastectomy.

One of the mistakes I made when my kids were in primary school was to enrol them in private schools for additional lessons. I did that only because every parent I knew enrolled their kids in private schools after normal school lessons. It may only be an hour or two each week but that's still precious time which could be put to better use if we parents conducted our own lessons for our kids. Of course I later pulled them out of the private school and spent a bit of time each week teaching them grammar and I achieved more in an hour what any school could do in a year. At least I don't make egregious blunders.

One day, my child showed me a question in a test paper in which he was marked wrong. It was a sentence similar to this sentence and he wrote the plural verb and his teacher said it was wrong. I wrote a note to his teacher and cited three references from renowned grammarians and told my child to give it to his teacher. The following week, I got a phone call from the teacher. She was a pleasant woman and she agreed with what I said. However, she said the other teachers in the school still insisted that the plural verb was wrong. She also sent me an email and I replied to her email by writing at great length, thanking her for teaching my child and saying all the pleasant things we normally say to others and I included in my email this paragraph.

What happened after that was entirely her fault. She printed my email and all the references I had quoted and approached her head of department. When he saw that paragraph in my email, he hit the roof. He accused her of not being a good "team player" because he insisted it was wrong of her to tell a student's parent that the other teachers didn't agree with a point of grammar even after they were shown references in support of it. He probably thought the worst of me too and that is one reason why I don't like to tell someone he is wrong. Some people react very badly when they are told they are grammatically wrong. I wrote about this a long time ago in this post and I think I told the story about a friend in my hostel who refused thereafter to talk to me throughout the duration of our stay.

I am not slamming teachers in private schools or the teachers in our schools employed by the MOE. They are all wonderful people who work very hard and they truly want the best for their students. But MOE's language experts are different. If they can't even sort out their own grammatical problems, they should have the decency not to accept any remuneration from the MOE as language experts. And they certainly should not have the effrontery to write a book on grammar and usage.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

English Matters!

I only started on my language crusade after I stumbled upon ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN, the incredibly flawed grammar book of the Speak Good English Movement which I've written about ad nauseam in my recent posts.  Before I even knew of the existence of this horrid book which is Singapore's undisputed linguistic debacle, I hardly bothered one bit about grammar and usage. It was only after I looked at the book and its sequel, ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 that I became aware of the extent of the incompetence and ignorance of Singapore's top language teachers who have the endorsement of both the Ministry of Education and the Speak Good English Movement. From my observation, Singaporeans generally speak very good English. The language experts are the ones who are clueless about the most basic rules of English grammar.

If you are interested in looking at my growing list of the errors made by Singapore's language experts and others click here. I add to that list every time I write a new blog post on the subject.

I saw in my letter box this evening a colourful pamphlet from a school called Mind Matters.
Now, I didn't exactly pay attention to the pamphlet and I merely cast an idle eye over the section "English Matters!" which is the school's English language programme. The pamphlet highlights what the school teaches to help students acquire composition skills. If you are interested, I have a zoomed up version on the left but I wouldn't bother to read it if I were you. It's still a bit of a strain on the eye.  I'll just tell you briefly what it's all about. The programme teaches students how to start off an essay with an attention-grabbing introduction. One method is for the narrator to recall an incident in the past - the use of a flashback. That's of course not of concern to us here. But what is really interesting is the example given by the school of how a student may start his story with the use of a flashback. As I have said, I was merely reading the pamphlet mindlessly but when I read the one-sentence example given, the same horror that I felt when I first read ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN seized me once again. Let me blow up that sentence:

Now, this is a sentence which is meant to start the story and its main purpose is to whet the reader's appetite for more. But Mind Matters has succeeded in that one sentence to pack more grammatical mistakes than even the writers of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN can possibly achieve in a single sentence. There are three errors in that one sentence. The error in the tense is an error almost all language teachers in Singapore make and that is my unshakeable belief after having made countless trips to school when my kids were very young. Many English language teachers in Singapore are never sure when they should use the present tense, the past tense, the present perfective and the past perfective. For them, it's really a game of Russian roulette and as I used to tell my kids, their teachers are all universally dense on the tense. So, it will be unfair if I pick on that error. But there are still two other glaring errors.

One of them is rather obvious even to a child of eight. It should be "...the day when..." and not where.

The other error is also pretty obvious.  Any school-going kid in Singapore and anyone who speaks and writes British English can tell that the preposition in the first sub clause is wrong. Burchfield writes that even though it has a long history (since the mid-13th century) and Shakespeare used it too, "at the present time it is non-standard in the UK".  What's non-standard in the UK is non-standard in school exams in Singapore and let's not pretend we are unaware of this.

Such a construction is only acceptable in Singapore if you are singing this song and it only works if you have Randy Vanwarmer's voice.

If the youtube link doesn't work, please click here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang on the English language

I've been asked what personal grievance I have against the Speak Good English Movement, the language experts from the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the other writers of the appalling grammar book ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN. I have nothing personal against them for I do not know the language experts from the MOE and the other writers of the deeply flawed grammar book from Adam and if you have followed my blog from the very start, I have nothing but praise for the MOE which is instrumental in placing Singapore on the top of the world's chart on education. As for the Speak Good English Movement, I've always thought of it as a bit of a clown from its very start but I have no strong feelings against it.

I only went on a rampage (which is how my children humorously describe the occasional criticism I make of Singapore's ignorant English language experts) after I discovered the extent of these experts' ignorance of basic English grammar. Those who would like to see a list of all my recent criticisms of these experts may click here (see under para 1 A of the list). It all started in May last year when I saw an article in the newspaper about the Speak Good English Movement that prompted me to write this article in my blog. Months after that, an ad by the Movement led me to look at the work of the Speak Good English Movement more carefully. Their website was undergoing maintenance as it still is today. I just checked and here's the screen capture.

But I found archived in the website of the National Library a treasure trove of all the ludicrous errors made in a newspaper series contributed by the Movement and the MOE called "ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN". Two books were published from this and they were touted to be excellent resources on English grammar for Singaporeans. The then President of the Speak Good English Movement wrote the Preface to the book. ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN and ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 are the work of both the Speak Good English Movement and the MOE although the latter seems to have distanced itself upon the publication of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2. It may very well be that while the first book saw "English language specialists" from the MOE giving the answers to questions posed by newspaper readers, the English language panel for the second book consists of named but unknown individuals - Khoo Li Ying, Stephanie Pee, Sylvy Soh and Aloysius Yap - who were probably not be in the MOE's employ. I'll refer to the writers of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 collectively as the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang.

I bought both books last month and you won't believe how outrageously flawed every page is until you have gone through the books yourself. I have come across rotten grammar books in my time including a horrendous book on English which I found in a book shop in Kyongju written by a Korean writer for Koreans who, by and large, don't speak a word of English but even that book pales by comparison with these two books when I'm looking for the worst possible book on English.  I've been asked many times which of the two books is worse. Book No. 1 or Book No. 2?

But those who have read my posts (please see the list given in the first link above or if you're lazy, you may just click here) will know that it's very hard for me to decide which book is more rotten of the two. They are like two very badly rotten eggs jostling to see which wins the Most Stinking Egg Contest; they both beat all other rotten eggs flat but it's hard for a judge to decide which of the two exudes a more noisome stench.

What truly astounds me is the fact that any human being with some basic knowledge of English grammar can be as wrong as the English language panel in both books. I am not just talking about the difficult areas of English grammar; the experts in both books are clueless about even elementary grammar rules that children in primary schools in Singapore are well aware of. I have given many examples in my earlier posts (see my list in the link above).

I've been asked whether I exaggerate when I say that almost every page of both books contains shocking errors. I have not exaggerated one bit. Almost every page contains some error that makes it perfectly justifiable for me to publicly denounce the English language panel as a bunch of ignoramuses who have shamelessly and wrongly claimed for themselves the right to teach Singaporeans English grammar and usage when they really ought to go back to primary school to learn the rudiments of English grammar. I have shown enough instances in my earlier blog posts to substantiate my claim.

I just looked at ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 this evening and I decided to confine myself to merely the first page. You would have thought that surely there can't be errors even on the first page? Surely any decent writer would make sure that the first page is at least correct? There are only two questions on the first page and I'll examine the answers to these two questions and see if there is at least an incorrect answer. The answers in this book are written by the named quartet - the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang.

Here's the first question followed by the answer.

This answer is a dead giveaway that the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang aren't at home with the English language. Elsewhere in the book, they have shown a total lack of understanding of grammatical concord and they fumble when they see plural and singular nouns in a sentence. They have a tendency of resorting to some fixed mathematical rule (of their own concoction) which really isn't what English grammar is about. See this and this.  There are many other examples in the list I've given of my past posts. But grammatical concord is not the only thing they know nothing about. Almost every aspect of grammar is alien to them. I have millions of examples, many of which I have not written in my blog yet.

Let's look at the second question that the hapless newspaper reader asks. Asking the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang a point of grammar and usage is like getting a witchdoctor to remove a tumour from your brain.

Wow!  "We are out to lunch" is incorrect according to the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang. This is such a stupid answer I don't think I need to tell my readers why they are so wrong.

I'll just give a few examples from a couple of dictionaries. My Cambridge Dictionary gives this example:
I'm sorry, Ms Wilson isn't here at the moment, she's out to lunch.
In another dictionary, the definition of the verb lunch is given as
(verb intransitive) to eat lunch; (verb transitive) to provide (somebody) with lunch or take (them) out to lunch.
"Out to lunch" is such a common expression that it's taken on a new meaning informally especially in conversation. You can say of someone who isn't paying attention or isn't doing her work or is behaving strangely in the office that she's out to lunch. It's as if she's not in the office but eating lunch elsewhere. When it comes to giving correct answers on grammar, the writers of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN are always out to lunch. There are only two questions on the first page and both their answers are wrong. Now, you know I wasn't exaggerating.

[EDITED ON 3 APR 2014 AT 6:50PM]:

As you know, I do try to be fair to the writers of these two execrably flawed books ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN and ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 and I've just noticed that in Book 1, a reader asks the same question whether "go out for lunch" and "go out to lunch" are acceptable. The language specialists from the Ministry of Education (MOE) who are the ones who supplied the answers to questions in Book 1 say "Both are fine" on page 58 of the book. Although the MOE's language specialists are just as bad and clueless about English grammar as the Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo gang, I want to be fair to them on the very rare occasion when they are correct.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ultra CRAP!

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I've been excoriating the language experts of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Speak Good English Movement in Singapore for their unpardonable ignorance of even the most basic English grammar rules. There is nothing more dishonourable than for an ignoramus to arrogate to himself the authority to teach others a subject that he knows absolutely nothing about.

Pliny the Elder tells the story of Apelles of Kos, a legendary painter, whose painting was once criticised by a cobbler who pointed out that the sandals in the painting were defective. The renowned painter corrected the error in his painting but the cobbler proceeded to point out other parts in the painting which he felt should be corrected, to which Apelles remarked, "Sutor, ne ultra crepidam" or "Cobbler, not beyond the last". The cobbler was told to venture no further than the last of the sandal which is where his expertise lay. He should not go into areas he knew nothing about.

It's from this that we get the English word ultracrepidarian which means a critic who is ignorant and presumptuous. The writers of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN are all ultracrepidarians even though they shamelessly consider themselves English language experts. If the word is too long, you can always call these experts "ultra-CRAP" which is precisely what they are; not just ordinary turds but the ultra-excremental variety and they must be if they can't even get simple points of grammar right.

You can pick any page of either ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN or ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 and I assure you you'll see something shockingly wrong. I've just allowed my fingers to touch one of the two books and it's ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 and I picked a page at random and it's page 77 and sure enough there is a shocking error there. Here's a pic of it and you decide for yourself if the "expert" who gave the answer to the question is indeed ultra-crap.

From the answer given above I'm able to say a few things about the language "expert" who wrote this.

First, the English language must be as alien to him or her as Swahili is to me. Anyone who has some knowledge of the English language however rudimentary it may be cannot possibly make such an egregious blunder.  Next, only an ultra-Crap can be so ignorant of a subject and yet be so brazen as to hold himself out as an expert and I don't think anyone will disagree with me when I say that the writer of this passage fits the definition of an ultracrepidarian to a T.

I have been informed that no Primary school pupil will make the kind of mistake the language expert has made. This is so basic that all Singaporean pupils in Primary 3 must know this in order to be promoted to Primary 4.  How can the MOE be so misled as to hire language experts who don't even know a basic grammar rule that every nine-year-old in Singapore knows?

The rule in indirect speech is the opposite of what the "expert" says. The present tense in direct speech is often backshifted to the past in indirect speech when the time reference of the original utterance no longer applies at the time that the utterance is reported. I'll give an example from A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Section 14.31 at page 1027):
'I am being paid by the hour,' she said.
She said she was being paid by the hour.
The example our disgraceful language expert gives is a stupid example because it doesn't illustrate anything and it only serves to convince the reader that the "expert" knows nothing about grammar. What he gives in the example is a to-infinitive and only a nitwit with a bad concussion will give such a dumb example. In "He told me to go to bed" go will always not be in the past tense because it's an infinitive. Any child of ten can tell you that.

Let's alter the dunderhead's stupid example and we can see how moronic he is:
He said, "Go to bed after you have said your prayers."

Of course there are always exceptions but as a rule, the indirect speech will have to be
He told me to go to bed after I had said my prayers.
The present perfective is backshifted to the past perfective.  As I have said, as in anything in English grammar and usage, of course, there are exceptions. If I haven't gone to bed yet and my mum asks me what the man just said to me, my reply would be "He told me to go to bed after I have said my prayers." But this is not what our dumb expert writes. As you can see from the excerpt I posted above, he or she says, incorrectly of course, "As you are reporting what the person told you, the tense does not change for the reported part of the speech." I still can't get over the fact that anyone can make such a stupid statement. You can't get more wrong than that. I used to have a pet parrot called Polly who knew better than our language expert. She would always say, "He said I was a bad bird". The MOE should dismiss their panel of birdbrained language experts and keep half a dozen parrots which I'm sure won't be so featherbrained as to make such an outrageous blunder.

If you are interested in seeing thousands of other errors Singapore's English language experts have made, click here. Please note that the list will be updated every time I publish a fresh post in my blog on the subject.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

MOE's Language Experts Need Voice Training

Anyone who has read that disgraceful book ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN by the MOE's panel of English language experts cannot help but see that these experts are so ignorant of the rudiments of English grammar that they sometimes fail to answer a question from the public but they think they have given an answer simply because they don't even understand the question. Can you believe that? They have such a poor understanding of simple English that they can't even fully grasp the question that is put to them in order to give an answer. I'll give you a stark example of this below.

First, it's important to remind my readers that the book is in a question-and-answer format. Newspaper readers send their questions on English grammar to the newspaper editor and the MOE's English specialists write their answers.

Here's a question from a reader. The reader asks two questions but let's just look at the first question asked. What he wants to know is which of these two is correct: "This is subjected to..." or "This is subject to...".  Be amazed at what the language experts from the MOE have to say!

Let's rephrase the question asked. What's the difference, if any, between "This is subject to..." and "This is subjected to..."? The experts begin by stating that the difference is very subtle. And they proceed to explain the difference.  They give an example of how "This is subjected to" can be used. They talk about people who are "subjected to" some rules.

In the next sentence, the experts proceed to explain what "This is subject to..." means but they fail miserably. The reason for their failure is they do not understand what in grammar is called the voice. Yes, you probably now understand the reason for the facetious title of this post.

What the language experts don't realize is the second sentence explains the same thing as the first sentence. In the first sentence, they write, "If people are subjected to the rules...", they are using the passive voice to explain the question asked by the reader.  The reader asks what "This is subjected to..." means. That's the passive voice.  As far as the first sentence goes, it's ok. But the second sentence is just a repeat of the first.  They write, "If you subject someone to something". That's the active voice.  But it means the same thing as "If someone is subjected to something" which is the passive voice.

In other words, the experts have not even begun to talk about "This is subject to..." at all.  They have only dealt with "This is subjected to..." in both the passive and active voices which is not what the question is about. But the experts think they have addressed "This is subject to..." when they write "If you subject someone to something..." simply because they can't tell an active voice from a passive one.

Now, this is a very serious error because it's an error that's caused by the experts' total ignorance of the voice in grammar. How can such duffers be looked upon as English language experts by the MOE? After stating that the difference between "This is subjected to..." and "This is subject to..." is very subtle, they proceed to talk about "This is subjected to..." in both the passive and active voices and totally ignore "This is subject to..." because evidently, they are labouring under the mistaken notion that the active voice ("If you subject someone to something...") is the same as "This is subject to...", presumably because the word "subject" is used in both sentences (as opposed to "subjected").

An English language teacher who makes such an error ought to be disciplined and seriously considered for dismissal. A language expert who makes this error ought to be sent to the gallows!

You want more? Sure! I have a lot more for you.

There are millions of errors in the MOE's grammar book ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN. If you would like a list of the links in my blog that deal with this same subject, please click here. It's a growing list and every fresh post that I write on the subject is added to this list which is divided neatly into different categories.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Blind Leading the Blind

I have said many times that the two grammar books written by English language experts from the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore are hilarious in that you can't go through a single page without noticing some glaring error that even a ten-year-old wouldn't make. Sometimes I don't find it all that funny. It's incredibly sad that the language experts from the MOE can be so ill-qualified, ignorant and incompetent in a subject which they claim to have expertise in. I feel sorry for the poor students who really want to learn good English grammar and is it really wrong of them to rely on experts from the Ministry? After all, the MOE employs all teachers in Singapore. If their language experts are so blatantly clueless about basic grammar, what guarantee do students have that their teachers who aren't even considered language experts by the MOE can get anything right?

I've said in previous posts in this blog (click here if you want a list of my previous posts in this blog on this matter) that one classical method employed by the MOE's English language experts is to go where the wind blows them. If a reader tells them they are wrong, they will change their opinion instantly and try to accommodate the view of the reader (never mind the fact that the reader knows nothing about the language or quotes from an unreliable book).

Here's a pic I took from page 2 of ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN written by the MOE's "panel of English language specialists", as the Acknowledgement page tells us. Yes, you don't have to go very far to spot a language mistake made by the experts. It's there on page 2 and just about every page thereafter.

The book uses a question-and-answer format. Newspaper readers ask questions on English grammar and usage and the experts give their answers. Sometimes, readers are not satisfied with the answer and they write in again on the same subject. This will be placed in an inset titled "YOUR SAY" and this is sometimes followed by the reply from the experts, also in an inset and titled "THE EXPERTS REPLY".

Here's a question from a reader who, like many people I know, has a great deal more confidence than knowledge. His question is more a cocksure statement of what he thinks is a legitimate usage rule. Faced with such overweening certainty, the MOE's panel of experts, as they have done in many other such instances, agree with the reader.

Not only do the experts agree with this mistaken reader, they venture to suggest that "pressurize" refers to atmospheric pressure and should not be used to mean "coerce" or "persuade".  This is clearly a case of the blind leading the blind. Next, comes a third blind man, a reader who claims to have been guided by a book that none of us has heard of and neither has, I daresay, any renowned grammarian.

Now, as I have shown from other examples in the book, the moment a reader claims to have the backing of some book (whatever the book may be and it doesn't even matter if the reader has misquoted the book), experts from the MOE will back down. Look at their reply.

So swiftly have they forgotten what they wrote a moment earlier, that "pressurize" should only refer to atmospheric pressure.

Here's a clear case of the blind leading the blind leading the blind. The reality is all of them including the language experts know nothing about English grammar and usage.

For a list of my blog posts on grammar terrorists, click here. Please note that this list of grammar terrorists will be updated every time I publish a fresh post in my blog on the subject.