Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I can't curve my exasperation

On my way to work this morning, I noticed new traffic signs posted along Madison St. inside our village. They say "No parking on yellow curve along Madison". For a second I was genuinely puzzled and wondering which "curve" the sign was pertaining to. Then my eyes were drawn to the freshly painted yellow CURBS along the street, and I felt like hammering my head against the car window. How mortifying to see such a glaring error on street signs in the subdivision where I live! And to think Madison's the main street of North Greenhills-- everyone who enters the village will see those "yellow curve" signs! Granted, not everyone will spot the error, but I'LL be seeing it every single day, and for a grammar Nazi like me that's pure torture.

My mom hates how I'm such a nitpicker when it comes to grammar, and I admit I can be excessively anal about it sometimes, but I don't think I'm going overboard here. Street signs are public domain, and it isn't unreasonable to expect to see flawless grammar and spelling on them. Don't we all get a laugh out of the photos we see on But let's bear in mind Japan doesn't lay claim to English being one of their official languages. Guess which archipelago nation in Southeast Asia does? Yet we have signs like "No parking on yellow curve", "Watch your steps", "Until supplies lasts", and my personal favorite, "Mens Wear". If we're going to post something for hundreds and thousands of people to read, we should make 100% certain we're getting it exactly right.

The same thing goes for publications (that's precisely why they're called publications). Last week, while waiting for my number to be called at a Nokia Care Center, I was flipping through a popular magazine (which I'll refrain from naming), and I was extremely dismayed by the sloppy writing and editing in the articles. I had to stifle the urge to whip out my red pen and start slashing through the dangling modifiers and run-on sentences right then and there. I see a lot of the same kinds of errors in local newspapers, and it rankles me to no end that journalists who make a living out of using the English language can neglect and abuse it so much.

And then there are commercial bloggers out there (as opposed to those who maintain personal blogs) with sizable followings, but have the most inexcusably atrocious grammar. I don't know if it's because most readers have high tolerance for sucky writing, or they simply wouldn't recognize a split infinitive if it came up and bit them on the nose, but it's beyond me how they can consider these bloggers good writers and actually enjoy reading the shamefully shoddy stuff they churn out. I'm not necessarily saying I'm a better writer or blogger (writing is more than just command of language, after all), but while my style and content may not appeal to a mass audience, I make a conscious effort to at least express myself in grammatically sound English.

If writing were a sport, grammar would be the rules. If you want to play the game, you have to abide by those rules. Never mind if the spectators don't keep track of your unforced errors or notice the number of unnecessary fouls you commit. If you want to perform up to par, keep it clean and play by the book. And you never know when eagle-eyed referees like me might be around to catch the offense.

Now I'm off to pen a letter to the North Greenhills Association officers demanding for those "yellow curve" signs to be corrected immediately.


At Thursday, November 20, 2008, OpenID thechinadoll said...

Nice one Ms. Lim :) I agree whole-heartedly.


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