Sunday, August 13, 2006

Discoveries While Reading English

I’m worried about the future of the English language.

Or rather, I’m worried about those who use it and the societies in which they live.

Now, anyone who would accuse me of being a total perfectionist has not seen me clean my room. Even though on the outside it looks alright, the dust bunnies under the bed would gladly come forward to debunk such accusations against me in a court of law.

Those dust bunnies are my alibi. However, when it comes to writing...

I was reading an Associated Press article on the Fox News website about the cease-fire that was due to go into effect Monday morning in the Middle East, when toward the end of the story I read this:

The deal was seen at best as a draw with Hezbollah, and some felt Israel — unable to subdue a guerrillas force — had lost.

A “guerillas” force? A minor mistake, maybe. But 1) think about how many people don’t notice it and 2) think about how many times it happens on any given day.

Over the past weekend, reading the New York Post, I came across an article talking about the bombing plot of the hour, which was smashed by UK police last week. Again, at the end of the story, entitled “INSIDE FIENDS' MASTER PLAN”, I found by accident another error. Following the story itself was a link to a graphic that detailed how the Muslim bombers planned on carrying out their attacks on a number of airliners flying from London to America.

The link?

Click hear to view The invisible bomb graphic

I have to admit, for a second there I thought that the above link was some sort of audio file.

Alas, no...when I clicked on it, it was indeed a graphic.

All one needed to do to see that was not to click “here”, but “hear”.

Finally, I was reading another AP article just a few moments ago talking about how President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has started his own blog. In “Iranian President Gets Personal in New Blog”, a blogger based out of Tehran said of the president’s effort that "It's nothing but for publicity. Why Ahmadinejad used to have nothing to do with Internet and even talked against journalists and bloggers before he became president,". For those who might not have caught it, it should have been “Why, Ahmadinejad used to have nothing to do…” Or at least, for God’s sake, a “(sic)” after “Why” entered by an AP editor.

Enough with the nitpicking for now.

I’ll be honest with you – those aren’t the only three such errors of spelling or editing omission I’ve seen in recent months. At those odd times when I buy an International Herald Tribune (usually when I’ve a letter printed in an issue), I will peruse the articles compiled mostly from the New York Times, but also from the Boston Globe and other world newspapers, and cringe when I come upon errors that should have been caught by even the laziest of copy editors. I’m not even looking for them – we’re talking about my finding them over the course of my casual reading.

Look, I admit to my own errors. I'm not perfect. I’ll also admit, once I’ve written something – say, a blog entry, for instance – I’ll read it over and over and over again, and usually find spelling mistakes or a grammatical faux pas, or just something that doesn’t seem to flow smoothly. And then I’ll fix it until the spelling is correct, the grammar is in shape, and the phrase, sentence, or paragraph flows as I would like it to.

But I see the errors I talked about, and others like them, all over the place in the American English-language media. Maybe I’m off-base pointing them out, but I’d like to think I’m not. It just seems to me that the acceptance of mediocre English spelling, or grammar, should be limited to such countries as Israel – where, if one goes to the movie theater at the Jerusalem Mall, he or she can see movie posters underneath pieces of paper with the Hebrew for “coming soon” printed along with, in English, “comming soon”.

1 comment:

Avram said...

In your blog, you write:

"Look, I admit to my own errors. I'm not perfect"

I say, stop lying! :)