Utterly Indiscreet

Friday, August 19, 2005

Speaking Poor English

There were lots of letter to the editor or public forum sections in the newspapers lately about whether Singaporeans should speak proper English or use grammatically correct English all the time. I have to agree with most educators who say that children should be taught proper English. Also, adults should use proper English to set an example. Children will pick up bad habits from the people around them.

Sure, if you speak Singlish other Singaporeans will be able to understand you. But what if you are talking to someone who is a foreigner or you go abroad? You are going to sound like an illiterate idiot. We use language to communicate and if you don't use standardized English, a lot of meaning will get lost. That's why people should follow grammar and pronunciation rules.

Of course, every country has its own bastardized version of English. That's is only natural when English is not the original language of that country. Language does evolve and change over time.

But when I can't understand what the hell a professor in my university is saying in a graduate lecture (where English is supposed to be the language of instruction), then that's a problem. When I can't understand someone's email because there are numerous mistakes in it, then that's another problem.

If everyone just said or wrote what they wanted, then eventually no one will be able to understand anyone anymore. There needs to be an acceptable standard of English.

BTW: Don't use "revert" in your emails. REVERT DOES NOT MEAN REPLY! Use reply instead. If you don't know what I mean, then check a dictionary. I am surprised at how many professionals use revert when they mean reply.


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