Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pat's Schoolhouse again!

Last year, I blogged about an error in Pat's Schoolhouse's advertisement. They wrote in their ad:
Pat's Schoolhouse provides a distinctly unique education for over 28 years...
As I explained in my blog post, the sentence should read: 'Pat's Schoolhouse has been providing a distinctly unique education for over 28 years...'

I've just received in my letter box Pat's Schoolhouse's 2017 ad and this time, the flyer looks even more attractive than their 2016 ad:

I am quite pleased to say that this time, they didn't use the simple present. The first sentence of their ad which contains only 3 sentences reads:
For 29 years, Pat's Schoolhouse has been nurturing children...
This is precisely what I said they should have done for their ad last year instead of the simple present and I'm glad to see that they got it right this year.

Just when I thought all was well with their 2017 ad, my eyes fell on the second sentence and I could not help but wonder if I might justly conclude that getting its language right, at least in its promotional flyer, isn't one of the many strengths Pat's Schoolhouse no doubt has.

Here's the main part of their ad:

How likely is it for the error in the second sentence to go unnoticed? I put their ad to the test by giving it to one of my children and asking him to tell me if there was anything wrong with any of the sentences. My son who has never stepped anywhere near the hallowed ground of Pat's Schoolhouse or breathed its rarefied air (both my children went to the kindergarten of our church which probably cost me less for a whole year than it would have cost me if they had gone to Pat's Schoolhouse for just a month or two) took a glance at it and told me the error without the slightest hesitation.

The sentence should read 'To be confident and courageous, and to celebrate every moment...'. Or, if they prefer the imperative mood, 'Be confident and courageous, and celebrate every moment...'. This is elementary and even a child can sense the inelegance of the sentence by Pat's Schoolhouse. Nobody, not even a child, will say, 'I want you to be happy and cheerful, and jump for joy'. Instinctively, he will insert 'to' before 'jump for joy'. Whoever wrote that sentence in Pat's Schoolhouse's advert obviously lacks this basic linguistic instinct.

Last year, I was prepared to attribute their error to a slip-up by their marketing employee. But I can't keep on doing this every year. A school should not show itself repeatedly to be incapable of getting its language right. The beautiful flyer should promote the school and not embarrass it.

For more articles on language, particularly the outrageous errors of Singapore's Speak Good English Movement, please click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for the comprehensive explanation.

    I think when you ask a person whether there is anything wrong with a sentence or passage, he would likely spot the errors or question whether certain expressions are grammatically correct. The person already has a preconception that the passage is "strange" and non standard.

    Maybe you can try showing passages  with standard usage and grammar and ask the person to spot the errors. Perhaps another approach is to find a way to seek feedback for  passages with errors but without introducing any preconceptions to the reader by telling him that the passages are awkward or non standard. Sometimes you might observe hyper corrections for passages with impeccable grammar and usage. Subtle and less glaring errors might not be easy to identify.