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22 February 2012

Brief boobs #2: “drastic reduction in the standard of English”

The phrase above comes from the BBC website, in the same article as the one discussed in the post immediately below: “Is English or Mandarin the Language of the Future?”  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17105569)
     “Political commentator” Ong Kian Ming is quoted as saying, “We’ve seen a drastic reduction in the standard of English in our country, not just among the students but I think among the teachers as well.”
     Generally speaking, it is quantities etc. that are “reduced” not standards. Standards “decline” since that implies an impersonal process rather than one which is the result of someone somewhere taking a specific decision to “reduce”, for example, the quantity of fat in ordinary milk, which might result in a “decline” in the standard of milk sold—if you like the creamy sort of brew which used to bubble into the pails of headscarfed maidens sitting in dilapidated milking parlours amidst the urine and excrement which used to give dairies such a distinctive smell. Strangely, the quality of the milk frothing warmly in the pail between the milkmaid’s knees was higher from a nutritional point of view before modern standards hygiene were adopted in order to reduce the levels of disease (and, as a side-effect, kill off the milkmaids—in a metaphorical sense, of course).

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