‘Scholarism’: A reply that shouldn’t insult your intelligence

Posted on Thu 22 Nov 2012 @ 4.06pm UTC

A VERY IRATE READER wrote in (off-site, by the way) about our manifestly well-researched article “Scholarism? Is it edible?” (LEOS, 1 Sept 2012), specifically homing in on the description of the student protest group called Scholarism (學民思潮).

That very irate reader (who we shan’t name in order to avoid general embarrassment) wanted to know just exactly why LEOS saw fit to amend the description.

No particular reason. We just liked doing it. It was a mess.

The original (with amendments)

Let’s remind ourselves of what the description was:—

“A group of secondary students in Hong Kong [has] formed a social concern group named ‘Scholarism” last year. They organized have been organising students to voice their opposition oppose to the introduction of the National Curriculum in primary and secondary schools in HK here. They [have] also organised [student] mass rally rallies [twice] to fighting fight for social justice and the condemnation condemn of the June 4th massacre with students on 1st July in HK twice.”

(Amendments mine *eyeroll*)

We’ve polled some locally born, locally raised, locally educated, locally employed local Hong Kong locals about the description before posting this article. Their consensus of opinion on the quality of the description had been a resounding “rubbish.”

We have a moral and legal obligation to our readers to set any text into good, clean, crisp Standard English that is readily understandable by the largest number of native and non-native readers reading in English.

Our moral and legal obligation does not extend to adhering to Hong Kong-style English deemed correct only according to Hong Kong-style English grammar.

Origins of the copy

The original copy came from a comment thread about the word scholarism on an English dictionary website.

We actually appreciate that copy isn’t the official description of the lobby group Scholarism. It doesn’t even have an English-language description — a bizarre anomaly in a place the likes of Hong Kong.

LEOS is using the copy under the auspices and principles of fair criticism. Had we reused it in original form intact, we would have contravened the dictionary website’s terms that govern copyright. In that sense, LEOS is compelled to make amendments so as to be in line with reuse for fair criticism.

We mean no disrespect to the owners of the dictionary website, but we hope to mean every possible disrespect to the very irate reader who saw fit to defend the indefensible.

The owners of the dictionary website have kindly asked us not to identify their site, mainly because it’s embarrassing enough for them to let through that abortion of a comment. We most certainly can relate to that.

Challenge accepted

The very irate reader (who, incidentally, hails from Hong Kong) said that, if we’re so brilliant in English (which we’re not), then come up with a better description.

Challenge accepted, faggot.

In fact, we’ve done that right at the beginning of our article:—

A quick primer. In 2011, a group of secondary students in Hong Kong formed (what the local news media termed) ‘a social concern group’ (i.e. an activist lobby) to lobby the government against introducing new measures into the current primary and secondary curricula here. Basically, they’re a student protest group (not even an activist lobby) and their beef is with the new civic education curriculum that many inside and outside the education sector see as pro-Beijing nationalistic propaganda rebadged with the name ‘national curriculum.’ We’ll skip the politics of it all because it’s irrelevant to our interest.”

(‘Scholarism’? Is it edible? | Learn English or Starve | 01 Sept 2012 | 2nd paragraph)

Did you even notice that at all?

Suggested version of the copy

We like to humour our readers, and like it even more when that very irate reader is the object of that humour.

Without gilding of the lilies and much ado, we present you with this suggestion:—

Scholarism is a Hong Kong student group formed in 2011 to campaign against the National Curriculum now being introduced in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.

Its manifesto is to identify and move public opinion on issues of social justice with respect to official policies in the education sector. Scholarism is a registered Hong Kong charity and non-partisan in its membership and aims.

Scholarism has already held two student mass rallies in 2011, during which it also condemned the June 4th massacre.

If you’re a card-carrying member or supporter of any kind of lobby, be farkin’ sure to have a ready-made description of your organisation.

Learn to describe your organisation with the most important facets first. Typically that would be your organisation’s name and the type of organisation you’re operating as. Follow through with a very short description (the so-called ‘elevator pitch’) of the aims and goals of your organisation. Then end with a description of your official registration.

After that, you could follow up with anything that you desire — including 42 rounds of masturbation.

See above, friendo.

Why a ready-made description at all?

It’s simple, really. We’re surprised that you haven’t caught on to this at your age.

Whenever we introduce ourselves to anyone, we tend to say our name first and what we do for a living:—

Hello, I’m John Chan and a Form 5 student.”

“Hi’ya, man. Buster‘s the name, pimping‘s the game.”

If we’re an organisation, it is also sensible to tell others what our mission is:—

“The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 90 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions, where landmine and cluster munition survivors can lead fulfilling lives.

“The Campaign was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since then, we have been advocating for the words of the treaty to become a reality, demonstrating on a daily basis that civil society has the power to change the world.”

(via ICBL)

Let’s look at facts and practices. An accounting balance sheet is a snapshot of a company’s financial situation. It is drawn up in such a format that it is suitable for use for all purposes. If you are an accounting student or have read Frank Wood’s seminal textbook Accounting, then we need not explain any further.

In the same way, a one-size-fits-all description of yourself or your organisation helps to provide a coherent, united, public front. As a person, your description of yourself can vary according to circumstances. As an organisation, your basic description shouldn’t vary, whatever the situation.

It’s just basic organisational identity.

In a biliterate/trilingual place such as Hong Kong, it behoves any organisation in any sector to have a Chinese- and an English-language self-description.


The colour is purple and your mother’s a crackwhore. Your challenge is fenuckin’ idiotic.

© Learn English or Starve, 2012. (B12415) Image via memegenerator.net.

Posted in: Street of Shame