(Article published on The Reporter Weekly on March 22, 2013. This is an edited/compiled version of three of my previous blog posts on the same issue.)
Case 1: Nepali journalists have been found to write long confusing sentences, with lots of dangling modifiers.
It was about 8:30 am, the organisers were honouring leaders with khada (strips of religious cloth) at the podium after the welcome speech when Basnet climbed up the stage and struck Shyam Sangat and Narmada Pokharel who were announcing with a wooden frame.
I was casually reading the so-called ‘most widely read’ paper in Nepal. Then, I came across this funny atrocious sentence. I had to scratch my temple, literally, to get this one. A full face-palm followed.
If you read Nepali English newspapers, you will see these types of sentences as permanent features. One question bothers my mind. Do the editors (or the ones responsible for editing) even go through these types of sentence structures? May be, it’s the official editorial policy – to write long winding meaningless sentences and make the readers confused. Plus, it helps increase the reader-time.
Here are few more examples.
A day after the Sita Air Dornier plane crash on the banks of the Manohara River that killed all 19 people on board, office-bearers of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and domestic airline companies held a meeting under the chair of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Posta Bahadur Bogati at the ministry, to find ways to avert air crashes.
Gajurel also warned that his party would sabotage Dahal and Bhattarai’s dream of sticking to power for 25 years through a wave of street protests.
Verdict: Journalist friends, please stop translating Nepali sentence structures into English while drafting the news. English has different sentence structures. Besides, you sound like the very politicians who love speaking in endless circle of stupidity. Stop being childishly creative.
Case 2: Nepali journalists, you are acting like a stuck-up grammarian
CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal today said that the country’s nationalism was at risk due to the wrong decisions of UCPN-Maoist-led government.
I know, in the school days, our English teacher would be hell-bent on teaching us the prescribed grammar rules. Memorize them. Or get the cane. Out of those many rules, we had learnt the conversion of reported speech by heart – that you must shift the tense (into the past tense) while changing direct speech into indirect. Okay. No harm done. However, sentences like the one above don’t really make sense at all.
I get itches and rashes whenever I read a sentence, although grammatically correct, that loses its meaning. Or muddles the meaning while being grammatically correct. You flip through the papers and you will most certainly find instances riddled with this ‘standard’ practice.
Here’s a couple of more from the same news piece.
Without pinpointing any country, the UML chairman charged that foreign powers were responsible for bringing about division in his party.
He suggested that the only way to be free from the current constitutional and political crisis was to form a national consensus government, which would settle all those problems on the basis of mutual understanding between all the parties.
Verdict: Journalist friends, you don’t have to stick to all the grammar rules you memorized in your school. Back-shifting of tense in indirect speech is perfectly fine. Just like you can put prepositions at the end. Believe me, your grammar teacher won’t come after you and murder you for that.
Case 3: Who comes up with super creative clichéd headlines, brilliant or tasteless?
For a simple-minded reader like me, these headlines pose a great obstacle to understand. They look like puzzles your teacher makes you solve, just to humiliate you. What happened to the journalism’s ‘keep it simple’ convention! What happened to the ‘intelligibility’!
Teen stabs girl, self
Chief, health secys will their eyes
Kids elope, parents get them hitched, all land in soup
Male temple virgin tradition still alive in Dailekh
Legal eagles okay CJ-led govt
Stop it already. These ‘face-palm’ and ‘LOL’ moments are killing me. And, stop with your smart alliterations and cute rhyming words. These are forcing even the serious issues into the puddle of low-price humor.
Missing P in Nepali tea
Dailekh drowns in dread as clashes crop up
Verdict: Journalist friends, please be direct, specific and simple when ‘translating’ news from Nepali. Apply the same with headlines. Dump your neologisms into the Bagmati. Not every reader can understand your subtlety, creativity and imagination. Please spare us your intelligence. You should also visit http://breakingnewsnepal.tumblr.com and gain some insights.
Meanwhile, the court has been adjourned for the next hearing. Case continues…