At the entrances to the restrooms in Clementi Mall, why is the same shape being used to represent a mustache and a woman’s upper lip?
The two English as it is Broken books shown above contain photos of signs and responses to people who’ve written in to a weekly column in The Straits Times with questions about English usage.
(For a listing of all four books and then some, see the earlier post, Books on Singapore English.)
The quality of the answers in the two books has been disparaged, but I think most of the explicit explanations are informative even if they are not expressed perfectly.
Below are an example answer I like and one I don’t.
This is the lid to a tower of blank CDs.
I did a double take when I first opened the package because I would have thought ‘unlock’ would be the opposite of ‘lock’ and ‘close’ would be the opposite of ‘open’ (assuming these are all verbs).
It would be hard to overstate the extent to which I hate mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are deadly serious. But this banner is still funny.
For one thing, that warrior, with his Roman helmet, looks really out of place in Southeast Asia. The text at the bottom takes the cake, though.
SILENT WAR. FIGHT DENGUE. SAVE LIFE
Lists that aren’t parallel are a pet peeve of mine. Lists should be all nouns or all verbs. Here we’ve got a noun and two imperatives. Sigh.
Furthermore, that ‘life’ should be ‘lives’. The fact that it isn’t testifies to the frequency of singular/plural errors in Singapore.
And then finally, there’s no punctuation after the last item of the list!
WAGE WAR · FIGHT DENGUE · SAVE LIVES
Now I’m totally with you, out-of-place Roman centurion.