Modern Manglish: gobbledygook made plain

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Scribe Publications Pty Limited, Nov 28, 2011 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 176 pages

‘It’s dog eat dog in this rat race.’

‘We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.’

‘I hope to come first or second, or at least to win it.’

The information superhighway brings more text to our door than ever before. It’s just that most of it gets mangled along the way.

Twenty years ago, Harold Scruby’s Manglish became an instant bestseller. This version expands on the consummate mangles of the original, with all-new Scrubyisms and recent classics from the shame files of the Plain English Foundation.

Modern Manglish explores the traditional linguistic traps of mixed metaphors and mispronunciation, new words and old clichés, and euphemisms, tautologies, and jargon. It also exposes the latest Manglish in serially offending professions such as politics, business, and the law. When exactly did we all become ‘stakeholders seeking to leverage our paradigms to achieve best-practice scenarios moving forward’? Alongside these are the newest contenders for the Manglish crown, ranging from sports talk to silly signs, and from food speak to fancy-pants job titles.

For your delectation — and perhaps chagrin — here are the worst excesses of Manglish, illustrated by Australia’s premier editorial cartoonist, Alan Moir.

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About the author (2011)

Neil James was born in Cooma and educated in Sydney, where he completed a doctorate in English while working as an editor and a book reviewer. In 2003, Neil established the Plain English Foundation with Dr Peta Spear to improve the quality of Australian public language. The foundation has since trained some 10,000 professionals. Neil chairs the International Plain Language Working Group and features regularly in the media throughout Australia. His books include Modern Manglish (with Harold Scruby) and Writing at Work, and he has published more than 70 articles, reviews, and essays on language and literature.

Harold ‘Haitch’ Scruby was born in Singapore and educated in Sydney. During his 25 years in the rag trade, he wrote two books: Waynespeak and Manglish. He spent eight years on Mosman Council as a councillor and deputy mayor. In 1996, he became chairman of the not-for-profit Pedestrian Council of Australia. Harold is a passionate crusader for pedestrians, particularly ‘walking families — moving forward’, and the executive director of Ausflag Limited, which wants the jack removed from the Australian flag. He has written articles for Australia’s leading newspapers, and his favourite quip is one of Jerry Seinfeld’s: ‘I love the Australian flag … Britain at night.’

Alan Moir was born and educated in New Zealand, and moved to Australia in the early 1970s. He has been an editorial cartoonist for The Bulletin and The Courier-Mail, and is now an editorial cartoonist for The Sydney Morning Herald. Alan has published several books, and his work is held in collections in Australia and overseas. He has won the Stanley Award for Editorial Cartoonist of the Year six times, as well as the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2000 and 2006. He was runner-up in the United Nations Correspondents Association Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award in 2004.

Caroline Jones AO is a journalist and author old enough to have learned grammar and spelling at Murrurundi Central School. Her grandfather, Ashley Pountney, was the first editor of the Quirindi Advocate, The Murrurundi Times, and the Werris Creek Express, so she has ink in her veins and the hard heart of a subeditor of the old school. Her latest book takes its title from the King James translation of the Bible, Through a Glass Darkly. She remains Twitter-illiterate.

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