Peo­ple in glass houses

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

OOPS PAUL! The crit­i­cism of “Colour­ful Creative” for “dread­ful use of English” (Satur­day Star, Oc­to­ber 24) calls to mind a story of a mote and a beam.

The piece con­tains some quite fun­da­men­tal er­rors of gram­mar and sen­tence construction! First, “not only” in a sen­tence should usu­ally be fol­lowed later by “but also”.

Sec­ond “hav­ing worked in ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies here and over­seas”, is a par­ticip­ial phrase which ought to be linked to some­thing else. As used in Paul’s sen­tence, it is float­ing, struc­turally and gram­mat­i­cally un­con­nected.

Then, third, he can­not de­cide whether “Colour­ful Creative” is sin­gu­lar or plu­ral: “He/she states they have…” I did not get the sense that the orig­i­nal ar­ti­cle im­plied the ex­pres­sion of a group ex­pe­ri­ence.

Paul does not claim to be a copy­writer, so his er­rors can be over­looked. In any event, he prob­a­bly has ac­cess to some­one else who vets his use of lan­guage be­fore it goes to his clients.

The is­sue of cor­rect English lan­guage us­age is an arena es­pe­cially fraught with prob­lems in this coun­try, where only a very small ma­jor­ity have English as their mother tongue, and an ac­com­mo­dat­ing ap­proach is surely re­quired in re­spond­ing to the as­pi­ra­tions of would-be en­trants into the me­dia. Clearly there is no sug­ges­tion of that from Paul.

He has cho­sen not to re­spond to the con­cerns ex­pressed by “Colour­ful Creative”, but to crit­i­cise the use of English. This too, to me, “smacks of a typ­i­cal South African malaise” – avoid the is­sue, and find some way to di­vert the dis­cus­sion.

I sym­pa­thise with “Colour­ful Creative”. I did not find the lan­guage of the ar­ti­cle “im­ma­ture and dread­ful”.

The writer will prob­a­bly be even more dis­il­lu­sioned to know there is at least one “creative di­rec­tor” in the in­dus­try who is less in­ter­ested in ideas than he is in cor­rect gram­mar, when he as­sesses po­ten­tial.

Have I been wrong in think­ing that what gets our ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try all its in­ter­na­tional ac­claim is cre­ativ­ity, no mat­ter the lan­guage used.

To “Coloured Creative” I say: I hope you find a warm, de­vel­op­men­to­ri­en­tated en­vi­ron­ment where you will be given sup­port, ad­vice and en­cour­age­ment, and not be a vic­tim of the sort of pre­ten­tious dis­mis­sive­ness that your ar­ti­cle has evoked by way of re­sponse.

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