Sunday, January 10, 2016

Singapore's Illiterate Movement

Correcting the ridiculous mistakes made by Singapore's Speak Good English Movement calls for a full-time job. Everything they write or post online is a mistake and I'm not exaggerating when I say that. I used to pick on their grammar book ironically titled English As It is Broken (Parts 1 & 2). You will recall that I played a game - I'd turn to any page in the book and my bet was I'd find some serious error on every page. If you would like the links to the 60 blogposts that I've written here on the errors of this illiterate movement alone, please go to this user-friendly page.

I have stopped picking on their grammar book because I've written so many blogposts on its errors that I cannot now remember which errors have already been dealt with in my blog. I really should have been more methodical and systematic in addressing the errors of their book, probably page by page but that would have been tedious. I still stand by my claim that every page of their grammar book contains at least one major error. Every time I'm bored, all I have to do is to take a look at their website or Facebook page and I'm sure to spot a shocking error on whatever webpage I chance to see.

I just picked at random a page on their website and this is what I saw:

Like many other nuggets of stupidity and ignorance that Singapore's Illiterate Movement is infamous for, this is one more to add to their mountain of dumb errors.

The word nauseous, first recorded in 1613 (3 years before Shakespeare died), antedates the verb nauseate from which nauseated is derived. If you look at the history of these two words, you will find that there has never been an issue anywhere in the world except the US. Jon Gingerich (an American language teacher who posted his views online) made the same mistake which I commented on in this blog 2 years ago. Click here to read that post.

Nauseous meaning 'suffering from nausea' has been a part of the English language for many centuries. How did the confusion first arise in America? Butterfield (2015) traces this error to the 1950s in America when usage commentators first 'perpetuated the myth that nauseous can mean only "causing nausea" and never "suffering from nausea"...'.  That this is illiterate nonsense even in America today can be seen from the pronouncement of the Merriam-Webster Concise Dictionary of English Usage (2002) which is the American equivalent of our Oxford English Dictionary:
Any handbook that tells you that nauseous cannot mean 'nauseated' is out of touch with the contemporary language.
How did the Speak Good English Movement in Singapore make the same mistake that was made by American illiterates in the 1950s? Obviously, our illiterate Movement must have picked up this error from the internet. That's what you can expect when a bunch of illiterates learn their grammar from the internet.

If you agree with me that the Speak Good English Movement is a disgrace to Singapore and an embarrassment to the people of Singapore, do you not think the Movement ought to be disbanded? I have written about 60 blogposts concerning their many errors. Surely the Ministry of Education should look into this? I'm sure if members of the Speak Mandarin Movement had made even a fraction of the errors made by the Speak Good English Movement or exhibited such appalling ignorance of grammar and usage, they would have been rounded up, shackled on the floating platform of Marina Bay and soundly flogged.

If you want to see other examples of the Movement's mistakes that even our ten-year-olds do not make, go to the link on the first paragraph of this article or if you are too lazy to do that, just click here.


  1. Just do what the rest of us do: ignore them and carry on as normal.

    1. When I first came across the laughable errors that the Speak Good English Movement made, I was amused. For a while, their errors provided fodder for dinner conversations. But my amusement turned to alarm when I discovered that the Movement's disgraceful grammar book had gone into its 10th edition and it still is today a local bestseller. I also discovered that students were encouraged by their schools and MOE to buy and read the book. The Movement's website also provides instances when students asked specific grammar questions. In one case, a student brought up a sentence which he wrote and which he thought was perfectly grammatical but his teacher told him he was wrong. The Movement's 'experts' agreed with the teacher. I have shown in one of my blogposts that the student was actually correct but the teacher and the Movement got it wrong.

      My conscience does not allow me to merely ignore them. I do not know anybody in MOE personally but I'm hoping that at least a few of the 60 posts that I have published in this blog alone will reach the attention of someone who has the authority to disband the Movement which is effectively harming students' command of English.

      I have appealed to the integrity and honour of the people who make up the Movement. I believe they are honourable people and if they can see for themselves how ridiculous their mistakes are and how ignorant they are of the rules of grammar and usage, they will most certainly resign from the Movement.