Author Topic: Grammatically erroneous sentences in locally produced English workbook  (Read 11540 times)

Joe Carillo

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I received the following e-mail from a Forum member in the evening of January 28, 2011:

Mr. Carillo,

I was fortunate to find a mint copy of your book English Plain and Simple at a nearby National Bookstore and bought myself a copy. I enjoy reading your forum online, but a book still has its advantages.

Anyway, beside your book on the shelf was a big, well-thumbed book that looked like a workbook. Written by two Filipino authors, it is entitled From Grammar to Fluency in 30 Days and had a cover price of P895.

When I opened it, I saw that it was indeed a workbook with examples, exercises, etc. On page 25 the following sentence caught my eye:

“Children are charmed by the Pied Piper’s music wherever he went.”

I thought initially that that sentence was being cited in the book as erroneous. When I read the instructions on that page, however, I saw that the reader was being asked to identify which part of the sentence is a certain kind of phrase (I think it was prepositional phrase, but I may be wrong, since I was not able to write the instructions down). In other words, the sentence above was being presented as a correct sentence despite the inconsistency in the tenses of the verbs. 

And then I turned to page 28. This time I wrote part of the instructions down. The section I saw was talking about “Verbless Clauses.” It said that these are structures without verbs and often without a subject, and that the omitted verb is usually the verb “be” and that its function is to modify a noun. It then proceeded to give the following three examples, which I copied verbatim:

1. “Garbage in very corner, Divisoria is such a dirty place.”
2. “A group of girls, most of them inexperienced, are brought to the city to work in the brothels.”
3. “The cake, when overdone, is hard as cookies.”

I was aghast! This is a book which is supposed to teach Filipinos correct English grammar and it presents these erroneous sentences as valid examples. There obviously is no regulatory body which reviews content and approves publication of books, since even officially sanctioned textbooks have been found to have a lot of errors. However, is there a way that these authors can be put to task for such a blatantly poor-quality product? Instead of promoting good English, this horrible book does the exact opposite. It should be immediately withdrawn from circulation, all copies burned, and its authors and publishers drawn and quartered.

I could not cite more examples since I did not want to spend P895 on basura. I pity the poor student or professional who bought this book in the hope of getting better grades or a better job. 

(Name of Forum member withheld upon request)

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Publishers usually have editors and proofreaders who review the form and substance of the drafts of books slated to be published.  Of late, however, books not only in English (science, history, etc.) have escaped the scrutiny of such critical reviewers.

Maybe, necessary ERRATA should be published for known adopters of the book at the expense of the publishers and the authors who earned royalties from such books.  For these ERRATA, there should be royalties to those who uncovered the errors and submitted corrections or positive recommendations.