Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mistakes in English

This picture was taken some time last year when the apartment complex in front of our house was under construction.  I post this in the hope that it elicits some laughter and gives light to your day but at the same time not wanting the laughter to be directed at the person(s) who wrote this message or to make fun of their educational or ethical background.

So the sign is supposed to read: “Danger No Parking”, since debris might fall from the construction materials.  English spelling is always difficult, moreso for a non-English speaker.  My children have spelling tests for their English subjects.  They are in grades 5 and 3, and some words they are asked to spell are quite difficult.  Angelicum gives the child chances so that they give the same set of words to test on several times until the child masters the spelling of the words.  I tell my children that they can only learn to spell correctly when they come across the words and their meanings in their readings.  There are simple words that can be spelled by listening to the sounds they make, but with the different exceptions in English you cannot always rely on sounds.  So I tell them to read often if they want to be able to learn the correct spelling of words.

In the above case, the workers were Ilocano (my husband got to talk to a few of them at one time) and some Ilocano tongues would pronounce the words “Danger” as “Denger” and “Parking” as “Parkeng”, thus making the mistake in the picture. “Matigas ang dila” (“hard tongue”) would sometimes be said of some people who speak in some dialects.

A person’s educational background cannot be to blame either.  Even college graduates would make spelling and grammatical mistakes.  I’m one of those who, even though I’ve grown up reading, speaking and writing in English, still commit mistakes.  Spelling mistakes are caught on the spelling checker found in many applications, but grammatical mistakes are not as obvious.  A frequent challenge I come across is with the use of tenses.  My college English teacher noticed that I wrote well in one of our assignments, but brought to my attention that I tended to shift tenses, sometimes in the same sentence.  I try to be more conscious of this in my writing, but it’s not always easy.

When I read people’s postings or comments on facebook, I’m conscious of the mistakes they make in spelling or grammar.  I don’t comment on these, but still I can’t help being critical when reading, wanting to correct the mistakes with my invisible red pen like a teacher would do.  Like one of my friends, who is an editor by profession, once corrected one of my facebook posts.   I thanked him and made the needed corrections.  I’m always open to corrections and critical comments, which I would like to hear more of on this blog.

“Tao lang, nagkakamali”  (Just human, open to mistakes).  It’s only from our mistakes that we can learn and continue to grow, whether in spelling or in life.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's but fitting for yours truly to start commenting in an article like this. Yes, Pete tends to wield an invisible editor's pen. It's likewise true he also trips.

Folks on both sides of the Pacific stumble, too. A guy sent an excuse he can't come because his wife has sore throat or is"hoarse-voiced". Fine. Except he typed she was"horse-voiced". A second individual worried as wintry weather threatened her bday party. She wrote that, "Hell was falling all over the place. " She meant, "Hail"! Then a third person bragged how her sister as a bride "literally" floated to the altar. Literally? Surely the priest wondered if he should perform an exorcism instead of a wedding! Pete

Eileen said...

Haha Pete! I could imagine a bride literally floating to the altar, a footless bride at that. It must have been some kind of sci-fi wedding.

Post a Comment