Bras Basah Complex: Art, Dance, Explore, Sports, Book

If you are looking to buy books in Singapore, this is a good place to go. It has several book shops selling new or used books. It also has print shops, art supply shops, stationery shops, and shops selling musical instruments and antiques.

Within the last couple of years, these colorful square signs were added to convey the complex’s status as a cultural hub of sorts.

Bras Basah Complex
* Art * Dance * Explore * Sport * Book

One of my pet peeves is lists of things that aren’t all the same part of speech. “Art, Dance, Explore, Sports, Book” is a fantastic example. See below for why.

Things in lists should be alike!

If a poster, flyer, or sign displays a list, the items in the list should be all nouns, all adjectives, all verb phrases, or all sentences. Below are some examples of consistent lists.

Buy our delicious juice!

  • watermelon juice
  • orange juice
  • apple juice

Your juice, your lifestyle!

  • healthy
  • refreshing
  • organic

Why drink our juice?

  • feel energized
  • get important nutrients
  • rid your body of toxins

Like us on Facebook and stand a chance to win free juice!

  • Entrant must be living in Singapore.
  • Promotion ends June 30th.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Here’s a terrible list:

Why drink our juice?

  • feel energized
  • healthy
  • Stand a chance to win free juice!

If that list doesn’t make you wince, you and I are made of different stuff.

Art, Dance, Explore, Sport, Book

There are so many things wrong with this list that a tiny corner of my brain wonders whether the list was constructed badly on purpose so as to make people stop and think.

* Art * Dance
These are names of sub-disciplines of performing arts. We’re fine so far.

* Dance * Explore
Wait, hang on. Maybe “dance” is an imperative verb. Certainly “explore” can only be a verb!

* Sports
The singular form “sport” is more normal in British English when speaking of the category of athletic endeavors.

* Book
Okay, so “book” can be a verb, as in “I’d like to book a hotel room”, but that’s obviously not what’s meant here. It’s clearly meant to be a noun. In that case, it should definitely be plural!

It’s highly unlikely the list was written badly on purpose.

I think in this case the word “sports” started out as “sport (British, uncountable)” and had an extraneous s added to it because Singlish pluralizes uncountable nouns.

“Book” is not plural on the sign because Singlish doesn’t distinguish singular and plural by changing the noun.

I have no idea why the third panel says “explore” and not “music”, since the picture is someone with an instrument.

What should the sign say instead?

It should be a list of five abstract nouns.

Let’s ditch “explore” in favor of “music”. Let’s change “sports” to “sport”. And finally, let’s stick to abstract nouns for disciplines (“literature”), rather than nouns for concrete objects (“books”).

Bras Basah Complex
* Art * Dance * Music * Sport * Literature

Ah, much better.