Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adventures in international English

I'm always afraid of the karma police when I point out oddities in English from (possibly) non-native speakers; I mean, it's not as if I could write a headline or news story in Italian or Swahili. But if the esteemed John McIntyre can link to the Teabonics hall of shame, surely I can share these recent headlines from Google News:

Do not feed children with bad spelling and poor grammar

Because they perform better on empty stomachs? No, the headline means "don't feed children bad spelling," i.e., don't expose them to its corrupting influence -- still not quite idiomatic in my dialect, but if you omit that ambiguous "with," it's a little easier to grasp the sense.

Poor Knowledge of English Keeps Away Green Pasture

This one, apparently composed here for a story picked up from the Tanzania Daily News, was more mysterious -- the headline's "pasture" appears nowhere in the lengthy text. But at the very end, we find the detail that must have inspired the headline writer: Tanzanians, says one teacher, aren't learning English well enough to qualify for jobs in neighboring East African countries -- greener pastures, at least metaphorically.

1 comment:

Stan said...

Frankly, I would sooner see children make elementary mistakes in grammar than see them turn to church authorities in search of "high moral standards".

Almost inevitably, the article falls foul of Muphry's Law: "these errors are repeated in some television and newspaper advertisement".