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On writing brochures July 28, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in littlerockers, rant.
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I wrote this piece first in the alumni blog and then found that this blog would be a more appropriate place to put this up. I have consistently used the alumni blog for news rather than opinion pieces and therefore I am linking to it here. Part of the post is a mail I wrote to Prof. Ninan last night regarding the brochure that came out of Little Rock.

A few words of criticism of the Footprints brochure are in order.

The brochure printed on the occasion of Footprints requires a second look ; some serious editing wont hurt at all. The punctuation and sentence construction is just not up to the mark. The word usage and grammar is sloppy at best and disastrous at worst.

From my schooling days at Little Rock in general and a particular experience with regards to Prof. Ninan’s editing of my essay submission to a national level essay contest in March 1997, I can vouch that Prof. Ninan couldnt have possibly edited this brochure.

Here are a few examples ( all from page 6 here) :

“Nestled on a hillock, in the sylvan surroundings of a 30-acre campus in Chantar, Brahmavar” could rather be replaced by “Nestled on a hillock in a 30-acre campus in the sylvan surroundings of Chantar near Brahmavar”. ( we are not in the surroundings of the 30-acre campus, we are in the campus that is spread over 30 acres )

“a great visionary wanted to build up a school” could rather be “a great visionary wanted to build a school”. “Build up a” makes it look like a school is just another physical entity like a wall or a bridge.

To suggest “cordial and sensible student-teacher relationship” was really not necessary and ends up unduly emphasizing the “sensible nature of the relationship”. We are safe to assume they are.

“Personal attention to every student” is superfluous and so are “creative academic innovations.” and “seemingly unsurmountable obstacles and problems”. Phrases like “balanced growth of its students” sound out of place.

The sentence “The journey towards excellence continues, and is still a long way off the destination” is an unmitigated disaster. It seems like the “journey” itself is off the destination whereas its the school that is being meant. Secondly, “Off the destination” makes it sound like its on the wrong path – “from the destination” would be more appropriate. The comma before “and” is not really necessary but may not entirely be wrong. A better construction might have been – “As a school we are a long way from where we hope to be and the journey towards our destination continues unabated/ceaselessly/relentlessly.”

Unless otherwise intentional (which itself wouldnt be entirely appropriate), the word “school” appears as “School” in the middle of sentences.

…and the list goes on. I am sure competent English language teachers ( of which I am certainly not one ) can do a better job at critiquing the language used in the brochure.

We request Prof. Ninan not to outsource the editing of a brochure – nobody else could do better.

Update : Prof. Ninan got back to me on the mail I wrote to him last night. He has presented his views on my criticism and clarified some of my concerns and agreed to look into some of the issues raised.

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