Friday, 18 May 2007

BLOGGING WITH BETTER ENGLISH

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After blogging for some time, I have noticed that the usage of the British English has been manipulated into many different forms such as the Amglish (American English), Manglish (Malaysian English), Singlish (Singapore English) or even Inglish (Indonesian English). I would not say it is wrong to use such languages or dialects while blogging, as long as the messages sent across can be easily understood by the readers or certain terms are well defined. The best written article is in short and simple English.

Since Malaysia is a multi-racial country, the 3 main languages that its bloggers use are English, Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia. Majority of the blogs in this blogosphere uses English as the main language, thus I noticed that a lot of our local bloggers have problems in writing as well as in expressing themselves using the correct English. I found a few good online dictionaries but the below 3 links are the easiest to use for beginners and advance users. I hope that these dictionaries can help you to blog better. You can bookmark these as your favourites in your internet browsers.

- Merriam-Webster Online English Dictionary

- English-Chinese-English Online Dictionary

- English-Bahasa Malaysia-English Online Dictionary

Let’s start with the proper way of understanding English better with these 8 basic terms.

NOUN – a name of a person, thing, place, animal, etc
E.g. John, toy, Malaysia, cat

PRONOUN – a word that is use in place of a noun
E.g. I, we you, they, he, she, it, etc

ADJECTIVE – a word that is use in describing a noun
E.g. blue, smart, old, bad, tall, angry, etc

VERB – a word that expresses actions or a state of being
E.g. go, play, sing, come, is, am, are, is, was, were, etc

ADVERB – a word that answers to questions beginning with how, what, when and modifies verbs, adjectives and other adverbs
E.g. quickly, cleverly, fairly, early, etc

PREPOSITION – a word placed before a noun or pronoun to show its relation to another word
E.g. to, from, in, for, under, over, etc

CONJUNCTION – a word that connects other word, sentences or clauses
E.g. and, or, but, through, thus, etc

INTERJECTION – a word or phrase used in exclamation
E.g. Oh! Good! Hey!

Now that you have understood the 8 basic terms, let’s look at some of the things to avoid while writing a blog.

DO NOT WRITE DIRECTLY INTO THE POSTING AREA
You will have a hard time rewriting your blog if you have post it and got a server/program error. So make a backup by writing your blog in MSO WORD first. Run a spell/grammar to proofread your articles to avoid unnecessary spelling and grammatical errors. Now you can copy and paste your article into the blog post

DO NOT SIMPLY USE SINGULAR OR PLURALS
E.g. My mothers is going to the market. It makes people think that you have two mothers. Even if it is true, the verb should be written as “are”.

DO NOT MISUSE THE COMMAS, SEMICOLON AND EXCLAMATION
E.g. Avoid overusing commas, that are not necessary, and do not overuse exclamation marks!!! Do you get it??? Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is supposed to be; and never where it is not.

DO NOT LEAVE A SENTENCE HANGING IN THE AIR
E.g. This sentence no verb. This is not a complete sentence but merely a subordinate clause.

DO NOT START A SENTENCE WITH A CONJUNCTION
E.g. And I think he has lost his way coming here. But I guessed he should have called us to tell us where he is now.

DO NOT MISPLACE THE APOSTROPHE
Apply the apostrophe at “it's” proper place and omit it when “its” not needed. The right usage should be: Apply the apostrophe at “its” proper place and omit it when “it’s” not needed.

DO NOT USE LONG WORD WITH MANY SYLLABLES
E.g. How could I understand you when you use sesquipedalian words?
Definition:
sesquipedalian: having many syllables

DO NOT USE THE HYPHENS WRONGLY
Make sure you hyphenate a word properly.
E.g. relocation and not re-location, preparation and not pre-paration, pre-perforated and not preperforated, pre-gather and not pregather.

DO NOT BEAT AROUND THE BUSH
Articles should be simplified as readers do not like to read too many words. Use the K.I.S.S. concept, i.e. Keep It Short and Simple.
E.g. It has come to our considered attention that in a large majority of cases, far too many people use a great deal more words than is absolutely necessary when engaged in the practice of writing sentences.

DO NOT LEAVE THE READER GUESSING
Make sure you have the flow while writing. Set paragraphs for each point you have. Be systematic about how you want to present your points. Continuity of thought, logical development and smooth transitions are important. Never leave the reader guessing over what you have in your mind.

DO NOT REPEAT ON THE SAME TOPIC
Readers get bored after reading your article if you were to say the same thing all over again. Do not say more than once. It's redundant and repetitious.

DO NOT USE CONTRADICTIONS AND DOUBLE NEGATIVES
E.g.
1. In a formal writing, don't use contractions. “Don’t” should be replaced with “Do not”.

2. There can never be no man working for such a stingy boss. Negative plus negative becomes positive. It should read as: There can never be anyone working for such a stingy boss.

DO NOT USE BOMBASTIC OR FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Do not use languages/dialects that majority of the readers will not understand. Even if you do, please state clearly what it means.
E.g.
1. Avoid colloquial stuff or trendy locutions that sound flaky and confusing.
Definitions:
colloquial: informal conversation; slang
locution: a particular form of expression

2. The de facto use of foreign phrases vis-a-vis the English in your written tete-a-tetes makes the sentence rather confusing and harder to understand.
Definitions:
de facto: actual,
vis-à-vis: in relation to
tete-a-tetes: conversations

20 comments:

Yongs said...

I agree that contractions should not be used but only in formal writing. However, in my opinion, blogs are informal writing as it merely represents the person's view on a particular subject matter. So, to me, the use of contractions in blog writing is ok. And although we have been taught not to use conjuctions when starting a sentence, it is now increasingly being accepted (as you can see, this sentence starts with a conjuction). English, like life, goes through evolution.

piggy said...

I speak English at home, I went to an English school and my main conversational language is also English. Nonetheless, I still make lots of grammatical, etc mistakes! LoL.

kuanhoong said...

Cikgu Criz,

Your england is bery good..

I also like to write my blog hor.. like Cikgu Criz.. can aa?

Val said...

Whoa! That's intense AND complicated. You should open an English tuition class or something. Even I can't write that!! Lol.

Having said all that though, I sorta agree with yongs. Blogs are informal writings and so it's up to the bloggers which type of English they want to use. I used to stick to pure British English when I was chatting with cyber friends in mirc (utter refusal to use short forms and broken English with weird spellings) but lately I've been infected with these so called "Manglish" and I've been using it quite frequently in my blog. The usual lor, lar, ler, wei and what nots. My sis even laughed at my writings but hey, sometimes, it feels good just to let the local dialects rear its head once in a while.

pssst : wei, I think you should open cyber Engris class ar. Help some of us here to improve our Engris mar. Can anot ar? Of coz mas be free lar. Can can? =P

*joking nia lor, dun be angry yer*

CRIZ LAI said...

yongs: haha...ok lor. I oso use this type of English in comments lah but I hv my limits lor. Thanks for dropping by :)

piggy: din u read my blog carefully? Use lar MSO OFFICE spell/gramamr check mar :P

kuanhoong: u r better than me lar :P

val: I hate cyber classes.I rather have a real class where I can simply ketuk any babi, ular, ayam, itik who never pay attention in my class :P

Val said...

Muahahaha! Nice one! But hor, sayang all those animals lar wei. Silap ketuk, die then how ar? =P

CRIZ LAI said...

val: I'm not kejam one lar...I ketuk their heads with lollipops so that they can pay more attention during class mar. After all, that's the reward for not sleeping in class :P

Ken Xu said...

hm, you are qualified to be a teacher! Grammar teacher! Cool Criz! ^o^

CRIZ LAI said...

ken xu: thanks dude...nice to see u here again :)

-ritchie- said...

hmm..good info for me to improve my engrish haha..tyty

pikey said...

this is very true in writing english essay if you are sitting for an exam or writing for a publication. Well, if you treat your blog that way...

On another hand, if you are writing it like a fiction, such rules dont apply. Depending you want to write it like the Tolkien style or the Rowling style or perhaps like the Albom style... or maybe Coelho... or perhaps Archer?

Check out the authors, maybe you already know who is Tolkien and Rowling :p

Ah Pek said...

woo.. good english lesson here! I forgot what is adverb or pronoun already!

CRIZ LAI said...

pikey: the title is on blogging lar.. not essay writing :P Who do not know about Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien) and Harry Potter (JK ROwling)? :P

ahpek: you have come to the right place for crash course lar. Just make sure you don't crash your head onto the table. Insurance is not included :P

cc said...

Bu then hor, I write my blog the way I see fit. No fun if I start applying rules on them. Each to their own I guess. :)

pikey said...

cc: i agree wad u said and tht's my point to criz :p

CRIZ LAI said...

cc & pikey: yea.. I agreed that each has his or her own style of blogging. This are for those who required some guidance in coming out with good blogs. I did see a few blogs with lots of spelling and grammatical errors. So these tips are for them to take note before coming out with the next blog :)

kayatan said...

Cool blog u have !
Jamy

piggy said...

Grammar/spell check not reliable! :( Sometimes, the check changes your sentences until it doesn't have the impact that you initially wanted it to have. Plus, the check is not always right! :P

CRIZ LAI said...

kayatan: so sweet of you. Do you come with bread? I just love eating kaya with bread :P Anyway, Thanks for dropping by :)

piggy: I know it does not help much in grammatical corrections but at least it helps a bit. You should have some basic English knowledge before you can use that application. Something is better than nothing right?

Bell said...

Ahhh... I wish my sister could read this blog post of yours about using language correctly... but the thing is, even if I sent her the link I KNOW she won't bother to read it.

I'm guilty of writing blog posts directly in the posting page. But in general I think I use the English language correctly... although when i get into formal writing it tends to become very... passive. I proof read my writing by myself, since I used to do part-time proof reading in university, although I sometimes miss a word or 2 :P

Criz, you're always full of good advice, that's what keeps people coming back to your blog. Keep it up. People like you are a rare gem in this chaotic modern world :) I always appreciate what you have to say.

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