Are terrorists proofreaders? And vice versa?


Mark Liberman of Language Log has an interesting post in response to an article by Praveen Swami in The Hindu. Swami claims that textual analysis of the document supposedly sent by the Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan (claiming responsibility for the recent Mumbai terror attacks)  suggests that it was written by a non-native Hindi speaker because: 

a) it was written using voice recognition software, and

b) the text wasn’t proofread.   

Both a) and b) appear contestable to both Liberman and his commenters. I find the comments interesting anyway, because well, it’s always interesting to read what firangs have to say about our languages!

Here’s a delicious sample: 

Are you telling me that they couldn’t chase someone down that could write in Devanagari? Or at least borrow Arabic-Devanagari dictionary (or whatever a book is called that helps translate one script into another) from the library? I mean, this is their manifesto after all, you’d think that it would be a crucial document.  . . .  To just use voice-recognition to get the text down, which you can’t proofread at all? This wasn’t done in an afternoon, it seems incredibly unlikely to me that this is how they did it.

And another:

Oskar, are you saying you can’t believe terrorists wouldn’t take time to do a good proofread? I work at a publisher. If you’re right, I only wish more of our authors were terrorists.

Do read the entire thing.

In other news, this blog is going off the air for a while because its author has holiday homework: a book manuscript to wrap up, proofread and submit by the end of the month; a major chunk of another to get done by the end of next month; and a student dissertation to be edited and proofread, also by the end of the month. Miles and miles to go . . . sigh. Proofreading can be terrorising. For both parties!

But I will be back, of course. With or without a bang. So long, folks!



  1. Quirky Indian said

    Miles and miles to go……and only 27 days left!

    Happy Holidays!


    Quirky Indian

  2. davematt said

    Good post SS. Gonna miss you on the Net. Take care

  3. Prasanth said

    Heh..loved the second comment. One often wonders which is more annoying, the tendency to brand terrorists as gun waving maniacs who do not use their brains at all or the the one to brand them as cerebral demons 7 levels above us common mortals.
    Anyhow, happy hibernation.And in the tune with new times, may nothing occur that forces you to break your self-imposed moratorium until you are ready.

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