Monday, January 20, 2014

The Oops! factor, and how I found my own 'office space'...

The number 369: a correction that still needs correction!

TODAY (Jan 20) wrote a correction for its mistake in a story it published last Saturday:

Such a correction is needed for the record. But the correction above is still incorrect, and I am surprised that the Singaporean (ex-NS) males among its editorial staff are still unfamiliar with SAF parlance. As written up above, TODAY is suggesting that Minister Ng is saying that the SAF has 18 divisions, ie, 3 divisions of one kind of formation (say, airborne?), 6 divisions of, say, armoured forces, and 9 divisions of, say, infantry forces. That's absurd.

All that's needed to get the correction correct is a simple capitalised "D". That is, the defence minister said: "... We have 3, 6, 9 Divisions...". In SAF parlance, it is common to just say 3 Div, 6 Div, and 9 Div rather than 3rd Div, 6th Div, and 9th Div.  I suppose Dr Ng kind of mixed things up and hence helped trigger both sets of errors. He could have stayed with the SAF's usage and said "... 3, 6, 9 Divs." That might have helped avert the bloopers.

But TODAY is still a fairly new newspaper with very little institutional memory. So all it needs to do is to instil among its editorial staff -- especially those tasked with running quality checks -- a paranoid culture of getting not just the facts right, but their contexts as well.

What I find refreshing about TODAY is its creativity -- more often than not -- when it comes to headline writing. This recent example is very good!...


No, you can't use 'reverting' in this manner!

Meanwhile, The Straits Times slipped up today (Jan 20) in its editorial (leader) by its wrong use of that tricky term "revert/reverting". The editorial represents the voice of the newspaper and its content has to be flawless as far as language usage is concerned...

"Revert" means "to return to a previous state, situation or practice" and it is unfortunate that Singaporeans just love to say "Let me revert to you" when they mean "Let me get back to you". Well, no, the editorial above did not make such a silly mistake. Its error is more subtle.

The editorial said... "before reverting to six months of data". But there was no previous instance when six months of data was tried; "revert" is a precise word! There has to be at least one instance when six months of data had been tried out in order for "reverting", as used above, to be apt.

Go on, make my day!

As usual, I'll like to end on a lighter note. I may have recently retired but it seems one new mall in the Jurong area has given me an office, with my name on the door...

"My door" is next to this one:

I don't know who "BMS" is but could "ELV" be Elvis?? He may still be alive, and hiding out here in Singapore!

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