• Using the wrong words or just too many words for comfort


    Perhaps due to poor English writing or editing skills, some major news media outlets have lately been committing embarrassing information gaffes and grammar and usage misuses.

    Take this awfully wrong Taglish flash headline broadcast by a TV news channel on June 13: “State of Emergency sa Orange Country sa Florida, Idineklara.” As far as I know, that flash headline about that heinous massacre of 49 LGBTs kept on running uncorrected for most of the day. None among that TV channel’s news bureau seems to have noticed the grave error or, if someone did, either thought it was trivial or was too lazy to correct it.

    There’s really no such thing as “Orange Country” in Florida or anywhere else in the US. The correct word is “County”—no “r” between the “t” and “y.” In the US, a county is the largest territorial division for local government within a state; in the Philippines, I think, the nearest equivalent of county is representative district.

    And while we are at it, Florida isn’t the only state in the US that has an Orange County; there’s the heretofore better-known Orange County in Southern California. All in all, there are 3,005 other counties in the rest of the states. (I trust that this added geographical tidbit will prevent further misuse of “county” when it crops up again in breaking news.)

    A more recurrent but no less awful grammar and editing error in local media news is wrong word choice and wrong verb conjugation. Consider this glaring example in a major daily newspaper last June 14: “PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte—Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emannuel ‘Manny’ Piñol bore his plan for the country’s food security during his visit on Tuesday as part of his nationwide tour dubbed ‘BiyahengBukid.’

    Dick Pascual, a fellow newspaper columnist, jocularly called attention to this grammar boo-boo on Twitter with this comment: “Gad, it must have been awfully heavy, or boring.” Seriously speaking, though, it’s a stupendous misapplication of the past tense of the verb “bear”—“bore,” meaning gave birth or produced—for the past tense of the verb “bare”—“bared,” meaning disclosed or announced. That statement should have been written as follows: “Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emannuel ‘Manny’ Piñol bared his plan for the country’s food security during his visit on Tuesday as part of his nationwide tour dubbed ‘BiyahengBukid.’

    What’s puzzling with that verb misuse is that the headline of that story actually used the present tense of “bare” correctly: “Piñol bares agri plan; to set up helpdesk for farmers.” The copy editor or proofreader had obviously concluded that logically, “bore” is the past tense of “bare.”

    Of course we must contrast serious verb misuse with simple proofreading errors, like wrongly using the present-tense verb “continues” for the adjective “continuous,” as in this sentence in a recent newspaper column: “The purpose of continues testing alongside the manufacturing process is to protect our consumers from substandard products that could put their safety at risk.” I’d say such errors are pardonable but should bear watching out for.

    However, reporters and editors definitely should take decisive action against the wordiness of some of the personalities they interview, like the candidate for high office who said shortly before the May 9 elections that she believed she can move people to back her programs, adding with a flourish: “I feel that I think I can be able to do that.”

    Unless the editors and copyreaders of the newspaper where that statement came out had exactly the same highly verbose frame of mind, that quote could have been boiled down to any of these succinct quotes without causing the candidate to take offense:
    “I feel I can do that.” “I think I can do that.” “I’ll be able to do that.” “I can do that.”
    Yes, that short and simple.

    Visit Jose Carillo’s English Forum, http://josecarilloforum.com. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me at Twitter.com @J8Carillo. E-mail: j8carillo@yahoo.com


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    1. …this execrable code-switching ‘taglish’ gravely undermines our ideal of English language proficiency…it smacks of intellectual indolence, colonial affectation & faux status pretension…it needs to be discouraged or even banned outright…

    2. the best is most editors cant tell the difference from he,she, him,her. anyway you get a laugh reading their “english”

    3. Lol the problem is we should start using our national language Tagalog and stop using English or taglish. Stop our colonial mentality culture.

    4. Mr. Carillo; even a natural born English speaking and well educated person wrongfully parse their usage of the language at times. I am still at awe at Filipinos’ ability to use it, compared to other people of the non English speaking countries.

      • That’s not really surprising given that Filipinos have had an almost 120 years’ head-start with the English language, beginning in 1898 when the United States ended Spain’s nearly 377-year colonial dominion over the Philippine Islands.