Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tips for the junta on censoring English-language news 

May 06. 2019
Facebook Twitter

1,021 Viewed

When CNN and the BBC were covering the Thai election, the junta censored them by blocking programming and running a sign that announced: “Programming will return shortly.” This was perfectly grammatical and concise.

More recently the sign was changed to read: “Program will be resumed shortly.” This is slightly awkward. “The program” would be more idiomatic, and the shift to the passive voice is unfortunate. Some people think the passive voice is more polite than the active, but English style manuals favour the active because it is more forceful and direct. Contrast the two sentences “I killed the cockroach” and “The cockroach was killed by me”, and you’ll get the idea.

From these two versions of the same announcement, we can infer that the junta’s English-language skills, instead of improving with time, have deteriorated. 

How should the sign read? I suggest “Programming will resume shortly.” If the junta wants to explain why it has so rudely interrupted the programming, it might add: “We’re censoring it because we’re afraid it might include stuff we don’t want you to know.” Such disarming candour will surely charm viewers who might otherwise be annoyed.

Yours for greater precision of language,

Ye Olde Pedant

Tags:
Facebook Twitter
More in Lifestyle
Editor’s Picks
Top News