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I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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06 September 2012

Homeless animals and hopeless editors: do YOU care?

Homeless impala in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Just out of shot, to the right, crouching behind a bottle of 15-year old
Glenfiddich, is a lion (well camouflaged by the colour of the drink)
which is about to euthanize the most lunchworthy of them.
Would these beautiful animals not be better off
 in a Shelter for the Homeless?
(Photo. Paul Allen)
Anyone who wants a laugh on a grey day in Moscow, when there’s no-one smiling in your Metro carriage, should go online and look up the Voice of Russia. There you are sure to find something to amuse you. My “blogger’s pick” of the recent output is a piece about International Homeless Animals Day.
     We start with the customary criticism of the United States: “America standing by itself has an estimated 5 to 7 million animals that are brought into shelters, and unfortunately 3 to 4 million of those are euthanized.” America “standing by itself”, eh! And animals “euthanized”?! Knowing the Voice of Russia, I expect that word soon to be used in a different context as a synonym for “rejuvenated”.
     But to show balance we have: “On the other end of the globe, the number of stray animals in Moscow, Russia is horrendous. Up to 100,000 dogs and 200,000 cats are left to fend for themselves, often hunting one another in the process to stay alive.” Since when do spherical objects like globes have “ends”, as see-saws, lines or stories do? And what is a “process to stay alive”?
     Further down we read: “Numbers though are not needed to confirm this, only a set of eyes.” A “set” of eyes? Most people have a pair, but perhaps the Comrades at Novokuznetskaya are talking to higher beings in possession of a third eye, like Hindus, Gnostics and Rosicrucians. It is supposed to be a station with international appeal, after all.
     “Dozens of video footage can be found on youtube.com…” Dozens of footage? Not “lots of footage”, “dozens of feet” or even “thousands of coverage”? More amazing still, many of these animals are “known for their street smarts”.
     Reading on, we learn that “In the Ukraine, stray dogs are also a problem, yet report after report has shown that they are being poisoned to death.” Yes, poisoned to death. That’s real, Ukrainian-style poisoning for you, none of the namby-pamby sort of poisoning we go in for in the soft and sentimental West, where the dogs wake up the next morning with a hangover and a desperate desire for a bowl of water.
     The last paragraph is more of a sermon than anything else. “As advanced as we have come to be, giving animals the treatment they need, no matter where they are from is one key to this day of recognition and awakening. Giving to an animal in turmoil can be seen as a stroke of luck... Taking tiny steps to assist with the overpopulation may just be the perfect dose of medicine for society as a whole.”
     Gosh! At all ends of the globe, national radio stations employ people with functioning sets of eyes to euthanize any text which is in turmoil with dozens of unreadability. Not here, it would seem. This, perhaps, is the real meaning of Russian exceptionalism. Standing by itself, Russia is the only country whose international radio station uses a language with 100,000 words from which it is able to make 200,000 mistakes, despite copy-editors, style managers and Executive Producers hunting each others’ street smarts all over Novokuznetskaya in order to stay alive.
     What should the caring lingua-blogger do to help save the country we like from the broadcasters we have? My “tiny step” will be to throw open the doors of the Ian Mitchell Shelter for Hopeless Editors and offer a few lessons in basic English. It may not be “the perfect dose of medicine for society as a whole” but it might help to reduce the damage to Russia’s international reputation which the Voice of Russia inflicts every day of the week.

1 comment:

  1. "Poisoned to death" seems a perfectly acceptable phrase. For many years my family bought Domestos bleach, which, as the man on the TV adverts said, "kills all germs - DEAD!!"
    And dead they were and clean our toilet bowl definitely was.
    Such pleonasms enable poets, literati, assorted left-footers and people who know no better (whether in Ukraine, the bleach ads or not) to live their lives to the end, to be unconstrained by technical jargon, and so on, etc. Let them be......
    Bob (Robert)M