What's wrong with these signs?

A notice displayed by a shop at Beauty World Centre. "This premises is..." should be "These premises are...". Posters at the Hillion Mall with grammatical errors. They were placed at the entrance of the mall's KidsZone. A spokesman for the mall said
Posters at the Hillion Mall with grammatical errors. They were placed at the entrance of the mall's KidsZone. A spokesman for the mall said the management is aware of the mistakes and that changes are being made. ST PHOTOS: RAYNOLD TOH
In this poster, "premiere" is used incorrectly as it refers to a first performance, and the "is" should be an "are".
In this poster, "premiere" is used incorrectly as it refers to a first performance, and the "is" should be an "are".
A notice displayed by a shop at Beauty World Centre. "This premises is..." should be "These premises are...". Posters at the Hillion Mall with grammatical errors. They were placed at the entrance of the mall's KidsZone. A spokesman for the mall said
A notice displayed by a shop at Beauty World Centre. "This premises is..." should be "These premises are...". ST PHOTOS: RAYNOLD TOH

At the entrance of Hillion Mall's KidsZone in Bukit Panjang, decorated with animated characters in picturesque settings, a poster reads: "Let's start learning!"

But children might leave with the wrong lessons, as some statements made by the characters have grammatical errors.

One statement read: "Jellyfish existed before dinosaurs. They do not have brain, instead they are made up of a 'nerve net'."

Another declared: "Hippos can easily outrun a human. They are extremely aggressive and is one of the most dangerous animal in Africa."

The sentences should have been:

IRRESPONSIBLE

Children learn from what they read, so making mistakes on public signs, especially those for children, is irresponsible.

SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH MOVEMENT CHAIRMAN GOH ECK KHENG, on the poorly worded signs.

•"They are extremely aggressive and are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa."

Madam Lucy Kiew, an operations administrator who visited the mall with her one-year-old grandson last Thursday, felt these errors should be rectified.

"Kids will read the text, not only look at the pictures. The mistakes will give them the wrong impression," said Madam Kiew, 60.

Mr Sidharam Santaradas, a retired logistics officer whose youngest grandson is 12, was another concerned shopper who felt the posters indicate negligence.

"It is a careless mistake and the management should replace the posters. Some of the statements don't even make sense," said Mr Santaradas, 87.

Grammatical mistakes such as these have been a cause for concern. In 2000, the Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) was launched to encourage Singaporeans to speak standard English.

Last Monday, SGEM gave out 10,000 copies of a free guidebook covering topics on grammar and highlighting common errors in the use of English to stem the problem.

A random check on seven shopping malls by The Sunday Times last Thursday found 11 errors in notices and signs used by merchants, including some advertising tuition services for students.

At Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, a shop that claimed to be a "tuition specialist" wrote: "We are increasingly being recognised as the premiere centre for innovation... and is the preferred choice of many parents and students." The "is" in the sentence should be an "are" while "premiere" should be "premier".

Cashier Faizah Rejiman, 22, who saw the advertisement, said: "Students and children who pass by might not know whether to refer to the notice or not, and may get confused. Some might think it is correct since it is displayed in public."

Associate Professor Tan Ying Ying, head of Nanyang Technological University's Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, said that "grammatical mistakes happen to the best of us".

But she felt there was "no excuse for not doing careful proofreading and checking", especially for signs used in public areas. She added: "It is the responsibility of the writer and the organisations putting up public signs to check for proper and correct usage."

SGEM chairman Goh Eck Kheng said the mistakes were the result of "ignorance" and "carelessness".

"All public signs should be carefully written and checked. If you are unsure, get someone who is proficient in English to help you," he said.

"Children learn from what they read, so making mistakes on public signs, especially those for children, is irresponsible," he added. "The way you write and speak also affects how others perceive you and the organisation you represent."

When contacted, a spokesman for Hillion Mall said the management is aware of the mistakes and that changes are being made. The spokesman also confirmed that changes will be made before March 26.

A spokesman for the tuition centre attributed the error to the printing vendor and said the centre is making the necessary changes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'What's wrong with these signs?'. Print Edition | Subscribe