“The information below” vs “The below information”

I used to think that only Hong Kong people would say ‘the below information’, ‘the below form’, etc. (as opposed to ‘the information below’, ‘the form below’), until I saw ‘the below reference request’ in an email from an organisation in Britain two days ago. I studied the remainder of the email, and it was in perfect English. Hence, I could only conclude that even Brits (or at least this one) are beginning to use ‘below’ as an attributive adjective. I then googled the ‘below-before-noun’ usage. The result? Some native speakers can accept it. The majority still frown on it.

Well, if we can say both ‘the information above’ and ‘the above information’, then by logic, there is no reason why we can’t say ‘the below reference request’. We don’t even have to refer to how dictionaries label the word class of ‘below’ (e.g., preposition, adverb), as the word class of a word can always be extended as a result of popular use.

For now, I can only say that expressions like ‘the below reference’, ‘the below information’, ‘the below form’, etc., still sound unnatural to me. And then the dilemma for ESL teachers who see something like that in their students’ writing is: To correct or not to correct. ..


Summary of 《英該點講》(Proper English Pronunciation) Episodes

In this TV serial programme project launched by SCOLAR (Standing Committee on Language Education and Research) of the Hong Kong Government, I was the ‘proper pronunciation ambassador’. The TV programme was produced by, and aired on, ViuTV (June 29 – Aug 17, 2017),  The TV programme aimed to draw the attention of the general public in Hong Kong to certain tricky issues in the pronunciation of English. 

Summary of 《英該點講(Proper English Pronunciation) Episodes

Episode 1: Pronunciation of Past tense marker


Episode 2: word stress (e.g., triangle, rectangle)


Episode 3: Silent letters (e.g. Beckham; shepherd)


Episode 4: /ei/ and /u:/


Episode 5: /i/ vs /i:/ and schwa in unstressed syllables


Episode 6: wrongly inserted sounds (eg., ‘guidiance’ for ‘guidance’)


Episode 7: ‘th’ sounds in English


Episode 8: Pronunciation of special place names





Webpage on SCOLAR website: http://www.language-education.com/chi/properEnglishpronunciation.asp


Active vs Passive vs Ergative

Looks like it’s becoming a trend to use verbs ergatively:


Facebook: ‘This message failed to send.’ (vs ‘We failed to send your message.)
Amazon: ‘Your order has shipped.’ (vs ‘Your order has been shipped.’)

Windows: ‘Your application is installing.” (vs ‘Your application is now being installed.)


ESL teachers will have an increasingly hard time explaining the use of the Passive Voice.

Gropers as suitors

So, these hilarious translations are REAL! In the past, when I saw pictures of comical English signs in China posted on the Web, I sometimes thought those pictures might be fakes.

A former student sent me a picture of the following signs which she spotted in a recent trip to Dongguan. Now, I’m convinced those crazy English signs did exist.

I tried translating some of the Chinese dish names in the picture with Google Translate and Baidu Translate, which did not return the exact English translations that we’re seeing. This suggests the translator did not fully rely on machine translation, and he/she did exercise his/her own translation judgments. Yet, ……

BTW, for 咸豬手, Google Translate returned “Groping”, which is close to the Cantonese slang meaning, though I don’t understand why Google Translate does not give us the literal translation. Baidu Translate also gives “Groping”, but the translator for the dish name changed it to the more literary “Suitor”. So, now, ‘gropers’ are elevated to ‘suitors’. Interesting, eh?

suitors & other dish names in Dongguan

How to say ‘positive discrimination’ in Chinese?


“積極歧視”想必是英文positive discrimination 繙譯過來,positive discrimination 的確是sociology 和education 常用的術語,它的出現有其社會背景,外國人碰到positive discrimination一詞,不會有歧視的聯想,但直譯為“積極歧視”,意思卻怪怪的。雖然我也沒有好主意,但是一些意念,與其繙譯,不如嘗試在中文中,找出妥貼的說法。

Postscript: Dr June Leung responded: 有人譯作「正向差別待遇」。這個譯法不是完美,但比積極歧視好多了。

“bai san’ vs ‘bai sun’

真有點不好意思,第一反應,竟然是“新開張和拜山有什麼關係?” 再看中文版,才知他們說的是“拜神”。
(Incidentally, ‘bai san’ IS used by some English native speakers to mean ‘honouring the dead’, or like our ‘sweeping the grave’. But we know that拜神, or ‘bai sun’, is a different thing!)bai san highlighted