The Apprentice: Poor Grammar Meets Cultural Ignorance

I don’t know about you, but I find cultural ignorance very funny. That’s because I think the best way to stamp out racism is to laugh at it, in order to make ignorant people feel highly embarrassed about their total stupidity. Ok, so it’s doubtful that in most places in England, you’ll find the KKK overt brand of racism, (unless it’s in the local BNP clubhouse, not that I’ve ever been of course), but the foul stench of accidental racism still lingers in various corners of the UK.

True, everyone can always serve to learn a little more about other cultures, but amongst certain groups of people, you’ll still occasionally find a rather lazy attitude towards people of other backgrounds; that it’s not worth finding out about other cultures because “they’re just not like us.”

On a slightly less serious note then, The Apprentice this week was definitely one of the best episodes of the season. 🙂

I’m starting to think that the show is specifically tailored to my own viewing pleasure as two of my favourite issues (grammar and racism) have now been covered in the past few episodes. 😉

After an argument over the correct placement of an apostrophe last week, I was equally thrilled when this week, when the pathetic cultural ignorance of the candidates was revealed:

Brushing aside the fact that in a multicultural society, really, everyone should at least know what kosher is, (let alone halal), pretending to belong to a particular religious group to curry favour with your potential employer is probably not the best idea. At least, it’s not one of the techniques they taught us at careers advice at uni.

Whilst I was pleased with the result, I really felt that Michael should have been fired; first of all for being confused over grammar rules, secondly for pretending to be “half Jewish” (whatever that means) and finally, for thinking it might be acceptable to sabotage the other team’s efforts.

Incidentally, there’s no such thing as “half-Jewish.” You either are or you aren’t:

According to the Halacha as interpreted by traditional Jews over many centuries, the offspring of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father is recognized as a Jew, while the offspring of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father is considered a non-Jew. To become a Jew, the child of a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father must undergo conversion.

Returning to the beautiful subject of grammar, Grammarblog has very helpfully cleared up the issue of whether it was Single’s, Singles, or Singles’:

My view is that National Singles Day is a day to celebrate singles, such as Pancake Day is a day to celebrate the pancake. So no apostrophe is required.

Damn it. I have to admit at this point that I was under the impression that it was both plural and possessive, hence “Singles’ Day.” Let’s swiftly move on… 😳

Here’s one extra rather brilliant Apprentice clip, where the entrepreneurial candidates attempt to find a “Holy Man” (where’s Eddie Murphy when you need him?) to “bless” the chicken:

As a final thought, for the remaining few people who might still be confused about the distinction between kosher and halal, I thought I would be very helpful and provide some definitions, should they still be in demand. A brief run through the rules of kashrut:

Although the details of kashrut are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

  • Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
  • Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  • All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
  • Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  • Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs
  • Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
  • Utensils that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
  • Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.
  • There are a few other rules that are not universal.

And for halal:

Now to make meat halal or permissible, an animal or poultry has to be slaughtered in a ritual way known as Zibah. To make it readily comprehended halal is somewhat like Jewish kosher and, Zibah is with some exception similar to Shechita. The Qur`an gives following underlined injunctions in chapter al-Maida 5:3 that:

  • Zibah require animals to be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, since carrion is forbidden and, jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe have to be severed by a razor sharp knife by a single swipe, to incur as less a pain as possible. Here the only difference is that a rabbi will read what is required by his faith and, a Muslim will recite tasmiya or shahada, which fulfils the requirement of dedication. The question of how to overcome the issue of recitation of shahada on individual bird whence we now have poultry being slaughtered at a rate of six to nine thousand per hour, has already been addressed. A Muslim is commanded to commence all his deeds in the name of Allah.
  • All the flowing blood (al- An`am 6:145) must be drained out of the carcass, as blood is forbidden
  • Swine flesh is also forbidden, and it is repeated in few other places in the Qur`an
  • Forbidden is an animal that has been killed by strangling or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall

So there you have it. Kosher and halal are indeed similar but different. So now hopefully there’s no more excuses. 😉


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