Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are you scared of teachers who can ruin you?

I recall hearing a child with a cherubic face telling his parents, "I'm scared of the dark". He was about 5 years old and his parents wanted to take him on one of the rides in Disney and unlike other kids his age, he didn't seem thrilled. But let's look at what he said:
I'm scared of the dark.
That's a common enough sentence anywhere in the world where English is spoken. But the Speak Good English Movement will have you believe that such a sentence is WRONG. That is what they say in their newly compiled list of common errors called  "LIST OF COMMON ENGLISH ERRORS IN EVERYDAY SITUATIONS" which appears on their recently revamped website.

In my previous post, I showed that the Movement was wrong to say that the first item in their "list of common errors" was an error. I went on to assert that the Movement made numerous other errors in that list alone. I have, in this article, picked the most glaring mistake on the part of the Movement. It's such a common word used in such a common way that even a bonobo with an advanced brain disease must know that there is nothing wrong with it and yet Singapore's Speak Good English Movement declares it to be a common English error.

This is what they say on their website:

I am sure I will go to my grave wondering what possessed the Speak Good English Movement to utter such nonsense. I always try to see if I can unearth the reason for a teacher's error especially when the error is wildly lunatic as this undoubtedly is. Everyone in Singapore, from a toddler to the scholarly genius in our top university, must surely know that "scared" when used in the sentence "I am scared of the dark" is perfectly correct. How on earth can anyone make such a ludicrous mistake and say that it is wrong?

To the Movement, "as the dark scares me" is acceptable but not "I am scared of the dark". They accept as correct "I am afraid of the dark". Obviously, the Speak Good English Movement of Singapore is only familiar with the word "scare" used as a verb. Because of their unbelievably poor grasp of the English language and their astonishingly limited vocabulary, they are unaware that the word "scared" is also an adjective and has been so since the late 16th century.

On the proper use of "scared" as an adjective, the Cambridge Dictionary gives this example which is almost identical to the sentence the Movement declares to be wrong:
He's scared of spiders / snakes / the dark.
This error by the Speak Good English Movement is quite unpardonable mainly because "scared" is such a simple word and its use as an adjective is so common that even children in kindergarten are familiar with it.

But making outrageous mistakes and flouting very simple grammatical rules are not uncommon for the Speak Good English Movement. They hold the view that "Alan and George works as a team" is acceptable. If you want to read about this mistake of theirs, please click here. Although I wrote in the article that the mistake was made by MOE's panel of language experts, the Speak Good English  Movement was very much involved as a collaborator on the grammar book in which the mistake appears and usually, these language experts wear two hats - they are language teachers in MOE's employ and they act also as consultants to the Movement.

If you would like to look at a list of all my articles on the errors of the Speak Good English Movement, MOE's language experts and other teachers of English, please visit my List of Grammar Terrorists.

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