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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Friday, August 31, 2007

The devil is in the details



Ling highlighted an article in an English Engrish newspaper in China, the People's Daily Online, where a journalist misidentified a Basking Shark for a Blue Shark.

Some would ask, "What's the big deal? Why fuss over details?" Well, my response would be, what if someone mislabeled the diesel pump at a gas station as "petrol"? How do you think your engine's fuel injectors will like it? Or mislabeled "Regular" as "Premium"? Hey, is that knocking sound coming from your high-compression engine? Or, if the pharmacist reads your doctor's prescription of "1 capsule, 3 times daily" as "7 capsule, 3 times daily"? In the latter case, the singular form of "capsule" would give a clue to the pharmacist. But if the pharmacist was educated in an environment where grammar matters little...

The difference in this case is that Blue Sharks are dangerous to humans, and have been known to attack humans (though it is no justification for slaughtering them), Basking Sharks are totally harmless — and close to extinction.

There is a saying that the absence of information is better than disinformation; or, in this case, misinformation. Instead of trumpeting the achievements of one of its star students, Mr. Li Kuang Mok, this advertisement broadcasted to the world that NTU can't teach its students to spell words at the elementary level correctly — or worse, that accuracy matters little at this technical university. If you are an employer, would you hire engineers who graduated from there? If you are a commuter, would you feel safe crossing a bridge designed by their graduates? A lot of damage (in this case, a university's image) may result from inattention to details.

Anyone care for steamed Puffer Fish for dinner tonight? Oops, I meant, steamed Pomfret. Details, details, who cares about details, eh?

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