joye the obscured (dustthouart) wrote in linguaphiles,
joye the obscured
dustthouart
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Speak Hypercorrect English, Singapore?

This news article is a little old (from a month ago) but I just came across it.

Act on Poor English
THE next time you see a sign written in poor English, don't just walk by. Instead, paste a sticky note over it, correcting the grammatical error.

The people behind the Speak Good English Movement are hoping that this guerilla [sic] tactic will get more Singaporeans to be conscious of their English and help others correct their mistakes.

Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan kicked off this year's campaign by being the first to correct a sign at the Xin Food Court at the HarbourFront Centre yesterday. He replaced an ungrammatical sign saying 'No outside food allowed' with a correct one which reads 'No food from elsewhere, please'.

The reach of this year's movement, now in its 11th year, has been widened to get Singaporeans to consciously speak good English, regardless of whether they are having a conversation with a colleague, a family member, a hawker or a taxi driver.

This year's tagline is 'Get It Right' - aimed at getting people to use good English, full stop.

In his speech at yesterday's launch, Dr Balakrishnan reminded those gathered that English was chosen as the main language of communication here for pragmatic reasons. It is the language of science and technology, which the Republic needs to advance, and it helps to bridge the gap between the different races here, and to reach out to the wider world. English, he said, is the most common second language in the world.

Poll #1627166 Good English?

Is "no outside food allowed" ungrammatical?

Yes, ungrammatical
11(7.5%)
No, grammatically acceptable
135(92.5%)

Does "no food from elsewhere, please" sound more correct than "no outside food allowed"?

Just as correct
89(60.5%)
More correct
16(10.9%)
Less correct
42(28.6%)


I'm a native speaker of American English and when I read this article, if you will forgive a lapse into "poor" English for a moment, I was all like "What in the what now?"

"No outside food allowed" is not only to my eyes perfectly grammatical, but I have seen that exact wording on signs in the United States and Canada, and the similar "No outside food and drink allowed". I am having difficulty understanding what is supposed to be wrong with the grammar.

"No food from elsewhere, please" seems just as correct to me, but in phrasing itself as a polite request instead of as a rule, it changes the force of the sign. Politeness doesn't have anything to do with grammar, so that can't be the source of the objection.

My second thought was that they for some reason think that "outside" cannot describe "food", but that wouldn't be grammar even if they were correct. "Green dreams sleeping furiously" etc is grammatical, even if nonsensical. At any rate, this is the same meaning of "outside" as in such phrases as "outside interference".

Is it that it's not a complete sentence? That's just bizarre to expect from signs. Should we replace "falling rock" signs with "Hey you better watch out because rocks could fall from these cliffs and hit your car, causing you to explode in a fiery cataclysm of death, or at least damaging your paint job" signs? "No food from elsewhere, please" isn't a complete sentence either, though, so that can't be it.

Thoughts?

Edit: canako/organbrat! Please come back and explain why it is ungrammatical. I AM IN DIRE SUSPENSE.
Tags: english, language in the media
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