6 hours ago
17 June, 2009
I can't begin to tell you how many times I come to work in the morning, and within half an hour am approached by someone relatively important with an English grammar question. I am by no means an English grammar expert, but fortunately, these are not generally very difficult questions. In the beginning I felt important: "wow, good thing I came in today, or he never would have known that designed and designated aren't the same word." Then I started to take the kindly, motherly approach: "no, I can see how you might have thought so, but type is not actually an abbreviation for typical."
But time went on, and as I've continued trying to explain the rules, I've truly been getting more and more fed up with the English language. There are just too many nuances, too many obstacles. How can anyone who isn't a native speaker really be expected to understand why sometimes you might say "in accordance with" and sometimes "according to" but that any other combination, such as "in according with " will make you sound like an absolute idiot? Sure, I know when it's correct - whenever it sounds right - but that's hardly helpful advice to anyone else. Here and there I try to fix small things, in the hope that I'm making the world a better place. It's scrap, not scrop. You're trying to say powered, not energized - we're not in a Star Trek movie. That LED is blinking, not winking. And on and on.
But the fact is, when my well-meaning friends at work write any documentation, it's generally destined to be filed away somewhere, unread. And if it is read, it's likely to be read by another non-native English speaker who won't even notice the grammar blunders. So why do I even care? Why does it even matter?
This is a long introduction, I know. I was shopping this evening when I came across this:
These guys clearly do not have the same excuse that I can grant my colleagues - this is on the shelf in a major supermarket, not filed away in a drawer somewhere. But this is exactly the kind of thing they would have asked me...
Posted by toby at 22:43