The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – Freedom of Expression

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

It is, once again, that time of the year when we UWI examiners are called upon to mark examination scripts. As a result of the introduction of the semester system, this has now become a biannual exercise for us in May/June and December/January. None of which, of course, is of the slightest interest to any of my readers, but it serves to illustrate starkly some of the eldritch ways in which this columnist derives fodder for his weekly offering.

Perusing some scripts last week, and encountering for the umpteenth time in them the seemingly perennial elision of the “ed” and “d” from the past tense form of some verbs, the alarmingly familiar unfamiliarity with the proper usage of “their”, “there”, “they’re” and “they”, who’s for whose, and the jarring insistence of putting a “d” in “privilege”, I began to wonder whether I am not merely a silly old nerd whose demand for the proper spelling of words and the accepted use of English marks me out as an ageing dinosaur.

But then I thought further on the issue, and I recalled that the elision of the past tense endings had indeed now become accepted usage in some modern English expressions so that it would now be almost laughable to ask for iced cream, waxed paper, or skimmed milk. Hence it may be that one day, newspapers might very well be “publish”, matters will be “discuss” and decisions “consider”. I note in passing, with some alarm, that the spellcheck on my desktop is not even signaling that these are incorrect, but I digress. Sic transit gloria, I assume.

One of the areas of law of which I happen to be a keen student is that of freedom of expression and the nature of its regulation. In law this is usually effected through the jurisprudence governing defamation, blasphemy, and by the criminal law that governs libel, the use of threats, indecent language and the theoretically troublesome offence of using insulting language to a police officer, among others.

It may be then that while much of the concentration in the phenomenon freedom of expression is on what one cannot or should not say, much less attention is paid on how we express either in words or writing what we want to communicate to others. So when some weeks ago James Comey, the recently dismissed Director of the FBI complained “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election,” he was not merely expressing regret at his actions late last year, but in fact was denigrating himself in a Nauseating way. According to one commentator, “If you’re nauseated you’re about to throw up, if you’re nauseous, you’re a toxic funk and you’re going to make someone else puke. These words are used interchangeably so often that it makes word nerds feel nauseated!”

Yet it would be churlish to deny that Mr Comey did not tellingly get his point across. If it is about communication only, then we should not cringe at the media usage of “comprise of”, “council” for “counsel” or “criteria” as a singular noun. There is, too, a current radio ad that blares about “the less (sic) plastic bags you use…” But for the very few who carp at these misuses of accepted expressions, they must now consider whether they are not in effect seeking to infringe the misusers’ freedom of expression.

Indeed, in this context of dichotomy, today’s leader in the Barbados Advocate raises an intriguing question as to whether the extent of freedom of expression might not differ in one person, depending on whether he or she is speaking officially or as an individual.

So that while the Honourable Minister of the Environment, Mr Denis Lowe, has unbridled freedom publicly to air his suspicions of, and views on, what he considers a probable future enactment of legislation permitting same sex marriage, the editorial wonders whether he is as politically or electorally free to do so in his capacity as the representative for the diverse constituency of Christ Church East. And while there are those who will condemn him for expressing even a personal view on the matter, there is nothing in the constitutional guarantee, on a plain reading, that appears to limit the choice of subject matter on which one may express an opinion.

An apt analogy is not far to seek. An employee is free, in the company of his or her friends, or even anonymously on social media, to express a personal view on any aspect of their workplace conditions. That same opinion, posted on social media in a circumstance where the poster may be identified, may lead to startlingly different results for that worker’s economic fortunes.

Similarly, I suppose with the freedom of expression as it pertains to the mode of its exercise. You may elide the past tense indicator to your heart’s content, put a “d” in privilege, and even append the understandable extra ”o” in “lose” so long as the communication is personal or among chums. For those communications of a more formal nature, such as court documents, examination scripts and general public addresses, there is a tried and tested cannon. Until it changes, as perhaps, given the historical development of the language, it will, you should use it.

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63 Comments on “The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – Freedom of Expression”

  1. Caswell Franklyn May 21, 2017 at 6:35 AM #

    Jeff

    You should be aware that many of those students would only have gotten into UWI because they received grade one passes in English at CXC.

    Like

  2. David May 21, 2017 at 6:39 AM #

    Interesting comment Caswell. To be fair to the student Jeff should feedback, if he is able to, whether in his opinion the error was a careless one or through ignorance.

    Like

  3. de pedantic Dribbler May 21, 2017 at 7:42 AM #

    @David, …where in Jeff’s piece did he indicate that this is a ‘student’ or for that matter that the issues raised have not been seen for years.

    @Jeff, two comments.

    re politicians like Lowe can we really expect them to always curb personal comments that may be anathema popular acceptance in their executive governance role.

    Maybe this is different but Lowe apart a few US examples jump out in my interpretation .

    The US AG Sessions seems to have superimposed personal positions as legal policy. Specifically I cite his recent direction to his US Attorney offices that they must implement draconian arrests for arguably minor drug offenses because he wants the system to revert to harsh and imposing sentencing guidelines that will saddle offenders with long jail terms.

    This is a policy which most in the criminal justice system had deemed counter intuitive to reasonable rule of law but one which he holds sacrosanct it seems on a personal level.

    And of course the bold situation where the Pres of the US loudly used incendiary terms re Islam as a candidate and today one wonders if he can let his words match the occasion in Saudia Arabia.

    Like

  4. George C. Brathwaite May 21, 2017 at 8:25 AM #

    @ Jeff

    Truly enjoyed the read. These days, the simplest of words have me double checking
    , but I do sliver towards freedom of expression without unnecessary creativity. Less comfortable, and as Caswell and David may have suggested, error or ignorance?

    Like

  5. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 8:30 AM #

    trump called the Saudis terrorists, said they are responsible for 9/11 and sponsoring terrorism, which we all know, but is today prostrate before the same Saudis, curtsying, taking gifts from them and signing a billion dollar arms deal to create more terrirism, more killing of innocents, more death and destruction.

    Do we need anymore proof than that in whatever language, that politicians and leaders cannot be trusted.

    Foghorn leghorn aka Jeff Sessions is the worst type of hypocrite, racist and criminal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. David May 21, 2017 at 9:02 AM #

    @Dee Word

    Your responses are so predictable, it has been happening for years so what.

    Like

  7. Jeff Cumberbatch May 21, 2017 at 9:28 AM #

    @ BU, I am not at all partial to the view that these errors are owed to mere carelessness. Their high incidence frequently in a single script (and consistently so over the past decade) indicates that the problem may be systemic.

    Yet, as Caswell rightly states, many of them would have passed CXC English with a mark of distinction. I suspect that these missteps are deliberately overlooked in a search for content during the assessment process.

    Like

  8. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 9:43 AM #

    http://bit.ly/2qHW9Nb

    Jeff….am not hijacking your article and quite understand it’s frustrating why such simple errors are occurring with UWI students. I noticed in my children that once they entered university, an inertia set in, of course the work load is a whole lot heavier than 6th form pre and post CXC or in any undergrad program.., the psrtyong and social life is more prevalent.

    But..

    It is exhausting to seem to be going to school forever, particularly with low job prospects, high tuition loans etc…it does not exactly instill confidence or excitement.

    I know graduates in North America where it’s taking them up to 4 years to find a job and they have student loans, am sure with Google and social media students at UWI are getting the same info….can see for themselves the direction the country is taking, it is distracting and does not instill confidence.

    In saying that..I do need to ask you if the Barbados Constitution supports and provudes for married couples actively, on a daily basis and in real time working in the cabinet as parliamentarians, ministers, heads of governments.

    Like

  9. Jeff Cumberbatch May 21, 2017 at 9:50 AM #

    @WW&COB,

    I am certainly not aware of any such restriction in law. At the same time, there is no express provision supporting it. Are you suggesting that there should be one way or the other?

    Like

  10. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 9:50 AM #

    http://bit.ly/2qHW9Nb

    I am watching this play out, maybe it will be a lession for those blacks who protect the status quo against and to the detriment of their own people, spending their lives protecting those who care very little for them….as trusted house negros.

    Let’s see what they do with this dude, in my opinion, his take down will be monumental.

    Like

  11. Alvin Cummins May 21, 2017 at 9:53 AM #

    Jeff,
    You are “telling it like it is”. And it needs to be told. How many English teachers from second form teach such things as:”parsing” sentence structure, and above all Dictation, which row children should be good at from before the 11 plus exam. I cringe at the many times I have read what our reporters are writing in our news journals, and wonder if they still have, and use, proof readers. If they don’t they need to hire.
    George;
    be careful. According to you “… I do sliver towards freedom of expression …”.
    Do yo really? Shouldn’t you “slither” toward…?
    Well Well,
    Have you not learned yet that Trump is a Fraud, a hypocrite, a bigot, and a crook? I will bet you that he keeps that chain whenever he leaves the White House. He may not realize that those sorts of gifts have to be left there when the incumbent leaves office. After his comments, before and after he entered the White House, he will do and say anything to be able to say “jobs! Jobs! Jobs!. He is not interested in how many innocents are killed, by whatever means necessary, “to put America first”. That hypocrisy has never stopped from the time the “pilgrims came to America, and on the way propounded the “Doctrine of Manifest Destiny”, up to today.

    Like

  12. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 10:03 AM #

    No suggestions yet Jeff, but knowing the history of such arrangements where companies avoid like the plague, hiring married couples in the same departments, same buildings and more often than not in the same companies worldwide…because of the negative fallout that occurs even in famiky owned businesses …

    I am wary about Grenville and his Solutions Barbados having a married couple, the Chalbauds, hope I got the spelling right, as candidates in his political party, with the potential and Grenville’s hope that they will be elected as cabinet ministers, if he is elected….we only found out about it this week and he has since invited other married couples to join the fray, a line up of married couples in parliament…he hopes…….that does not even happen in the very modern thinking, industrialized countries.

    What I am hoping is that it is legal and is not another recipe for more disaster to be visited on the majority population, seeing that the population is fed up enough of DBLP that they might just rush headlong and elect just anyone without thinking of the blowback.

    Like

  13. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 10:11 AM #

    That slick trick will backfire on trump Alvin.

    Like

  14. de pedantic Dribbler May 21, 2017 at 10:19 AM #

    @David at 9:02 AM …Alas I once again respond to you with ‘on the contrary’.

    As an editor of a very varied and topical blog over these many years I am truly amused that you so simplistically interpret my remarks as predictably advising that “it has been happening for years so what”.

    What the Dean identified and what Caswel noted has been the case since I left secondary school. As far as I know there was a ‘Use of English’ or some such course that in blunt terms was there to fill in the gaps in students’ grammar and English comprehension.

    What the US colleges succinctly call ‘remedial classes’. I earned some cash doing some tutoring in that sphere decades ago…so let’s get real here.

    The statement Jeff made above that ” [he suspects] that these missteps are deliberately overlooked in a search for content during the assessment process” is his diplomatic style of narrative.

    Whether in BIM or otherwise there was a very widespread move in that direction..the entire Ebonics debate, for example, as a more widely accepted form of communication is founded in that context.

    So this is always about putting things in context and as you said yesterday adapting to the dynamic issues of life and using historical moorings or guidepost to help light the way forward.

    You are an astute person so please focus that keen perception properly.

    Or as the old saw says: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

    Are you really propagating a self-defeating, and frankly unacceptable, wasteful ignorance to dismiss the facts of history as we PUSH FORWARD to FIND the needed resolutions.

    I think not!

    Like

  15. Jeff Cumberbatch May 21, 2017 at 10:21 AM #

    @Well, Well, the phenomenon is not unknown in the region. Was not Patrick Manning’s wife a member of his last Cabinet? And Dr Cheddi Jagan’s wife in Guyana similarly some years ago?

    Like

  16. David May 21, 2017 at 10:25 AM #

    @Dee Word

    Perhaps you are the one being simplistic. The issue is not about if these errors are not new and therefore explains remedial classes from time immemorial. It is whether the occurrences of the carelessness OR ignorance are on the increase and therefore compromising the quality of output as it relates to the use of the language.

    capiche?

    Like

  17. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 10:25 AM #

    We all remember things did not work out so well for Patrick Manning, the people ended up stoning him.

    With Jagan….Guyana did not recover, not even when his wife took over presidency for a short time.

    There is no precedent that shows any success wuth these arrangements.

    Like

  18. Exclaimer May 21, 2017 at 10:31 AM #

    @ Jeff,

    There are several ways to skin a cat. What is the best method to educate a pupil? One cap should never be used to fit all.

    You boys in the Caribbean need to show more imagination. But what do i know?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/magazine-39980194/a-music-producer-helps-his-son-tackle-his-exams

    Like

  19. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 10:31 AM #

    “Nicolae Ceaușescu (left), President of the Socialist Republic of Romania since 1974 (and leader of the country since 1965), and his wife Elena Ceaușescu (right), were executed following a show trial on 25 December 1989.”

    Jeff…there was the Romanian president,, but both him and his wife were executed.

    Like

  20. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 10:41 AM #

    This is what I found on political husband wife dynasties. ..they do not end well.

    “Juan Domingo Peron and Isabel Peron, in Argentina, in the mid 1970s… He was president, she was Vice President. He died while in office, so she became President.

    It was a pretty awful time. I was a kid, but I remember she made speeches at the most inopportune times (cutting off movies I wanted to watch – TV was controlled by the state) and she would cry in them… oh man.

    6
    In many of the following cases, all after WWII, wives followed husband in a similar position of power (may not be the same title), but there are even more examples in the more general sense of close relative following close relative. In ALL cases, to the best of my memory, they resulted from, or advanced corruption of their respective political systems. In many cases the results were catastrophic. One could conclude that dynasties corrupt political systems either because a ruling class fosters cronism or because the cronies of the first leader elect the second to retain their position.

    Juan and Isabel Peron in Argentina in the 70’s (husband and wife)

    Kirchners in Argentina in 2000’s (husband and wife)

    The Aquinos in the Philippines (husband would have been president if not assassinated, Corazon, the wife, became President, her son became President too)

    Nehru and Gandhi in India (Mother Indira Gandhi followed her father (Nehru) and son Sanjay virtually ran the country under her administration)

    GHW Bush and GW Bush in the US (father and son)

    Mandela in South Africa (husband and wife controlled the ANC gorvernment)

    Imelda Marcos Governor while husband Ferdinand was President

    Beware political dynasties was good advice for ancient Rome and still is today. Of course there is the risk of passing up on a genius leader along the way, but history would show it to be well justified to avoid the risk of walking into dynastic politics which are never dislodged without a violent upheaval.”

    Like

  21. de pedantic Dribbler May 21, 2017 at 10:46 AM #

    Sorry senor, not capiche!

    There can be no argument whether “carelessness OR ignorance are on the increase”. Of course it is. It is pervasive, David. Youth actually believe that social media jargon is acceptable speech beyond the net.

    As Jeff alludes to, what is right in fact becomes its widespread ‘acceptance’ and not its traditional accuracy.

    We are not on different sides of this debate in fact. I simply take issue with your characterization of commentaries that bring sharp attention to historical moorings as being wrong-headed and tiresome to fixing the problem.

    We can only solve our issues by getting to the core..and based on the reams of scholarly words written on this language debate and a key thrust of Jeff’s piece the question really becomes how soon will this form of writing become the normative value for communication.

    And to Jeff’s ‘ “council” for “counsel” ‘ he could have added the US President’s repeated use of ‘councel’ for counsel.

    ” Until it changes, as perhaps, given the historical development of the language, it will…”

    That’s a profound mouthful … that change may be sooner rather than later…it seems impossible to get large swathes of youth now weaned on net-shorthand to refocus to traditional English…even for official documents!

    Like

  22. David May 21, 2017 at 10:49 AM #

    @Dee Word

    And yes you are correct how we differ, the historical mooring is irrelevant. Social media now affords the opportunity to expose these issues in a way hitherto not seen. We must take advantage NOW, TODAY, STRIKE!

    Like

  23. Sargeant May 21, 2017 at 10:51 AM #

    @Jeff

    When a primary means of communication is the use of 140 characters or less something will be jettisoned in the transition. When the so – called leader of the “free” world commits grammatical errors in his communication no one batts an eye, as to his mangling of language the less said the better. This forgiveness is not extended to what is commonly called “Ebonics” by the Johnny come lately William Safires of the digital age. ( Perhaps we can consider Trumponics as a new age word- can I have a patent on that?)

    So, have a little mercy on the students under your watch, hopefully their content is much more illuminating than their delivery.

    Like

  24. de pedantic Dribbler May 21, 2017 at 11:08 AM #

    How David??? Social media is an excellent communication tool. Can you please clarify for me how it allows one to ‘strike’ to rectify this particular problem for example unless one is AWARE of the issues to be struck!

    None of these issues are new. Social media simply brings them to the fore with greater force and immediacy.

    There is a book (which I have not read) but the title of which I believe captures your mindset perfectly. It’s called the ‘The Death of Expertise’.

    As I understand from a review I heard it speaks directly to your perspective that this readily available internet data infuses us with all the tools to ‘strike today’. We are all experts!

    I wish you well in that reasoning senor.

    I may use the net to gather the data – historical and otherwise – craft a solution and then go forth.

    But someone can just as easily refute everything I say and just as easily disseminate that counter-narrative to foil my assertions. That appears to be lost on you senor!

    The net will save us…yeah….just after DPRK and like minded actors uses it to corrupt all our systems and ‘blow’ them up!

    Like

  25. William Skinner May 21, 2017 at 11:10 AM #

    Very interesting . A few months ago , we had regular contributors to BU denouncing the language and deliberately engaging in using expletives and other vulgarities. They argued that positions such as the one taken by Jeff were pure heresy. Since they seem to hold Jeff in considerable esteem, I am hoping to see them comment on his column.

    Like

  26. David May 21, 2017 at 11:16 AM #

    @Dee Word

    At the risk of being pedantic what social media does is to include wider participation awareness that will hopefully act as a spring board to wrestle the issues. Where has BU stated that the problems are new? There comes a point shall we call it ‘tipping point’ when all that has gone in the past serves to create a greater urgency in the present.

    Like

  27. de pedantic Dribbler May 21, 2017 at 11:34 AM #

    Not a thing wrong with being pedantic. LOL.

    In total agreement with you @11:16 AM. As a coms tool social media is devastatingly good re “wider participation awareness”. Yet it’s a two-edged sword that can be deadly on the up and down!

    One last point on this. Recently I read that the head of the NAACP did not have his contract renewed. Part of the problem it seems was supposedly lack of appeal vis-a-vis the ‘Black Lives Mater’ movement. That was interesting….and his stewardship too speaks to social media as a a tool.

    But its BLM that I want to speak to. Even in BIM I am sure that people have a strong perspective of their impact over 2016…all as a result of social media.

    YET, the counter-narrative by police affiliated groups has also been virulently strong and folks like Trump rode that ‘reactionary’ argument to success with a base that saw BLM in a very negative way.

    The point. We agree on the power of the net. The fight never ceases as after recognition successes is less clear. That ‘urgency’ beckons!

    Anyhow, good palaver. I gone.

    Like

  28. David May 21, 2017 at 11:45 AM #

    There is good and bad to any thing. It will always be about the degree to which the problem can be arrested that it minimizes the downside. Social media will assit in this regard, no more hiding of the issues. Do you believe in 2017 a national sports policy is now being circulated to stakeholders for comment? The importance of such a policy to what we are discussing is obvious.

    Like

  29. Sargeant May 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM #

    Just found out “Trumponics” is already out there, back to the drawing board

    Like

  30. Hal Austin May 21, 2017 at 12:31 PM #

    It is important to separate what is regular use of English from what is ‘correct’ use of the language. There is a fundamental difference in usage – and spelling – between English English and American and Australian English. I usually find US television English comical, yet this is treated differently to say Jamaican English. In reality they should both have the same status.
    English is a ‘living’ language and, as Oliver Kamm tells us, how the speakers of the language choose to use the language is the ‘correct’ form.
    In British journalism we tend to use HW Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, which had its origins in Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language as the Bible.
    Sir Harold Evans, the doyen of English for journalism, has just brought out a new title, Do I Make Myself Clear, which has already been heavily criticised.
    But be wary of experts: Steven Pinker is not a linguist, but his The Sense of Style is one of the best books on the language in years. It is for this reason that every major publishing house has its own style guide, for which its writers, editors and sub-editors must adhere. Some are so interesting that they become publications in their own right.
    Is it just style or ‘correct’ grammar to use active or passive verbs? Then there is the popular use of less and fewer. I prefer fewer with count nouns and less with mass nouns: fewer apples and less tea. But which is really correct? No one says fewer tea, although they would fewer cups of tea. In spoken English in London we have developed Estuary English (listen to Ken Livingstone the politician) which has largely replaced cockney. It is basically the language of educated working class people. Are these styles or ‘correct’ use of the language. And how do they differ from the perceived BBC received pronunciation, which itself is regularly broken by the corporation’s own staff?
    There are other problems with the use of language that should concern us. Recently the Nation headlined a story on Trinidad re-establishing a diplomatic presence in Barbados as re-creating an ’embassy’ although in the body of the story they got it right and stated it was a high commission.
    In the old days we had a subject called British Constitution (we can call a new version Barbados Constitution) in which citizens are taught how we are governed. Such basic mistakes are more degrading than the confusion of the third person of the verb to take with the first or second person (I takes it out; or you takes it out) with the misuse of Commonwealth countries have high commissions, foreign nations have embassies.
    But go back to the birth of language: babies learn to speak a language without understanding what is a verb, a noun or an adjective, or the present or past tense. This is an important part of child development and is frequently tested. Language (and accents) is learned behaviour (or behavior), but there is no right or wrong.
    I suggest you read David Crystal’s Spell it Out and Making a Point for two good books on English grammar.
    Finally, is Bajan more correct than Trinidadian, or Jamaican, or Guyanese English? Be careful of experts. Those who use language as tools of their trade never claims accuracy or expertise; they stick to the style manual.

    .

    Like

  31. George C. Brathwaite May 21, 2017 at 12:37 PM #

    @ Exclaimer

    You wrote: “You boys in the Caribbean need to show more imagination. But what do i know?”

    Having taught in the UK’s university system, I can say without a doubt that similar issues have been observed and complained about. Surely Barbados or the Caribbean are not peculiar with the challenges of writing and communicating effectively. Let us take Jeff’s insights and seek to address the issues here, but it is a bit foolhardy in my opinion to suggest that the problems are only resident here.

    Like

  32. David May 21, 2017 at 12:44 PM #

    @George

    Surely as discussed with Dee Word it is the degree of grammar decay we are experiencing that maybe symptomatic of a dysfunctional education system rather than a straight Barbados to UK?

    Like

  33. George C. Brathwaite May 21, 2017 at 12:51 PM #

    @ David
    I do not disagree. My point was specific to the comment made by Exclaimer. I concur that there are challenges in the system and the quicker these are addressed, the more likely it would be to reach acceptable standards. Language like society is a dynamic.

    Like

  34. David May 21, 2017 at 1:03 PM #

    @George

    We have the experienced law lecturer positing a view. The point was made that many of those being commented on likely earned 1s and 2s. Before we rush ahead to discuss the language as dynamic the evaluation and performance measurement professionals need to weigh in on the subject.

    Like

  35. George C. Brathwaite May 21, 2017 at 1:10 PM #

    @ David

    Exactly. That is why it is necessary to recognise a systemic problem that is not necessarily peculiar to Barbados or the Caribbean. Nonetheless, Jeff’s insights are on point and perhaps it is why he made reference to the development of language. I give way to you sir.

    Like

  36. David May 21, 2017 at 1:16 PM #

    Not sure where Jeff references the development of language but…

    Like

  37. George C. Brathwaite May 21, 2017 at 1:31 PM #

    @ David

    “For those communications of a more formal nature, such as court documents, examination scripts and general public addresses, there is a tried and tested cannon. Until it changes, as perhaps, given the historical development of the language, it will, you should use it.” But I take the point that you are making and I am sure that we are not dissimilar in outlook.

    Like

  38. peterlawrencethompson May 21, 2017 at 3:45 PM #

    Like Jeff, I mourn the loss of clear writing and correct grammar. I have learned to restrain myself from correcting those around me, whether in face to face conversation or on internet forums (I know it SHOULD be fora, but even the Oxford dictionary says forums these days).

    The big problem is, of course, that sloppy use of language is often a symptom of sloppy thinking; it is the sloppy thinking that hurts the most.

    However, it is difficult to spare tears for the undergraduates at UWI when the most powerful politician in the world is quoted as follows:
    PRESIDENT TRUMP (4/12/17): Well, I want to just start by saying hopefully they’re going to have to fear nothing, ultimately. Right now there is a fear, and there are problems — there are certainly problems. But ultimately, I hope that there won’t be a fear and there won’t be problems, and the world can get along. That would be the ideal situation.

    It’s crazy what’s going on — whether it’s the Middle East or you look at — no matter where the — Ukraine — you look at — whatever you look at, it’s got problems, so many problems. And ultimately, I believe that we are going to get rid of most of those problems, and there won’t be fear of anybody. That’s the way it should be.

    We have a very big problem in North Korea. And, as I said, I really think that China is going to try very hard, and has already started. A lot of the coal boats have already been turned back — you saw that yesterday and today — they’ve been turned back. The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they’ve turned back the boats. That’s a big step, and they have many other steps that I know about.

    So we’ll see what happens. It may be effective, it may not be effective. If it’s not effective, we will be effective, I can promise you that. Thank you.

    Like

  39. peterlawrencethompson May 21, 2017 at 3:47 PM #

    http://assets.amuniversal.com/73e6fe60062e01359326005056a9545d

    Like

  40. Hal Austin May 21, 2017 at 4:04 PM #

    Peter,
    You have fallen in to the trap of ‘correct’ grammar. Is the plural of forum forums? Churchill would have said forums, good old Anglo-Saxon, classicists would say fora, from the Latin plural of forum.
    Sloppy use of language reflects sloppy thinking. Really? I have heard some of the most erudite language used to explain the most bogus of arguments.
    Beware of experts. Language is about communicating; if the other person understands then you have communicated.
    Is tabloid grammar better than broadsheet grammar? Some of the most idiotic of drafted documents are legal documents. Journalists too have no monopoly of the use of language.
    My favourite (favorite) is Americans inability to understand the English language, for the simple that it is a mixture of English English and a number of Latin American and Eastern European languages. Stop using |US spell checks.
    A few months ago I bought a new Latin dictionary for no real reason than that it was going cheaply ad I was in the bookshop. Latin has not changed for hundreds of years. English is a living language.
    Claims to speak ‘correct’ grammar (grammer) is just another way of introducing a class division in the use of the language. In the UK, if you have the ‘correct’ upper class accent you could be illiterate people still think you are well educated.
    I should know. I sat at the FT with public school and Oxbridge fools who were so thick they did not know they could not speak the Queen’s English.

    Like

  41. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 5:57 PM #

    Lol…nothing trump says makes sense, mi heard him give a nonsensical speech in the 70s or 80s and the airhead blonde who interviewed him told him how intelligent he sounded and had he ever thought about becoming president, well nearly 40 years later, the idiot is president and still cant string an intelligent sentence together.

    Have ya not noticed that many of today’s politicians are just a nitch above or below semiliterate and that is despite having degrees. Standards have fallen worldwide.

    They used to have to beg Bush not to give any speeches and he attended Yale..lol

    Like

  42. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 21, 2017 at 6:01 PM #

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/human-trafficking-slavery-a7743816.html

    Caribbean people need to be very alert. Forget the politicians and ministers and self serving idiots…watch your own asses.

    Like

  43. Bernard Codrington. May 21, 2017 at 10:29 PM #

    I can sympathize with Jeff with respect to scripts not written in standard English. It slows down the process in grading. His profession depends on communication of ideas and arguments so shoddy language should not obscure the meaning.
    However, are not laws drafted with out punctuation so that a clever lawyer could argue about the intention of the lawmakers. The students are just going one step further so that Jeff may give them the benefit of the doubt and pass them on the basis of what they intended to write?????

    Like

  44. Bush Tea May 22, 2017 at 7:34 AM #

    @ Bernard
    Despite Jeff’s protestations, you done know that 98.8% of these students will pass the exams and go on to become ‘lawyers’ etc – whose quality will likely be reflective of their grammar.

    Based on the FACT that Barbadians have been displaced for management /ownership / decision-making positions by foreigners IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY, it must surely be obvious that we are not the sharpest nails in the box.
    How then, …it is possible to have ‘almost-free’ education; easy admission to UWI; AND to have such phenomenal ‘pass’ rates? …this can only be explained in one way….

    Most REAL universities are highly expensive, hell to gain admission, AND have notoriously high failure rates… ensuring that those who succeed actually represent QUALITY….

    Based on a casual look at the performance of our graduates across the board, it is clear that OUR focus in on producing a ‘graduate’ for every home…. quantity over quality.

    In such circumstances, why would a Bajan student (even one who has outstanding potential) bother to ‘dig -deep’ to bring out the very best of him/her self? ….when any shiite goes…?

    @ Jeff
    Here is an idea…
    Rather than lower your standards to accepting such inferior scripts, why not fail the lot of jokers who do not meet your expectations?
    …you can BET that next semester there would be a MAJOR resurgence of quality scripts…

    Cheap thing no good.
    Good thing no cheap.

    Like

  45. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 22, 2017 at 8:02 AM #

    If this does not cure the brainwashed from believing anything deceitful politicians, prime ministers or presidents say, nothing will.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-muslim-speech-a7747856.html

    “So after inventing “fake news”, America’s crazed President on Sunday gave the world’s Muslims a fake speech. Donald Trump said he was not in Saudi Arabia to “lecture” – but then told the world’s Islamic preachers what to say, condemned “Islamist terrorism” as if violence was a solely Muslim phenomenon and then announced like an Old Testament prophet that he was in “a battle between good and evil”. There were no words of compassion, none of mercy, absolutely not a word of apology for his racist, anti-Muslim speeches of last year.

    Even more incredibly, he blamed Iran – rather than Isis – for “fuelling sectarian violence”, pitied the Iranian people for their “despair” a day after they had freely elected a liberal reformer as their president, and demanded the further isolation of the largest Shiite country in the Middle East. The regime responsible for “so much instability” is Iran. The Shiite Hezbollah were condemned. So were the Shiite Yemenis. Trump’s Sunni Saudi hosts glowed with warmth at such wisdom.

    And this was billed by CNN as a “reset” speech with the Muslim world. For “reset”, read “repair”, but Trump’s Sunday diatribe in Riyadh was in fact neither a “reset” nor a “repair”. It was the lecture he claimed he would not give.

    “Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith,” he announced, utterly ignoring – as he had to – the fact that Saudi Arabia, not Iran, is the fountainhead of the very Wahhabi Salafist extremism whose “terrorists” murder “innocent people”.

    ch
    He tried to avoid his old racist “radical Islamic extremist” mantra and tried to replace it with “Islamist extremism” but he apparently fluffed his words and said “Islamic” as well. The subtle difference he was trying to make in English was thus for Muslims no more than a variation on a theme: terrorists are Muslims.

    All this, let us remember, came after Trump had sewn up yet another outrageous arms deal with the Saudis ($110bn or £84.4bn) and the proposed purchase by Qatar of what Trump obscenely referred to as “a lot of beautiful military equipment”. It seems almost fantastical that he should make such a remark only two days before meeting the Pope who in Cairo two weeks ago railed along with the Muslim Sheikh of Al Azhar against the evil of arms dealers. “

    Like

  46. Hal Austin May 22, 2017 at 9:19 AM #

    Now that we have exhausted everything we have so say about Trumpism in these small islands – cutting and pasting can only go so far – is it not time we discussed the issues raised last week in the Nation by Collin Constantine, about inequality in Barbados. Neither of the two dominant parties discuss inequality, nor has the emerging ones.
    The one-dimensionality of macroeconomics may be appealing but citizens have rounded lives that range from housing, health, education, etc, to the economy. In fact, the economic narrative is so single-minded it is like a one-note samba.
    Education is not just about bad behaviour by children; that is a learned behaviour that they got from the equally badly behaved teachers, their parents and from our civic and political leaders. Who among them can condemn the children? The BSTU, a band of renegades that should all be held in preventative detention?

    Like

  47. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 22, 2017 at 12:24 PM #

    Ha, Ha Austin….what are you gojng to do besides talk about the inequality in black majority Barbados. ..that subject has also been exhausted…talking is not enough….action is now called for…

    So Action Austin….what are you going to do.

    Like

  48. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 22, 2017 at 12:25 PM #

    The floor is yours Action Austin…everyone is open to your plans that can be started tomorrow.

    Like

  49. Vincent Haynes May 22, 2017 at 12:47 PM #

    ……………….I note in passing, with some alarm, that the spellcheck on my desktop is not even signaling that these are incorrect, but I digress. Sic transit gloria, I assume………….
    ………………………………………………………………………………..

    Even the the computer programmes are conspiring with the transitioning of the english language as we once knew it.

    The again the computer does ask you to state your english preference be it…..English(standard)(caribbean)(US),etc,etc..

    Life was so much simpler in my deceased fathers era of the first decades of the 1900s,when a 7th standard boy from a rural school could use,speak and write impeccably the Kings English.

    Like

  50. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 22, 2017 at 1:31 PM #

    Ah thought so…Action Austin just likes a lot of long winded talk that can bear no fruit…….love to see his own post filled with hot air that contributes nothing sensible.

    Ya may as well start cutting and pasting……lots of informative articles out there from real journalists.

    I found something recently that I did not even know existed, it was recently created……ya better get out of the 50s and 60s….it’s 2017.

    Like

  51. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 23, 2017 at 7:03 AM #

    https://www.barbadostoday.bb/2017/05/22/low-interest-rates-stifling-wealth-generation/

    What is wrong with Mia, both governments have over the decades refused to rein in, regulate these companies or to lock up CEOs and GMs of insurance companies who steal from bajans because they are their friends and business partners…..now she comes up with this crap…instead of saying her government will make it easier for black bajans to conduct business on the island, therefore having new areas to invest all that money…..why allow insurance companies to continue stealing from bajans,.

    Has she not noticed that one insurance company owner used his online newspaper this week to expose an insurance company that is abusing injured claimants while the same insurance company owner continues to do the same….if Mia wants voters to have confidence in her, she needs to open her eyes to reality, stop pretending all is well with insurance companies and get serious.

    ‘Low interest rates stifling wealth generation’
    Added by Marlon Madden on May 22, 2017.
    Saved under Local News
    0
    Bothered by the low interest rates being offered by commercial banks, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is challenging insurance companies to come up with new instruments in which the financial institutions can invest.

    “The commercial banks have sent enough messages to us that they are prepared to shift their presence because the region is not giving them the returns that it gave them for the last century. Now, how do entities that live with us for 100 years start to make decisions to find other regions attractive all of a sudden? It is because we are not performing at the levels we ought to be performing.”

    Like

  52. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger May 23, 2017 at 8:15 AM #

    It’s amazig the crap politicians are allowed to get away with  on the island, like not many people are paying attention to their own or children and future generation’s welfare and wellbeing.

    Here is Mia pretending that CLICO never presented the bajan public and business people with fraud instruments of investment just recently, causing untold misery on pensioners and the elderly, who are yet to receive their money, nearly 10 years later, many died while  waiting….but here is Mia inviting the same unregulated by both governments insurance companies, challenging them to invent new instruments of insurance to commit the same offenses against the people all over again. Without even thinking that there is anither and better way fir businesses and the populationto invest that over abundance of cash. 

    Dont these new insurance instruments first have to be approved by insurancorrectlators and removed if found to be fraudulent…what has been done since CLICO to cirrect this and prevent a recurrence of thefts from policyholders and instrument  holders.

    Insurance is not the only or best investment.

    Like

  53. Hants May 26, 2017 at 8:11 AM #

    She mussee a Bajan. lol

    “A judge with a history of releasing reasons for judgment years late was reprimanded by Ontario’s top court Thursday for “frustrat(ing) the proper administration of justice.”

    This time, it resulted in the court ordering a new trial for a case involving serious allegations of domestic and sexual violence.”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2017/05/25/ontarios-top-court-reprimands-judge-for-frustrating-administration-of-justice.html

    Like

  54. Hal Austin May 26, 2017 at 8:22 AM #

    I see attorney general Adriel Brathwaite is condemning the terrorist bombing in Manchester. But what is he doing to protect Barbadian people. He should not that the bomber was born in Britain. We have lots of Barbados-born Muslims, are we safe? We are incubating bombers in Barbados, just as they are in Trinidad and Guyana.

    Like

  55. Vincent Haynes May 26, 2017 at 10:39 AM #

    Hal

    Does Muslim equate to terrorist bomber?

    Presently the police in Manchester are looking at another reason for the bombing totally unconnected to the Jihadis whom he was known to have fought against.

    All ethnic groups have deviant members within them,whose solution to perceived injustice is anti-social behaviour that can include suicide bombing but not seeking 77 virgins.

    Like

  56. Hal Austin May 26, 2017 at 10:59 AM #

    Vincent,

    Wahhabism is based on terrorism, it is the drive towards a Caliphate. Some people are bombers while others are apologists for the bombers. Silence from the majority is consent. Do we know how many local Muslims go to Saudi Arabia for whatever reason? We do know that Trinidadians go and Guyanese. I think it is a fair assumption that they all are in contact.
    Our security services cannot sit back and keep their fingers crossed that we have angels as Muslims; they must be pro-active. Do you read the Muslim column in Barbados Today? If you do plse note the use of language. It is an art of avoidance.
    Listen to the outpourings after every atrocity: that the bombers are not true Muslims, that they are outsiders, misread the Koran, etc.
    We must be precautionary.

    Like

  57. Vincent Haynes May 26, 2017 at 11:30 AM #

    Hal

    The same way we have may christian sects and cults with extreme ones like the Jim Jones and the Waco texas ones.

    Muslim is primarily made up of Shia and Sunni with many fringe groups like the christians,one of the fundamentalist ones is the Wahhabee sect out of Saudi Arabia whose primary goal is as you rightly stated the re-establishment of the Caliphate.Note that Trump has just signed a Billions of dollar deal with them,the birth country of Osama.

    I see nothing wrong with the Bim group distancing themselves from this radical bunch,who at the end of the day are indirectly funded by the USA.

    Like

  58. lawson May 26, 2017 at 11:53 AM #

    one manchester on any island and tourism is dead, better be well ahead of the curve or have a exit strategy. The islands should make any people of interest known to all

    Like

  59. Hal Austin May 26, 2017 at 12:05 PM #

    Vincent,
    All it takes is one person radicalised through the internet to set off a bomb or smuggle an AK47 in one of those big containers and start shooting on any beach. Whatever you say we must take precautionary action.
    .

    Like

  60. Vincent Haynes May 26, 2017 at 12:33 PM #

    Hal

    I agree with your statement with omissions above as follows…….

    All it takes is one person to set off a bomb or smuggle an AK47 in one of those big containers and start shooting on any beach.

    I have read in the papers here of more than one AK47 being smuggled in the back of TVs and in barrells…..these are ones that have been caught and we know that only roughly 10% are caught……note these importers were all non-Muslims.

    My point is that crazies exist in all communities and we must be vigilant at all times.

    Like

  61. Hal Austin May 26, 2017 at 12:38 PM #

    Of course there are crazies in every community. But the big threat to global peace are Jihadists and Barbados is not excluded..

    Like

  62. Vincent Haynes May 26, 2017 at 12:47 PM #

    Hal

    A bunch of crazies have decided to do some brutal killings in the middle east and europe…….note Isreal is left alone which also happens to be in deals with Saudi Arabia……calling themselves all sorts of names including Jihadist which is no different to the Crusader name back then and the west has latched onto it and endowed it with some superhuman meaning. The same west that supports the Saudis, home of these crazies.

    We agree on eternal vigilance irrespective wherever the threat comes from.

    Like

  63. millertheanunnaki May 26, 2017 at 12:58 PM #

    @ Hal Austin May 26, 2017 at 12:38 PM
    “Of course there are crazies in every community. But the big threat to global peace are Jihadists”

    Not only the jihadists but also those who sponsor them financially like the Saudis in order to buy the weapons and bomb-making equipment and detonating materials from those ‘well-respected’ arms manufacturing concerns in the West, Russia and China.

    Like

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