What is wrong with GMA-7? Not a day ends that it doesn't remind us it's the number 1 TV network in the country. Its shows are ratings hits, its coffers are presumably bulging from all those ads, it pays its contract stars and network anchors plush salaries, it recently inaugurated a spanking-new, 900-million-peso building to punctuate all that high-flying success.
And yet it can't hire one decent copywriter or editor to check the blurbs it runs on TV?
I'm beginning to think that the network is in the thick of a clandestine campaign to redefine the rules of English grammar. How to account, after all, for its nonchalant and sustained mangling of the language, with nobody from its army of power executives and creative bright lights seeming to be bothered to correct the boo-boos?
In June 2008, I noted its use of the ungrammatical program ID “Pablo Gomez' Magdusa Ka.” Where the possessive S went, nobody knew. The wayward apostrophe reappears in Shake, Rattle & Roll's “Now on it's second week.” And when the movie Scaregivers was shown a couple of months back, it came with the tagline, “Now showing on theaters nationwide.”
At this point, let me anticipate something: As surely as a carnival seal will begin dancing at the flick of its handler's hand, some idiot will post a comment at the end of this piece denouncing me for being a “grammar police.” Well, what of it? Let's examine that argument. What's a grammar cop, anyway? Someone who's persnickety about verb agreements and tenses to the point of unreasonableness? Someone who obsesses about the lack of verbal polish to the exclusion of everything else?
Call me a grammar cop if, say, I laugh at your ungrammatical blog posts without any provocation, or I point out the mistakes in how you say something rather than acknowledging the basic valid point of what you're saying.
I've never done that, though. If you're writing for your own space and pleasure, far be it for me to mock you for your deficiencies in the English language, whatever they are. That's your call--though, to be fair, if you can't tell the difference between It's and Its, I don't think you should expect to be understood clearly by everyone every time.
At its most basic, grammar is about communicating clearly. Mess it up, and you mess up not only your message, but also the mind of the poor chap you're talking to.
But we're not talking here of blogs or personal journals, where you can eviscerate grammar to your heart's content and no one would care--least of all Mr. Grammar Police here. We're talking of the number 1 TV station in the country. We're talking of a network whose reach and influence covers millions of viewers here and even abroad--an ocean of impressionable minds who, lamentable a development as it is, get much of their daily practical learning from TV.
Not only are they gorging on vapid, insipid TV shows now, they're also reading badly-written blurbs! Which, because they're punchier and shorter, tend to stick to the mind more easily. And which, not knowing any better, viewers will then repeat down the line.
This is not just a question of sticking to the rules of grammar. This is about the implications of how we use language. Words have meaning. Words have consequences. If GMA-7 is this sloppy when it comes to basic copywriting, where else is it slapdash and careless? In its news gathering and dissemination? In its professed fidelity to truth-telling? In its claims to honest ratings and fair competition? Screw any aspirations to excellence, then, anyway “its” all the same banana?
As for the sadly ill-informed who thinks getting worked up over apostrophes and prepositions on TV is much ado about nothing, I have a challenge for him or her: Personal pronouns, too, are part of grammar. You know, words like He, She and It--He and She referring to human beings, It to non-human beings or things, or so the rule goes.
If grammar is that unimportant to him or her--and, I repeat, the use of pronouns, too, is part of grammar--then let's disregard the rules from now on and start using It when referring to that person. Not He or She, but It--anyway, why follow the rules? Down with grammar! Let's, in effect, put him or her on the same level as a plant, a rock, a fly. That simple. Any takers?