Dispose vs. dispose of

This bathroom sign says:

Kindly dispose sanitary pads in the sanitary bins provided. Please do not throw them into the toilet bowl as it will choke the sewage sewerage. Thank you for your co-operation.

There are several things I’d like to point out about the sign, including the use of ‘dispose’. See below for details.

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Buying books in Singapore

Brick-and-mortar bookshops in Singapore (as elsewhere) face high rent and stiff competition from online sellers, so they’ve been dropping like flies. The major chains and a handful independents are still scraping by.

See below for lists of:

  • Book Shops at Bras Basah Complex
  • Other Indie Book Shops in Singapore
  • Local Sources for Children’s Books
  • Local Retail Book Chains
  • Local University Book Shops
  • Local Online Booksellers
  • International Online Booksellers
  • Special Book Sales
  • Person to Person Websites

Continue reading Buying books in Singapore

We Love Toa Payoh by Urban Sketchers Singapore

Urban Sketchers Singapore has produced books of sketches of:

  • Toa Payoh
  • Katong
  • Queenstown
  • Little India
  • Bedok
  • Chinatown
  • Tiong Bahru
  • Geylang Serai

I should really get the Chinatown one of these. Used to live there.

When and Why I Read We Love Toa Payoh

This is an attractive locally-produced book (featuring a Singapore neighborhood I’m not personally familiar with).

Genre: non-fiction (art)
Date started / date finished:  25-Mar-17 to 25-Mar-17
Length: 96 pages
ISBN: 9789810736231 (paperback)
Originally published in: 2012
Kinokuniya link: We Love Toa Payoh

Constellations by Nick Payne

Constellations, acted by Edward Harrison and Stephanie Street at the Singapore Repertory Theatre, has a parallel-universe premise built on some very hand-waving “physics”.

The play has just two characters, Marianne and Roland. They appear in a series of short scenes on an empty stage below a light fixture of 100 LED “stars”. The scenes tell the story of one couple, but the two lovers don’t have just one story, they have many differing stories. Sometimes they never get past an awkward hello.

More below about the play and why it was entertaining.

Continue reading Constellations by Nick Payne

Today Special

Let’s have a look at a strange sentence.

My class today was fun.

Which word is “today” modifying?

It’s an adverb, and the verb is “was”, so “today” must be modifying “was”. Easy, right?

Not so fast!

I think the sentence above is trying to say:

The class I had today was fun.

in which case “today” is modifying “had” because otherwise we’d say

My class was fun today.

So if you say “My class today was fun,” you’re either using Chinese syntax (which requires adverbs to go in front of verbs) to say that your class was fun today, or you’re using the word “today” to modify a verb that’s not technically even in the sentence but buried inside a possessive adjective.

You could say “Today’s class was fun,” using “today” as a noun but transforming it into a possessive adjective; then you’d be missing “my”.

In Chinese, I believe you could say “My today’s class was fun” because apparently there’s no rule against doubling up demonstratives like that; I’ve heard people say things like “my the other one is nicer”. In English.

In Singapore maybe you could also get away with “My today class was fun.” After all, “today” is an adjective on all the signs outside restaurants that say “Today Special”. Such signs are of course attempting to say “Today’s Specials”, but they not only fail to transform the noun “today” into a possessive adjective, they also fail to pluralize “special”, an adjective acting like a noun.

Why do we even have different parts of speech? Words change part of speech constantly, and people “misuse” them, and start fights about whether they are in fact misusing them or not, and yet we all manage to understand each other anyway. Most of the time.

Maybe the concept of parts of speech survives for entertainment value—and to provide jobs for English teachers!

Speaking of which, back when I was a teacher for a company called I Can Read, I posted about using “I can…” to test whether a word is a verb. The word ‘window’ hilariously failed my test.

Or so I thought. Shakespeare would disagree.

Antony and Cleopatra (IV.xiv.72):

“Wouldst thou be windowed in great Rome…?”
It just goes to show:

(a) Shakespeare is awesome,
(b) the internet is awesome, and
(c) you learn something new every day!

Between/to vs between/and vs from/to

Take my word for it, this sign is about a discounted movie screening that is taking place “between 1pm to 3pm”.

Using “to” with “between” sounds terrible, but I know why people write this way because I’ve done it. You start out thinking about two times in one sense, then your thinking unaccountably changes before you finish writing what you set out to write. Gah!

When stating a range of times, here are some acceptable formats to use:

We are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. [from/to]
We are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. [to]
We are open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. [en dash, not hyphen]
Drop off your donation between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. [between/and]

In the case of a movie screening, I definitely wouldn’t use “between/and” because the movie isn’t happening at one point between the two times mentioned, it’s happening for the entire length of time. I probably wouldn’t even use from/to, though. I’d probably use “start at” and “finish at”.

The movie will start at 1 p.m. and finish at 2 p.m.