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Saturday, 28 June 2008

You're Wrong. Always.

I have to admit, it may be shocking when somebody informs you that what you've been doing for the past decades is "wrong", or "unhealthy", or "dangerous", or whatever.

I remember getting a pamphlet for a certain English Language learning centre once, and they asked me to give their premises a visit, and take a test which supposedly reveals my command of English. I don't speak flawless English, but I figured I wouldn't do too bad to stain my image in a writing test.

1st part of the test: objective questions. Simple grammar, with four choices of answers, total of about 40 questions.

I got a 40-bingo. Ah well, they were primary-school-level, anyway.

2nd part of the test: subjective questions. These were slightly tougher, but I was still shocked to know my score.

"42/50???!!!" I mean, I expected something like 48 or 49.

"Yep. 42. That's very good! You can enroll for our advanced English class, we can help you do better."

"In what matter?"

"Many aspects. For example, how do you pronounce this word?"

He wrote the word 'photographer' down on a piece of paper. After hearing my pronunciation, I heard a tone of satisfaction from him.

"Ah. That word is actually pronounced as 'fur-toe-groff-for'. Check the dictionary if you don't believe me. Everybody's been pronouncing it wrongly for decades."

I don't know what dictionary he used, but I was a bit taken aback when I heard that piece of information.

Anyway, you got the idea. By telling potential customers that they are making embarassing blunders throughout their lives and that their services are the only cure for it, they won the customers' utmost attention.

Another English class example - this time at school.

"What day is this?"

"Monday," me and my class murmurred.

"Do you know that it is actually pronounced 'mon-dee'?"

Some of us were surprised. Others were sniggling, "Mandi? Mandi?"

"Yes, 'mon-dee', 'toos-dee', and so on."

OK, that got my attention twice. But I wasn't stupid enough to not notice that this 'you-are-wrong' tactic is getting suspiciously widespread. How can we be wrong so many times in our lives?

A skin/facial advertisement actually told me that I need to have my sunblock on even if it's a cloudy day, because UV rays penetrates the clouds. Well, that or visit their shops once in a while for a treatment.

Ironically, few days after that a newspaper article actually told me that people nowadays are so afraid of the sun that they are not getting enough sunlight to generate sufficient amount of Vitamin D.

Then there's the shampoo advertisement, which highlights the negative effects of blow-drying and dyeing of hair, and states that their shampoo has enough protein to restore hair.

And we've also heard that we come in contact with countless bacteria, germs, and viruses each day, and we need to use a certain antiseptic soap to 'sterilise' ourselves each day.

Well, for the sake of clarity, not all microorganisms are harmful and it is actually more harmful to be sterile. Secondly, most facial treatments destroy skin rather than regenerate them. And I neither blow-dry nor dye my hair.

Back to the English class at school, I couldn't believe day can be pronounced as 'dee'. I flipped my dictionary and found the word 'Monday', and, oh hoho, found out that 'mon-dey' is the main pronunciation, and 'mon-dee' is the alternative one.

Haha, nice try, sir, but I'll stick with the mainstream pronunciation.

And at the English Language centre...

"So you want to join our classes? We assure maximum quality, it's a Singapore established company."

Singapore established company? Your name is British.

"Erm, can I take a look at the answer of the subjective questions before I decide?"

"Yeah sure, here it is."

And guess what I found out. The answers were wrong. Hey, I know my English's not that good, but nobody says "peoples" or "a lots of". A quick look told me I should be getting 48/50, at least.

"OK, thank you. I 'll let you know in a day or two." I handed him back the answers.

I don't think I'm going to pronounce the word 'photographer' correctly then.

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