By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Modern Manglish: Gobbledygook Made Plain
By Neil James & Harold Scruby (Scribe, $24.95, softcover, 158 pages)
Quality English, plain and simple, improves our ability to communicate so it’s crucial that we use the language of the highest or finest standard.
Neil James and Harold Scruby wrote this book because they believe that English matters. The illustrations by Alan Moir add validity.
Modern Manglish is about chronicling the use and abuse of English, and also looking on the funny side. It’s not about perfection or purity. English must change or, like Latin, it will die.
Unfortunately, everyone mangles the English language. The authors admit that our “mongrel tongue is so rich and complex” that all of us, at times, twist our English.
“We also believe that the best way to battle the worst excesses of our public language is to laugh at them.”
This book makes you think about where Manglish is intruding into your everyday encounters. Many examples are given through mixed metaphors, buzzwords, double negatives, verbing respectable nouns (the verb has virtually disappeared from the language), unthinking clichés, the mishandling of tenses, grammar seems to have been tossed out of our school system and Apple’s iSlogan urges you to ‘think different’.
As we cruise through the information age, should we worry over every transient expression?
Yes, especially in the workplace. It matters that we write in a style that is efficient and not hard to fathom. However, this is where we find the worst manglers. “Suits and politicians deliberately latch on to jargon to paper over the unpleasant, and to diminish our capacity to call them to account.”
All change is not suspect, but it must be for a good reason, not because our leaders try to mesmerise us with suitspeak and pollie waffle or because many of our monosyllabic sporting heroes mumble and grunt.
“To understand Manglish at its best, we must, above all else, keep our sense o’ yuma. We can all laugh at it together.”
Edition 400, 11 March 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.