Friday, August 22, 2008

Bad English...Really Bad! Take the Challenge!

I came home to find a message on my answering machine, part of which I've recorded and you can hear in the video above. So here is my question to all of you...what errors can you hear in the video above? Type your comments below and let's see who gets it right first!

Oh, one more thing. The message on my answering machine was prerecorded, not live. So what excuse is there for bad English when the message was supposedly scripted and recorded?


Steve Howard said...

I hate those silly automatic answer machine things. I hate them more when I have to try to speak to them. Apparently they don't understand my accent ... grrrr

Sally la peste said...

In the first part of the message, since it starts with IF, WERE should be used instead of ARE - So it could be: IF EITHER ONE OF THESE INDIVIDUALS WERE AVAILABLE BUT......
EITHER = one or the other
In the second part of the message they should have used NEITHER
Well, should be something like that, but I know I'm probably wrong, but wanted to try anyway!
your Italian sis

Joe Ganci said...

Nice try, Italian sis, but that's not exactly right. Just like in Italian, the subjunctive in English is used only when the situation is improbable or impossible, so you would not use WERE (the subjunctive) in this case because it's very possible that one of the individuals is home.

OK, so the full text of the message is:

If either of these individuals are available but need a moment to come to the phone, press 3.
If either of these individuals are not available, press 4. To repeat this menu, press the star key.

So let's start with the first sentence. You're right that either means one or the other, which makes it singular, so the sentence should be:

If either of these individuals IS available but needS a moment to come to the phone, press 3.

So there are two mistakes in the above sentence.

The second sentence is more interesting, because if you change the ARE to IS, which would be more correct:

If either of these individuals IS not available, press 4.

it would literally mean if only one of them is home and not the other, press 4.

So you're right that the word either should be neither and that the word not should be eliminated. The word neither, however, is still singular:

If NEITHER of these individuals IS available, press 4.

Guess what? The last sentence is fine!