Scum, Scumb, Succumb?

July 10, 2007 at 9:20 am 1 comment

Over the years I have wondered at the quality of newspaper editing in this country. I remember asking one of the senior editors at one of the English newspapers some years ago why no attention is paid to spelling and grammar and quality of writing and editing in our major English Dailies. His answer was that if people like me would not join the editorial teams of English newspapers in this country, how did I expect things to change?

I do not work for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Friday Times, The Independent, the Straits Times and some of the leading Indian papers like Hindustan Times and Tehelka. That doesn’t keep them from producing quality newspapers.

This conversation came back to mind when my team and I were travelling to Islamabad and we picked up a copy of Dawn. The cover of Young World scumbstated “How not to scumb to peer pressure”. It was the cover for heaven’s sake – and the text as you can see was large – ANYONE would have spotted it right away – all of us did – so why didn’t the sub-editors or editor at Dawn or Young World?

When I was a child, my parents and my teachers always told me that the best way to improve my general knowledge and my language capabilities was to read the daily newspaper. I used to devour the paper every morning. Would any of us be able to give this kind of advice to kids in this country?

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The Leopard & the Fox Thirsty for knowledge & direction

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. kinkminos  |  July 10, 2007 at 10:36 am

    My kids don’t read (well, not nearly as much as i wish they would). i remember discussing it a few years ago with their English teacher, and i suggested that they might read the newspapers ‘n stuff, and she said “no way! The spelling, grammar, composition is atrocious.” (Since i don’t read the newspapers myself i wasn’t really aware of this (am i a hypocrite for having suggested that my kids read the papers?)).

    And this, btw, is Scooby Dooby Doo-land we’re talking about, not our blessed land of the puritanical.

    i believe that in the UK (i mention it only cos that’s like you know (supposedly) the fountainhead of the language under discussion) standards of written English have moved (would fallen sound too supercilious?) to a point where SMS-like spelling such as gr8 and cz (for because) is considered acceptable in standard examinations of English no less.

    Hey, maybe some of us (i mean me mostly) are just anachronistic old pedantic farts who refuse to change with the (too?) rapidly changing times. Can you imagine if we still spoke (and wrote) English this way?

    Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury

    Whan that aprill, with hise shoures soote
    The droghte of march hath perced to the roote
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
    Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
    Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
    The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
    Hath in the ram his halfe cours yronne,
    And smale foweles maken melodye,
    That slepen al the nyght with open eye

    I do agree with you on “scumb” though. Perhaps the subeditors of today think that “sub” is short for “substandard”.

    Reply

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