Friday, March 17, 2017

TEDxNUS, mind your language!

I got a message this morning from Facebook about an event which will take place tomorrow and it was probably sent to me because a friend of mine will be attending it. That's how Facebook works. I clicked on the link and was led to the homepage of TEDxNUS.

I don't know much about the watered-down version TEDxNUS but I do know that TED hosts a lot of very interesting talks, some of which I have viewed with great delight on YouTube. Whatever the quality of TEDxNUS may be, the very short write-up on its home page is a bit of a letdown: TEDxNUS can't even get its language right.

I don't know if NUS has anything to do with TEDxNUS but I can't help linking this with this blog post I wrote half a year ago about an illiterate bus ad by NUSS, the 'Graduate Club'.  Just two days ago, I saw the same ad on an NUS shuttle bus.

Let's take a look at what TEDxNUS says:

The word 'meetup' is a noun which is used mainly in American English to mean an informal gathering. What TEDxNUS has in mind is 'meet up with'. I know there would be ripples of unhappy murmurings in the circle I moved in when I was a child at the mere mention of that phrasal verb and to this day, I feel a little uneasy if I am to use it but let's not be pedantic. 'Meet with', at least, has been used since the 13th century both of a planned meeting and of an accidental one. Besides, as Pam Peters rightly points out, the phrasal verb has acquired a connotation that the verb by itself does not have and for that reason alone, its use should not be deprecated.

However, 'meetup' (single word) as used on the website of TEDxNUS is clearly an error.

While you may say this error of TEDxNUS may easily be resolved by just clicking the space bar, there is another error which smacks of illiteracy. In my book, anyone who can write 'These are issues we are all familiar with, but not necessarily understand' clearly has no understanding of the different types and functions of English verbs. It is not incorrect to say that verbs are the most important of all the parts of speech and anyone who does not understand English verbs does not speak English.

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