Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What Lucien Wong, Singapore's Attorney General, wrote

Many years ago, in the middle of work, my then secretary entered my room to ask me if 'organise' should be spelt with an 's' or a 'c', or at least that was what I thought I heard. I told her there was no 'c' in 'organise'. She repeated what she had said more carefully. 'Should "organise" be spelt with an "s" or a "zee"?' I asked her why she called it a 'zee'. All self-respecting citizens of this country were taught from the cradle to call a zed a zed. She eyed me as if I was a fossilised specimen from the Jurassic Period and said haughtily, 'That is so passé! Stylish people today call it "zee"'.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Section 377A - the slippery slope: a short musing

Everyone around me is now divided on whether Section 377A, an outmoded law which criminalises homosexual acts between consenting adults, should be repealed. Churches seem to be quite eager to see that homosexuals remain branded as criminals. While that may be the official stand of the National Council of Churches, individual Christians are very much divided on this issue.

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Recently, many newspapers all over the world reported the story of a retired school teacher who purportedly corrected Trump's language in his letter to her.  You may read the full story in USA Today which gives more details about this retired teacher that other newspapers have chosen not to reveal. First, the 'corrections' of the retired teacher Yvonne Mason appear more like the ravings of a hysterical woman.  What's amusing to me is Mason has not shown a single language error that Trump has made. We will examine what Mason says are errors made by Trump. We will then take a look at those who defend Mason and of course there are legions of them - anyone that takes a swipe at Trump is always supported by a massive cheer-leading team and the story is always blown up out of all proportion; CNN even gave Mason two interviews at prime time.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Singapore's Good English Award in Bad English

Singapore's Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) is currently asking school students to nominate their favourite English teachers for the Movement's 'Inspiring Teacher of English Award'. You would have thought that the least the SGEM could do was to ensure that their own Nomination Form for the Award was grammatically correct. How can the SGEM assess English teachers and give an award to the best English teacher when the whole world can see that it can't even churn out a few sentences that are free of grammatical errors?

You must be wondering how anyone can make grammatical errors in a Nomination Form which has mainly empty spaces for students to fill in. You underestimate the SGEM's propensity for making grammatical errors if you think it can't possibly trip up on a Nomination Form. At the start of the Nomination Form, there is an explanatory note consisting of only five or six sentences. Short though this explanatory note may be, you can be sure that if there is room in any bit of writing for grammatical errors to be made, the Speak Good English Movement is sure to make them.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fools or Liars?

A couple of months ago, I was seated by myself in my favourite restaurant eating my favourite meal when I overheard a conversation at the next table which was occupied by a small family consisting of a Brit (presumably so from his accent), his Asian wife and their young son of kindergarten-going age. The boy was eating fish and chips and he said very loudly, 'These are my all chips'. His father very swiftly corrected him, 'These are all my chips'.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not another preschool ad!

Stuffed into my letter box recently was yet another preschool promotional flyer, this time by Learning Vision. What surprises me is Learning Vision takes in really young children - infants who are only two months old. What can one possibly teach a baby of that age? But whatever the preschool's ability may be in communicating with babies of such a tender age, I am tempted to think after having read the ad that perhaps it is less effective when communicating with parents.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why the Merriam-Webster Dictionary should not appeal to you

In my last post in which I criticised the Speak Good English Movement for using the word 'collaterals' to mean 'books on grammar', a friend of mine informed me that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has this as one of its definitions: 'informational materials (such as brochures and fact sheets) used in selling a product or service to a prospective customer or buyer'. It may be a little far-fetched to extend that definition to 'grammar books'. Further, this preposterous definition is only found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and absolutely nowhere else, at least at the present time. And it's certainly not a definition accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) or the constantly updated Oxford Dictionary Online (ODO).

There are very good reasons why you should not consult the Merriam-Webster and I'm not talking about the reasons I gave in this blog post I published a few months ago: Don't buy a Webster's Dictionary! That blog post deals with what the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has to say about a small area in English usage which, as I have demonstrated, is incorrect. What I'm questioning in this article is Merriam-Webster Dictionary's lexicographical reliability. I'm not only talking about the dictionary's comment on usage. I'm going to the heart of the dictionary - lexicography itself.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Chairman of the Speak Good English Movement blunders again and again - PART 2

What I will show in this article is the similarity between Humpty Dumpty and Goh Eck Kheng, Chairman of the Speak Good English Movement. They both use a word to mean what they choose it to mean, even though the dictionary gives a totally different definition of the word and nobody else on this planet uses the word to mean what they choose it to mean.

At the start of Part 1 of this blog post, I briefly mentioned Goh's incorrect use of the word 'authenticity'. While scanning through the SGEM's website, I discovered another glaring misuse of a common enough word.