Author Topic: Why all this bad English in one of Manila’s leading newspapers?  (Read 6588 times)

Joe Carillo

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Below is an e-mail I received yesterday (March 26, 2011) from I.H., a Hong Kong-based Filipina writer and English-language teacher winding up her balikbayan [homecoming from a foreign land] visit to the Philippines.—Joe Carillo

Joe—I’m leaving to return to HK soon and will no longer have this particular Philippine newspaper to look at (my sister buys it regularly but she cringes on reading all the bad English). I only occasionally look at it online when I’m in HK as there’s so much else to read.

You don’t have to write this up in your website, but I just wonder if you saw the following:

(1) A feature story about men’s underwear said the “Jockey” shorts people are now advertising other types of garments. The paper’s top feature writer, pointing out accepted Western words in the Tagalog dictionary, wrote:  “…like Kleenex and Frigidaire, Jockey will be no longer just be men’s briefs…” I seem to have lost the article, but you can see that she’s saying that Kleenex and Frigidaire are also brands of men’s underpants!

(2) My favorite from the March 24th sports page: "The Philippines, defending stubbornly against a tall, physical Palestine team, settled for a scoreless draw…” I guess he wanted readers to know that sometimes, Pinoy athletes compete against spiritual teams!

(3) There was another news items about relatives of the convicted drug mules in China going to bid their criminal offspring farewell, but I can’t find it now. Perhaps you already saw it.

All this makes you wonder what editors of that paper do with their writers’ copy. Is it sheer laziness or a just-don’t-care attitude that makes editors let bad writing go? Might it be that they’re simply ignorant? Have you ever asked that question?

Here’s something that could be discussed in your Forum. I’ve been struck by Western media reports in which commentators and politicians, remarking about the mess in the Middle East, say that the situation is “concerning.” Why has that word taken the place of “worrying,” which is the proper word for that idea? One can be “concerned,” but when dire events mean countries are on the verge of civil war, or nuclear facilities threaten meltdowns, why do people say it’s all very “concerning”? That seems silly to me.

I saw a Newsweek columnist using “concerning” to describe the US and the Al-Jazeera network.  Even Hillary Clinton uses the term. Do they think using the word “worrying” would be too alarming? What do you think?*   

Cheers!—I. H.

*Just a quick thought, I.H. Perhaps those journalists and statespeople meant “disconcerting,” which means “confusing” or “disturbing.”—Joe Carillo

« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 09:31:27 AM by Joe Carillo »