Friday, January 3, 2014


I believe that if you put anything into print for a wide audience, as in the contents of a newspaper -- including the ads and notices and even the classified ads --  the material so published must meet a certain quality standard. Newspaper content must adhere to journalistic conventions, house-style rules and, of course, grammatically correct language (subject to the peculiarities of journalese which permits a headline like "Civil war hots up in Syria" or a sports page headline like "Arsenal are champs").

Likewise, ads placed in newspapers will need to have been proof-checked by persons who are sufficiently senior (I was amazed that NUS last year inserted an ad for its business school that invited candidates who -- in addition to having the usual positive endowments -- were "fast talkers"! Didn't anyone at NUS check on the idiomatic meaning of that term?).

I had intended to write a future blog entry on such shoddiness but two egregious examples today (Jan 3) -- a picture caption (ST) and an ad (TODAY) --  prompt me to fire a broadside now.

Exhibit One

Why is this picture caption a shoddy example of journalistic practice? All we have is his name! Yet all I needed to do was to Google Mr Lee's name to establish the fact that he was a corporate lawyer with a major law firm. There was even an ST article on him in September. At the very least, the second sentence should have begun with "With the corporate lawyer's appointment...".

Exhibit Two

I think most readers will easily spot the glaring misspelling: "insonmia" instead of "insomnia". Why didn't someone at the ad agency get it right? And the full line should be rendered as "Lao Fo Ye helps me with my insomnia & hair problem".


Inspired by this story below (ST, Jan 3), I have just coined a new word, Voldermortified...

Voldermortified (past participle): to be so haunted by one's misstep or missteps that one is no longer able to enjoy a meaningful existence. After Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine, Japan lost much regional goodwill and became Voldermortified.

Abe was Voldermortified. He quit his premiership and enrolled in a monastery.

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