Feature writers who cannot write smooth proze

There is a feature writer at one of the English newspapers here, maybe it is the Times or the News, or maybe the Post, I cannot remember, but the writer, writes the most outrageous feature stories every printed in the English language. I don’t remember her name, and I am not sure what country she comes from, but she is not from Taiwan originally as far as I can tell (I think she is from Singapore) and is not from an English-speaking country either, I don’t believe, but maybe English is her first language.

Her articles are supposedly not allowed to be edited or touched or rewritten. She is a senior writer, I have been informed, maybe 35 years old. She does things like this:

Tells interview subjects in print and to their face that they are too fat and should go on a diet, yes, in print, she writes things like this, how embarrassing …

Writes sentences like this: “He, who is always jetting from continent to continent, likes to eat sushi.” She must a PHD in grammar.

Does anyone know who this woman is, without naming her, of course, and who her editors are? Is she ever edited and if not why not?

Her themes and subjects are fascinating, and she is obviously well-connected in Taipei with VIPs etc, and gets all the VIP press releases and is on a first name basis with stars like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, etc etc, but her prose is so bad it’s bad.

How on Earth did this writer ever land a job here?

If you can’t remember this person’s name or what paper she works for, then what are you blathering about? Is this supposed to be a humorous comment about the general standard of English-language journalism in Taiwan, or are you just drunk?

Just drunk, I guess, Juba. I remember now. Her name is Nancie Liu or Lo or Lu, and yes, now that you jubbaed my brain, it is the Chinese Post here in Taibei. She writes edits lays out and does a generally fine job with the features pages each day, writing the most flowery purple post this side of Hemingway. Instead of writing that “Tom Cruise flew into Taiwan today,” she will say “Tom Cruise jets into Taiwan today …” sometimes she even says “Tom Hanks planed into CKS Airport today…” – maybe fly and flew are too easy for her. Today she had a beaut (how doo u spell Bute?) not Montana… something about a headline speaker, and she wrote “a heady speaker”… forgive me if I am wrong. She is just so funny and amusing … but what I really wonder is why she is never never never edited, at least not in the two years I have been here reading her proze.

Is she senior management, or did she transfer from the Times? I mean, who is she?

Don’t met wrong, Juba, she can write. Very well. It is just so flowery as to be … je ne sais quoi quoi… and yes she speaks several languages, travels around the world, is quite sophisticated and knows her material. It’s just that her proze is so … purple. Is that the word? And is never edited?

I wonder if she herself is aware of this? Probably not, and none of her colleagues apparently want to tell her. I would if I was so employed there. As it is I work for trading company and …

I agree. I know nothing about Nancy Lu personally, and she’s probably a great gal, but as a writer in English, she puts hair on my teeth every time I pick up the Post. I’ll bet she’s probably pretty eloquent in Chinese, though.

At least I don’t think Nancy was ever responsible for some of the Post’s frequent “pubic opinion polls” in the past. I always wondered about those…do the roving reporters go around jamming microphones into people’s groins?


I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard from another Filipina writer in Taiwan that Ms Lu is acutally from the Philippines, an overseas Chinese who was born and raised in Manila and then came here to be a reporter. So maybe her flowery proze is what she learned in Manila, where English does tend to get purplized in the media there. Filipinos write great English, by the way, if you ever read their papers there or online, but the English does tend to be overwritten and flowery. Maybe that is where Ms Lu gets her passion for purple. LOL: yes it grows hair on one’s teeth, nice way to put it, Ironlady!

Ah she’s been around for donkeys. Hilarious. Not fit to write the blurb on the back of milk cartons.

I love the deliberate aim for mediocrity which is the prevaling ethos behind Taiwanese Enlgish language newspapers.

I used to think that it would be a 15 minute job by any literate English speaker to bash that stuff into shape because it had quite clearly not been edited or proofread at all. Reading these boards, I now realise what you got in the paper was the result of hours of editing by literate English speakers, who by all accounts would have their good work undone by management.

The vanity of Taiwanese managers when it comes to English has never ceased to amaze me. At one point my Chinese was excellent, reading, writing, legal, and financial (now it is crap) - but I would never in a million years have the chutzpah to argue with revisions to my Chinese made by an educated native speaker employed by me for that purpose, in the way that Taiwanese people have argued with my English. Of course I am not so naive as to believe the English language industry in Taiwan has anything to do with grammatical readable English.

Yeh, I guess she has been around for donkeys. But from all that I have heard about her, she is a really nice gal, as Terry noted. It’s just her lame proze!

On Friday, I kid you not, she wrote: “Going into this new disco is a real happening place for young people.” It was a puff piece PR job for a new lighter company that was launching a new cig ligher with some pop star named Faith as the idol girl.

Nancy, the word “happening” went out of fashion in the Late Sixties/Early Seventies. Young people don’t give a fig’s hoot about what’s “happening” anymore. They are into a new groove, dear. Wake up and smell the 2002’s or whatever they call this frigging time period now.

I think Ms Lu is maybe a case of an old fogey trying so hard to be hip and cool that she always trips over her own purple proze (without even knowing it, that’s what’s so pathetic…). What if someday somebody actually told her her writing sucks? And she ought to take some lessons from a writing coach. Do they have such things here?

She obviously has good ears and eyes and a high IQ, so she is a good reporter - journalist - PR hack. And she CAN write. But what she writes … is so … happening … that it’s not happening anymore.

Can somebody please whisper in her ear and tell her. She will only get better and better. And we readers can relax…

Perhaps she’s trying to inject a little personality, however dated, into an otherwise bland and amateurish newspaper.

Really. College newspapers have more merit. And less-biased political drival.


Yes, you are right FB, I think that is her real purpose, she is really trying to inject some personality into her feature stories, which is a good idea, it’s just that the personality she injects is … so loopy is grows hair on your teeth, as Terry said above.

Good for Ms Lu to try to inject to clever personality into her writings, I think she really is trying, but somebody needs to tell her that she is going about it the wrong way, at least in terms of how native speakers of English read her prose … it’s not that she is at fault, but she needs to listen to others, and ask for an editor to edit her.

She could be GREAT if EDITED well. Well, maybe not GREAT, but very good…

Try reading Joe Hung’s ‘Twice-told tales’ in the Post.
Reading the telephone book is more exciting and has fewer errors.

Hey Juba! What’s your gripe man?! Do you specialize in just being a prick.


I know what you mean about Joe Huang’s twice-told tales, however, I like the idea of those kinds of stories appearing in the English papers.

The “Twice-told tales” (odd name that – makes me think that I am reading something that has already been told so many times that it must be boring by now…) has a place, ie the historical side of things, but the writing is SO dry and uninspired. It appears to be a sectional account of a huge piece done for a university or some such thing, but in the newspaper – with no breaks – it reads like the history of paint drying.

“One story is good only until another one is told.” (or something like that)

That lighter story was a real hoot. It somehow went from lighters, to drug raids at Texound, to where stars hang out, to where stars meet and fall in love. She’s written some funny stuff, but this was the most entertaining in a while.

The lady can write, that’s for sure!

What I meant to say was: The Lady is a Hoot.

I’m sorry, but:

Mergatroid makes some interesting points. In almost every post, however, you criticize her “proze.” Please – it’s prose.

Merga, let me get this straight:

  1. You think Nancy writes ‘purple’ proze (sic)
  2. That she CAN write … she REALLY can
  3. But you’re not sure why she’s not edited.

editor edit thyself! what does it mean to have a ‘purple’ style of writing? and why do you repeat yourself and others in all your postings?

I’m also a little curious as to how you know she speaks several languages, travels the world, gets VIP press releases (whatever those might be) and is buddy-buddy with Tom Cruise, yet you’re not sure why she’s not edited. Sounds like you know ol Nancy more than you let on.

“Purple prose” kicks up nearly 10,000 hits on Google. It seems to be a well-established phrase in English…

From http://www.debstover.com/purple.html:
"Purple prose consists of words and phrases that sound stilted, overly descriptive, or clich

Terry, right on!

Take today, for example. The story was headlined:

Wu Hsing-kuo to reach out
for forbidden fruit in opera

by Nancy T. Lu
The China Post

I didn’t realize she had a middle initial, perhaps it stands for Tan?

… well, she did it again! A couple of para-para-grafs into the story, the Lady Who is a Hoot, writes:

"Hsia is familiar to many televiewers as a regular teacher of Shanghai dialect.

She, dressed always like a Chinese doll, fills the air with her songs to fan nostalgia for old Shanghai."

Although I am also not a native speaker of English, and often make mistakes of grammar and spelling, I just don’t get it when she writes: “SHE, COMMA, DRESSED ALWAYS LIKE A CHINESE DOLL, COMMA, FILLS …”

Is it correct in English to begin a sentence with a pronoun and then immediately go into a comma and a descriptive phrase, and then re-enter the story? This is the most common idiotsyncrisy she, who loves the comma, makes always.

I am sure I am wrong, but correct me if I am right. Terry.

NOTE: Again, the article itself was great, good story, interesting subject. It’s just the poople proze she sometimes signs her name above.

At least she is interesting.