SATURDAY EXPRESSION By Ebere Wabara
DAILY Sun Editorial of May 2 invaded the English language this way: â€œBut to put the matter in proper perspective (in proper perspectives or in a proper perspective, depending on contextualization)â€¦.â€
â€œMFM GO commissions (inaugurates/auspicates/launches) medical centre, hands over to MTUâ€
â€œHow local content can solve unemployment problemâ€ (THE BUSINESS REPORT, April 16) â€˜Unemploymentâ€™ is a problem. So, there is no value padding another â€˜problemâ€™!
From Politics & Power of April 16 come the next two infractions: â€œYou may disagree with Obasanjoâ€™s style but all the things he said, are there truths in any of it (them)?â€
â€œLike (As) I said, if we dismiss what he said with a wave of the hand, Nigeria will be undoing itselfâ€¦.â€
The next two improprieties are from News around the City of April 25: â€œ2 bag 18 years (yearsâ€™) imprisonment for pension fraudâ€
â€œNational Theatre ex-acting DG, 4 directors charged for (with) taking bribeâ€
THISDAY Front Page of May 5 contained a self-inflicted grammatical challenge: â€œHe said federal, not state authorities, are (were) holdingâ€¦in custodyâ€¦.â€
From the Editorial Page of DAILY SUN of Wednesday, April 18, comes this error: â€œâ€¦that would enable them (enable them to) appreciate historyâ€¦.â€ Like â€˜ableâ€™, â€˜enableâ€™ attracts the preposition â€˜toâ€™. (Contributed by Dr. Stanley Nduagu, Aba, 08062925996)
Let me reiterate that the focus of this column is formal (modern) Standard British English usageâ€”not traditional or regionalized English, which is usually dialectical with a dozen of applicative circumscription!
â€œInviteeâ€ is a piece of Americanism that has invaded Nigeria by way of language imperialism. Persistent abuse of a word or phrase does not confer acceptability or correctness on it. Sticklers must cleanse themselves of the juvenile indoctrination that everything in the dictionary is correct. This columnist, without being immodest, has developed the capacity and competency to justifiably question literary status quo and conventions.
Furthermore, this columnist is not interested in colloquial and informal (non-standard) entries, which may exist in â€˜Abrahamicâ€™ (ancient) registers, dictionaries and thesauruses! Personally, language currency is the sustainable path to toeâ€”not faddishness, lexical conservatism, conventional wisdom and normative reliance. I have dictionaries, thesauri, English language textbooks and other general interest books which contain grammatical and factual blunders!
For me, these publications are guides which are not inviolable. Even the Bible, thesaurus and Shakespearean materials, as authoritative as they are, still contain lexical, structural and informational contradictions, if not fallacies. The edition of references is also critical because what is right today may be wrong tomorrow, depending on human strides, dynamism and universal language development.
Our familiarization with dated words or expressions in vogue in our locales should not mislead us into believing that they are sacrosanct and immutable. I welcome more constructive reactions to this and other issues raised here. My position on â€œinviteeâ€ still stands. According to D. W. Williams, past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post.
Back to our usual business: â€œThe Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is currently in a dilemma over the inability of five of the eight banks that failed the stress test in the industry in 2009 to get suitable partners.â€ (NIGERIAN Tribune Front Page, 2 May) By every shred, â€œisâ€ indicates currency. So, I do not understand this ubiquity in Nigerian newspapers: â€œis currentlyâ€. A rewrite: The CBN is in a dilemmaâ€¦.
â€œMy most embarrasing dayâ€ (SUNDAY PUNCH Beauty Corner Headline, May 6) Spell-check: embarrassing, but harassing
â€œExploitation of the underagedâ€ (Sunday Tribune, May 6) Get it right: underage.
â€œFirst Bank Nigeria PLCâ€™s result for the period is an attestation of the trendâ€ (Source: as above) Money: attestation to (not of) the trend.
â€œâ€¦there is no doubt that she will be able to steer the ship of the bank without any doubt….â€ (THISDAY SUNDAY BUSINESS PEOPLE, May 6) Why the overkill of â€˜doubtâ€™?
â€œLet sleeping dog lie!â€ (Vanguard Headline, April 29) Sweet and Sour: Let sleeping dogs lie.
â€œMore grease to your elbow.â€ (DAILY SUN, April 29) This way: More power (not grease) to your elbow. What future for the English language?
â€œI believe that our politicians ought to have become more mature, and that the maturity would manifest in their conducts (conduct).â€
â€œMy mission was to present a review of the book at the occasion.â€ (THE GUARDIAN, May 4) Return to the source: on the occasion.
The next three blunders are from the Nigerian Tribune of May 4: â€œThey are taken through a two-week orientation seminar on American culture and press at the onset (outset) of the fellowship programme in June.â€
â€œIt is sad, very sad that the Nigerian police has never been known to use rubber bullets.â€ Checking the excesses of security operatives: Nigerian police have (not has).
â€œThe assistance of government is urgently needed in this matter as lack of co-operation by many residents is hampering the activities of vigilante (vigilance) bodies.â€
â€œSimilarly, at the advent of any coup in Nigeria, we discover that power in all ramification (ramifications) is taken over by the military.â€
â€œAn average number of the Southerners are readily willing even at short notice (a comma) to stab their own brother on (in) the back, if only to have a piece of the national cake.â€
â€œFurthermore, the South seem (seems) to have taken the north for granted for too long.â€
THE GUARDIAN of May 3 powered two mistakes: â€œWe must entrench into (in) the statute books provisions for the recovery of stolen loot from outgoing governors, ministers and their proximate beneficiariesâ€¦.â€ Is there any loot that is not stolen?
Goodnight, Kola Danisa
JUST last week, I read about the death of one of the few English language purists in Nigeria, a major contributor to this column and a friend of mine, Mr. Kola Danisa.
The first and last time we met was at the biennial conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Katsina not too long ago. Before that meeting, we were in constant touch through telephony and email.
An emeritus of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), egbon Kola was always vivacious despite the excruciating challenges of protracted illness.
May his soul rest in peace. While here, you and the late Baba Bayo Oguntunase routinely disagreed on major lexical issues! How I wish you could reconcile in death! Both of you live on in my mind. Your grammatical interventions remain referential till eternity.