Browsing All posts tagged under »fail«

To do well in English, don’t bother with Latin

June 27, 2017

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Don't kid yourself. Latin isn't English. Not by a long stretch.

To bullshit or not to bullshit, learn it properly

May 12, 2015

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Remember, the effectiveness of any bullshittery is that it should be readily understandable. If not, then the bullshit is failing its mission.

Missing the point … again

December 14, 2013

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Learn to be easily blindsided by recourse to hidebound rules. Some lack of rules are meant for profit-taking, my friends.

Pad, but think of your audience too

August 28, 2013

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Padding is necessary sometimes, but bear in mind WHY your readers are reading your stuff. (Some adult language in post.)

Street of Shame: First candidates

July 12, 2013

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STREET OF SHAME CANDIDATES REGULAR readers will have noticed that we have a static page called Street of Shame. We think we now have debut candidates for entry. Once upon a time (yesterday) it all started with one innocent Facebook status update:— “How fast can you uncork a bottle with a handscrew?” No sooner had […]

‘Ninja’ really is invisible ninja

June 12, 2013

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Probably the world’s only online explanation on the correct Chinese translation for the Japanese word "ninja."

The Economist: ‘Why so little Chinese in English?’

June 7, 2013


The Economist asks why English has so little Chinese in it. I ask why Chinese has near-zero English. I think my question is more heavyweight than The Economist's.

Fail: Who’re you quoting anyway?

December 17, 2012


CONSIDER this for a moment:— No names mentioned, but this newspaper is in an English-speaking country. It seems as if it’s quoting the tree, forcing the reader (even if momentarily) to do a double-take. It would’ve been better just to use the quotation as a blurb and be done with it. It’s a straightforward newspaper […]

Ramping up the scholarly flak

December 2, 2012


’ERE WE GO AGAIN! Yet another post about that long-running saga (sago?) on the word scholarism that’s also the name of a Hong Kong student protest group. Learn English or Starve has gotten lots of off-site flak (German: fliegerabwehrkanone, lit. ‘aeroplane defence cannon’: anti-aircraft fire — as if you didn’t know already) for our two […]

Prepositioning for failure

November 19, 2012


YOU have only one job and one job only, yet… As you may have noticed, the chart tries to give us a sense of various English prepositions. A preposition [prep-puh-zish-uhn, /ˌprəpəˈzɪʃən/] is a part of speech that shows the relationship of one word to another so as to provide spatial, figurative or some other meaning […]

‘Scholarism’? Is it edible?

September 1, 2012


“I know you’re smart. But I hope you didn’t make the classic smart person’s mistake of thinking you’re smarter than everybody.” — Carl Van Loon to Eddie Morra in the movie Limitless (2011) IF there’s one thing worse than seeing our best and brightest go off at a tangent and waste their precious youth on […]

Pity the young souls

July 27, 2012

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HAVE A LOOK at this school worksheet:— We’ve converted the original photograph into monotone on purpose in order to hide the company watermark. This worksheet is for teaching how to figure out the days from descriptive language. * Fill in the blanks This is what the worksheet requires:— (a) The first Monday is the 3rd. […]

Your ‘cum’ is rubbish

May 15, 2012

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‘FAIL’ on several levels:— (Victoria Park, Hong Kong, 10 May 2012) This is exactly the kind of antics that call into question one’s reputation, capability and mental stability. * You’re not writing a bleedin’ essay, so stop using cum. It’s also liable to be made fun of because of its pornographic connotations, jizzhead. If you […]

FAIL: Literalism, lost in translation, literally

May 13, 2012

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HERE ARE TWO EXAMPLES from a few hours ago that show the typical bungled literalism that is starting to overpower translation work here in this part of the world. Translators! Pay attention! Class is in session! * * * Exhibit A This is an original Chinese-language book and not a translated work. It is one of […]

Come again, who’s dead?

May 3, 2011

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Get it first, but get it right first. — Journalists’ maxim © Learn English or Starve, 2011.

Control and accusations

September 10, 2010

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Anyone want to hazard a guess what this sign is about? Why is this sign hard to understand on first sight? Why is it also wrong grammatically and meaning-wise? How would you rewrite it? (Henderson Land construction site at 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong)

Scribbling re TV language

September 2, 2010


Found a note I wrote from my paperwork: 17 March 2010 @ 01.20 As I sit in my office dealing with sensible stuff, I have the telly on just a few feet away. The Pearl Report is doing a hall-of-fame kind of report on a local Hong Kong politician. The English in Hong Kong is […]

Signs that you’re going to mess up big time

August 16, 2010


HONG KONG proclaims itself as “Asia’s World City.” If the communication abilities of seasoned professionals in this 1,000-square-kilometre territory is anything to go by, you have to ask if we could be trusted with anything more complex. To wit: Here (below) is a hoarding at a construction site somewhere in Wanchai district on Hong Kong […]