Friday January 27, 2012
No subject-verb agreement
THIS sentence appeared in a recent online edition of a local newspaper:
“Trading in national car maker Proton Holdings Bhd and conglomerate DRB-Hicom Bhd shares were suspended ...”
What a glaring mistake! How can the verb in this sentence (“were”) be plural when the subject (“trading”) is clearly singular?
In my observation, this is the No.1 grammatical mistake that occurs in Malaysian English. Sadly, it has become the norm! I see it everywhere – in newspaper headlines, TV news, and practically every single time I hit the “Info” button on my Astro remote.
I can see exactly where the mistake comes from. Whoever wrote or edited the sentence took a long, hard look at the noun that sits right before the verb (in this case, “shares”), and decided that because “shares” is plural, the verb must also be plural. The question every writer must ask himself is: “Where is the subject in this sentence?”
The subject is “trading”, which means the correct version of the sentence should read: “Trading in ... shares ... was suspended ...”
Have students and teachers of English in this country become unfamiliar with such basics as “Subject-Verb-Object”?
After all, it is no more complicated than “Mommy is making dinner” and “Daddy is reading a newspaper”. – Shehzad Martin
The native speaker fallacy
I DO not believe that native speakers are the best language teachers.
At best, they are only good language models but not necessarily models of optimal learners.
In response to the tenet created at the 1961 Commonwealth Conference on the Teaching of English as a Second Language in Makarere, Uganda – which stated that the ideal teacher of English is a native speaker – Robert Phillipson used the phrase “the native speaker fallacy” in an article to refer to the unfair treatment of qualified non-native English-speaker teachers since the majority of English teachers worldwide are evidently non-native speakers of English as documented by Matsuda & Matsuda in 2001.
The native speaker fallacy, as is understood literally, implies that in learning an additional language, native speakers of that language are not the best language teachers for learners even though Peter Medgyes concluded that learners taught by both native and non-native speaker teachers had an equal chance of success in his related investigation in over 10 countries.
I tend to agree with Medgyes despite the fact that native speaker teachers are, in most linguistic scenarios, more proficient, fluent and accurate comparatively.
As Medgyes posits, since non-native speaker teachers have had to adopt language-learning strategies during their own learning process, this is more likely to make them better qualified to teach those learning strategies and they are more empathetic to their students’ linguistic challenges and needs.
Therefore, the dichotomy of native speaker teachers and non-native speaker teachers should not be understood as it stands in the Malaysian context. I believe over-emphasis on any of the two will not be fruitful in our learners’ additional language learning. – Khei Yok Man