Skip to main content

Meanings and journalistic lapses

PS: This came out in the March 19, 2004 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Hope you find this interesting reading - Ben

I FOUND Jeremias Canonizado's ("Exasperated faithful Inquirer subscriber," Feb. 14, 2004) comments timely. The lapses in journalism that he noted aren't limited to the Inquirer. I have noticed similar lapses in its competitors.Many of the lapses involve spelling, subject-verb agreement, prepositions, tenses, plural and singular forms and sentence construction. To err in spelling is human. But as my high school teacher once told her class, an error in spelling is bound to change the meaning of a word. Subject-verb errors can change the meaning of a statement. Errors in plural and singular forms can also change the meaning of sentences. All these errors can lead to a faulty sentence construction.


The true mark of an educated citizen is the ability to be understood clearly in spoken and written language. Since good journalism lies in the ability to convey clear meaning (and also to educate), newspapers have the extremely serious task of preventing errors that may come out in the morning edition. Even a single error can have serious repercussions.An example is the mistranslation of Pope John Paul II's 1996 speech on Biological Evolution. As evolution is commonly perceived as an example of the conflict between science and religion, the Pope's speech was a landmark statement.In the translation of the Pope's speech by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, what the French original meant as "more than a hypothesis" was translated into "more than one hypothesis" in English. Clearly, the meaning changed because of the error. "a" and "one" didn't carry the same meaning in the context of the Pope's speech. Scientists and theologians began to ask, "What on earth does the Pope mean?" The Vatican newspaper had to publish an erratum.Most of the Inquirer's readers are neither scientists nor theologians but ordinary citizens who have no time to debate on meanings over morning coffee. Fearless views mean nothing if these views are not communicated clearly.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.

Flame trees in bloom

The hottest summer courtesy of El Nino in at least 10 years gave runners and walkers in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus a visual treat. This year the flame trees Delonix regia are in full bloom!
In past summers it wasn't as hot and dry so the trees did not shed their leaves and few blooms were produced.
It is the tropical version of the Japanese Hanami or the Cherry blossom viewing season. While Hanami tells us the fragile impermanence of beauty, the flame tree hanami tells us that summer burns but soon it will all be over.