English Without Tears



By Ebere Wabara

LET us begin with a visit to Champion House, Ilasamaja, Mushin, Lagos: “Soldiers take over troubled spots” Let peace reign: trouble spots.

“Post election violence spreads” Towards a better life for the people: Post-election violence….

“Man killed in car accident” Why not ’’Man dies in car accident?’’ He was not killed!

“President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, expressed sadness over the sporadic violent protest (protests)….”

The next headline blunder is from last week’s edition of this medium: “Police arrest four over Maiduguri explosion” Do we arrest the entire editorial team for (not over) lexical recklessness?

“Bribery enthrones mediocrity and crucify merit.” The Tabernacle of bribery crucifies merit.

“Gang up against Buhari will fail” Phrasal verb: gang up; noun: gang-up (which applies here).

“We were treated to another similar incidence.…” All newspapers should know the difference between ‘incidence’ and ‘incident’ (which applies here).

“Although the governor’s last minute romance with the main opposition party is held against him.…” Saturday People: last-minute (take note of the hyphen) romance

“Thus, a core investor…with regards to optimal use of the machinery.…” Either: as regards or with regard to….

“In the heydays of the goggled General when fuel was often unavailable….” Stranglehold of oil workers: heyday (uncountable).

“Last year, many houses of the Igbo in Ajegunle, a suburb of Lagos, were razed down.…” No word abuse: simply razed (not razed down). Discard the contrary views by some registers!

Yet another headline gaffe: “Restrictions on inter-bank foreign exchange trading is (are) killing the market.”

“Armed robbers now have good company–street thugs and unofficial vigilante groups.” (THE GUARDIAN, April 20 ) Democracy as a disincentive: vigilance group.

“Buhari points accusing fingers at INEC….” (DAILY SUN, April 20) People in the news: Buhari points the finger. No obtuse addition.

“Nigeria is at a crossroad” (VANGUARD, April 20) Fixed expression: at a/ the crossroads.

“Stationeries badly needed by.…” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, April 20) ‘Stationery’ is non-count.

“But what appears criminal is the desire of these off-springs of.…” (DAILY CHAMPION, April 20) ‘Offspring’ does not take any inflection.

The next three goofs are from VANGUARD of April 20: ”…the process of economic integration from which will emerge an economic block (bloc).…”

“There is a tussle going on between these two (would it have been three?) arms of government.”

“Nigerian leaders and politicians have continued to adopt and acquiesce to (in).…”

“Globacom sets (set) to rule domestic market” (Nigerian Tribune, April 20)

“I have been briefed that the wrangling among the leaders of PDP are (is) over.” (SUNDAY VANGUARD, April 17)

BusinessDay of April 20 disseminated an embarrassing impropriety: “Now that the Police has (have) taken over the supervision of the….”

“…and ensure it does not reoccur again.” (THE GUARDIAN, April 20) ‘Reoccur again’? Run for cover, my dear reader! Just recur. Recur, recurrence, recurrent. Occur, occurred, occurrence.

“Lack of incentives anger (angers) local manufacturers” (THE GUARDIAN, April 20)

“They provide temporary relief.” (Source: as above) ‘Temporary relief? I strongly object to that clumsy expression because there is no permanence in ‘relief’.

THE PUNCH of April 20 circulated three solecisms: “The patients pay for each act of ‘healing’ through their noses.” Get it right: they pay through the nose.

“At the launching programme (launch) in Abuja.…”

“A cursory look at the figures show (shows) that.…”

Daily Sun of April 19 circulated copious shibboleths: “The end point is that people wait for between three to five hours to pay in their drafts.” English without tears: between three and five.

“With the attainment of the highest office at any strata of government….” Singular: stratum; plural: strata.

“It may be difficult for Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu to resurrect again politically after his disastrous outing in the just-concluded presidential elections.” Please, yank off ‘again’ in the interest of lexical sanity and our democracy.

“They better not rely on INEC.” This way: They had better not rely on INEC.

“Like (As) we had said at various forums. …” (Nigerian Tribune, April 18)

“So, the government cannot ask the Supreme Court to interprete the law.” Spell-check: interpret. (Source: as above)

“…the reduction in the number of road accidents and causalities.” (Leadership, April 20) This way: casualties.

“…to that extent, we shall congratulate its authors for (on) hearing the deafening cry of Nigerians for an effective legislature.” (Nigerian Tribune, April 20)

“…were simultaneously a continuation of the power-bloc struggle in Nigeria and unanticipated fallouts from that struggle.” (DAILY CHAMPION, April 20) ‘Fallout’ is uncountable.

“…appeal to the discredited tactics of past times also wreak havoc on the procedural sanctity of the democratic path.” (Vanguard, April 20) Notes of disquiet: pastime.

“Out-of-control trailer crushes 15 persons to death” When people are crushed by a trailer, they cannot be alive except there is divine intervention. So, ‘crushed to death’ smacks of lexical insensitivity. (Daily Trust, April 20)

“My dear distinguish Senator Mark…Indeed, we are celebrating a statesman whose dedication and service to his fatherland is (are) worthy of emulation.” On the plateau: My (Our) dear distinguished Senator….

“Your unassailable wisdom and sterling qualities have made you stand out as trustworthy and reliable leader.” Happy Birthday: a (note the article) trustworthy and reliable leader.

“Your ability to work out (answer/do) knotty political puzzles…makes you worth (worthy) of emulation.”

“Indeed, its (it’s) really a pleasure working with you….” (From The Senators of the 7th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria)

“…so he could not have seen fire and tell (told) me to put my hand.” Alternatively, he cannot see fire and tell me to put my hand.

“…the APGA governorship candidate in Abia State at (in) the April 2011 elections….”

“Why change your wardrobe every five minutes while all it takes is a different accessories.” All it takes are different accessories.