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.


  1. TR, I was just about to tell you about the phrase "Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo", and your reader beat me to it. I thought you are a Hokkien (from your previous mention of your wanting to use Hokkien expletives), so I thought it was a deliberate pun on your part. To be precise, "pee-khoo" is not anus, but the buttocks - the two round fleshy parts). Anus is the arsehole - and that is more appropriate noun for the gang of four. Yap-Soh-Pee-Khoo means Yap caresses someone's buttocks. I guess it is different strokes for different folks.

    1. Thanks, The! You are absolutely right, of course.