Sunday, June 28, 2015

3 US nonfiction bestsellers flawed and faulty like that PHL textbook

June 29, 2015

Dear Fellow Communicator,

I’m sharing in this week’s edition of Jose Carillo’s English Forum a report that will hardly be any consolation to Filipinos who are finding to their disgust that some of the locally produced textbooks for primary and secondary students are not only incompetently written and chockfull of errors but are horribly edited or not even edited.  It’s about the finding that three current nonfiction bestsellers in the United States—Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin, The Road to Character by David Brooks, and On the Run by Alice Goffman—contain factual inaccuracies, false statistics, or shaky details serious enough to warrant disclaimers or frantic assurances of revision by their respective publishers. The culprit? By tradition and by default, nonfiction books in the U.S. are not fact-checked to anything near the standard of a magazine piece. But because of these scandals over bestselling nonfiction running afoul with accuracy, Kachka says, the U.S. publishing status quo might shift a notch this year by finally making pre-publication fact-checking of nonfiction mandatory. Let’s not just hope but prod the Philippine publishing status quo, particularly those engaged in textbook production for public schools, to shift several notches in the same direction.

THIS WEEK IN THE FORUM (June 28 – July 4, 2015):
·       Essays by Jose Carillo: “All” is a Many-Splendored Word Prone To Subject-Verb Disagreement (It’s because it can either be singular or plural depending on the context)
·       Readings on Language: The Lively Craft of Creating Words As Razor-Sharp Social Commentary (Though seemingly overly self-indulgent, they are a delight to read and to hear for the first time)
·       Use and Misuse: How To Use “Only” Without Risk of Being Misunderstood (When everything fails, we need a disambiguating qualifier to clarify things)
·       Advice & Dissent: 3 US Nonfiction Bestsellers Found Riddled With Errors Like That PHL Textbook (The culprit? By tradition and by default, nonfiction books in the US are not rigorously fact-checked)
·       Badly Written, Badly Spoken: A Noun Modified By “Respective” Should Always Be Plural in Form (The adjective “respective” means particular or separate so it needs to modify a plural noun)
·       News and Commentary: French Teenagers “Unable to Cope” With Baccalaureate English Question (They found the question about Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement incomprehensible and impossible to answer)
·       You Asked Me This Question: Is “In Line With This” An Ineffectual Phrase? (No, it effectively says what it means; it’s just that it’s too formal and officious for comfort)
·       The Finest in Language Humor: 50 of Arguably the 100 Funniest English Words (Sampler: Formication - The sense of ants crawling on your skin)
·       Advocacies: William Zinsser on Writing: “Short is Better Than Long. Simple is Good.” (Beloved advocate of clarity and brevity in English prose writes 30)
·       Students’ Sounding Board: Aspiring for Much Better English Than That of Today’s Teachers (A self-imposed, self-monitored improvement program can make the big difference!)
·       Time Out from English Grammar: U.S. Students Not Interested in Their Professors as Thinkers and Mentors (Most look at their teachers simply as grade-givers, not as authority figures or role models)
·       Education and Training: Alternatives to LEAP: Hot Potatoes To Learn Spoken English Quickly (You can use this online program to create your own interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises)
·       My Media English Watch: Shell-Shocked by English Grammar Bombs in Entertainment Reporting (All I can say is that they’re “Awful, awful, eww English!”)
·       How Good is Your English?: Debatable Answer Choices in English Practice Test (They can confuse when too arithmetical, too arbitrary, and too culture-bound!)

See you at the Forum!

Sincerely yours,
Joe Carillo

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