Tue, 10 Oct 2000

An overview of the Post

There was a duplication of your news item on "City agency planning to lower car parking levy" in The Jakarta Post of Oct. 6, 2000. This news report was printed side by side and shouldn't have missed your attention.

A similar duplication was noticed in the Oct. 9 edition on pages 10 and 12 on Singapore's new airport terminal designed for A3XX.

In your reporting, you have also been consistent in "inking" rather than "signing" the treaties. "Kick off" and not "start" a meeting is another expression often found in the Post. One thing is for sure -- you would never "lose" but only "loose". It was not in my dictionary that these two words have the same meaning.

Your editors, at times, do have a sense of humor. Last month, there was a catchy headline reading Rats overrun Kuching. For a second, I wondered how could it be possible for rats to overrun cats. The news underneath clarified that Kuching, a city in Borneo, Malaysia, was notorious for its rat problems. I was curios to know if the authorities were attempting to deal with the rodents or were they aiming at corruption, collusion and nepotism in the administration. Of course, there weren't any mention about the latter.

There was another headline in the Post, some days ago, which read South Korea won.... I was expecting to read about some sporting event but it turned out to be a comparison between the South Korean currency and the Philippine peso. Certainly, South Korea seem to have "won" the race in recovering from the monetary crisis faster than any other country in the region.

However, I was unable to "digest" South Korea celebrating, last week, their 4333rd anniversary of their National Foundation Day. I haven't heard of any country in the world, including the oldest living civilizations of China and India, being that exact about their official national anniversary.

Some time back, one of the articles in the Post mentioned a "programmatical weakness". It was utterly problematical for us to decipher what this phrase meant. See how people escape responsibility by confusing others.

Euphemisms are defined in the dictionary as gentler or evasive expressions for unpleasant one. For instance, "handicapped" is more kindly to the ears than "crippled". Pensioners are now called "senior citizens", certainly a respectable term. However, euphemisms can also be great cover-ups e.g. "downsizing" for "dismissals", "deficit" for "over-spending", "the down-trodden" for "the poor" etc.

In my previous employment, I used to prepare memos for the marketing division to be forwarded to the finance division for issuing credit notes for uncollectable debts. In one instance, I had suggested, with enough justification, that a certain amount might be written off. The finance division came down heavily, saying: "How come marketing assumed authority to suggest write- offs?"

I realized that "write-off" was a taboo word in financial parlance and promptly withdrew the memo. One week later, I forwarded a reworded version stating that the amount may be "absorbed" by the company. This time, the finance division was gracious enough to accept the credit note. The debt was duly written off later.

Well, that was the time I learnt my first lesson on how to make a "soft landing" in official correspondence. I must admit that I didn't know then that the word "euphemism" existed in English to describe blunt terms mildly.