‘Potential’ Non-count



With Ebere Wabara, ewabara@yahoo.com, 08055001948

THE introductory blunders are from THE NATION of August 24: “Over four months after their abduction, the girls are yet (have yet) to be located.”

“Liberia is (has) yet to return to….” And this: “…untapped heroic potentials (potential)….”

Dr. Stanley Nduagu (08062925996) sent in the next faulty extract from Aba: “The Nigerian nurses as endangered specie (species)” ‘Species’ is both singular and plural. The word ‘specie’ has no place in English language.

“But in the welter of these realignment of forces…” Re-thinking development: these realignments of forces.

VANGUARD of August 28 circulated three goofs: “The fear along the room and corridor (corridors) of power of a sovereign national conference.…”

“It is not in doubt that most of the commuters in the luxurious (luxury) buses that ply.…”

“…Aba traders constitute a large proportion of the passengers on commercial aircrafts (aircraft) that fly….”

“Major reorganization of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which may lead to mass retirement and sack of its men and officers, now looms.” Get it right: a major reorganization or major reorganizations, as context demands.

“One of the most outrageous abuses occurred.…” Spelling in the lurch: occur, occurrence, occurred.

“I do not buy the argument that the advent of electronic mails and network computers have rendered postal services absolute.” Not yet time for structural proximity: the advent of electronic mails and network computers has (not have).

“In doing this, however, he must be faithful to the mandate of the ECOWAS Heads of Government under whose platform he operates.” Agenda: on (not under) whose platform he operates

“As Nigerian editors converge in (on) Asaba for their annual meeting.…”

“A government white paper on the demonstration….” Sheer abuse of words! ‘White paper’ is a report issued by Government to give information. Let’s respect words. After all, reporting is all about telegraphic brevity.

“UNN students union honour vice chancellor” What is happening? Sub-editors of these days show traces of illiteracy! This way: UNN students’ union honours VC  

“The fact that some people eat food that does nothing for their physical well-being put them in the class of the poor.” The fact…puts.

“The richer nations who (sic) have more than enough should in this moment of great need and expectation by the poor masses (the masses are basically poor) be their brothers’ keepers.” Standard sociolinguistics: ‘brother’s keeper’—whether one or more.

“Any further discourse on it, some might say, amounts to nothing but over-flogging a dead horse.”  You flog, not over-flog, a dead horse, talking idiomatically.

“Like few (a few in this context) years ago, a life cow was allegedly buried….” ‘Life cow’ in place of ‘live cow’ portrays sub-literacy.

“Opponents of private universities claim that they will aggravate the unemployment problem in the country.” ‘Unemployment’ is certainly a problem—so why compound it by adding another ‘problem’?

“Denmark has just played an historic role in….” ‘An historic role’ is the type of expression Ndaeyo Uko calls Elizabethan English! Current syntactic trend: ‘a historic…’

“One of the enduring concerns at the workshop concerned the role and orientation of the military with regards to our democratic aspirations.” Received English: ‘as regards’ or ‘with regard to’ And this: ‘concerns…concerned’ is demonstrative of poor vocabulary stock.

“…the two ethnic rivals are now creating the impression that they are about to re-open (no hyphen) their old wounds and embark on another round of strive (strife).”

“To blackmail has so much become the past-time.” Standard entry: ‘pastime’.

“They have in most cases remained willing collaborators in the de-politicization of the political system by acquiescing to virtually all the issues….” Get it right: acquiesce in (not to).

“And the neglect of such costs lead to political and economic imbalance that create disequilibria in the larger society.” The two verbs in this sentence (‘lead’ and ‘create’) demand singular usage to agree with ‘neglect’ and ‘imbalance.’

“The criteria for the choice of candidates was based on partisan political loyalties and ethnic considerations.” The plural of ‘criterion’ is ‘criteria’.

“NSE parleys foreign stock exchange”  ‘Parley’ takes ‘with’, if it must be used in this sense at all.

By the way, is it not amazing that some Nigerian sub-editors do not know what the ‘N’ in ‘NUJ’ represents? It is Nigeria (not Nigerian) Union of Journalists. One keeps coming across the unpardonable error in reputable newspapers and magazines.

“Rangers’ boss picks holes on 3SC” I also pick my own holes in (not on) this headline.

“We express these fears, knowing fully well the nature of ….” This amounts to ill-treatment of the English language. Right: knowing full well.

“The NFA still have to decide on the outcome of some matches” ‘Association’ takes a singular verb. “What is good for the goose can’t be bad for the gander.” I do not understand the use of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ instead of ‘sauce’ in this instance.

“…but LifeStyle will not hesitate to remind you about (sic) one of the qualifying criterion for this jamboree…” Singular: criterion; plural: criteria. And, ‘remind you of…’  

“AN alleged hike in school fees has created a row between the management and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of….”  PTA means Parent-Teacher Association.

“The donation of vehicles and communication gadgets provide a good beginning. “ The donation…provides.

“Fear of robbers keep lawyers away from courts” Fear of robbers keeps…

“CBN intervention bouys naira” Get it right: buoys.

“You must be matured and in love with jazz music.” Just ‘mature’.

The next three errors are from NTA Network News of September 25:

“…. Who presided at the occasion.” NTA correspondents should be civilized: the preposition that goes with ‘occasion’ is ‘on’ (not ‘at’)

“He said that the ministry intends to restore back… “‘Restore back’ shows unintelligibility. With ‘restore’, you can’t have ‘back’. We should not use words we do not understand their meanings (or implications). The English language has evolved from the old period to the modern era. So, journalists must avoid Anglo-Saxon expressions. And this: the ministry intended (not intends)

“Captain…wedded former Miss… in Lagos over the weekend with pomp and pageantry. “ ‘Pomp and pageantry’ is not an accepted phrase. The standard expression is ‘pomp and circumstance’ or ‘pomp and ceremony.’ It can simply be left as ‘pomp’. If you don’t remember these forms, rephrase. At least, you can always recollect that the Nigerian creation (pomp and pageantry) is uneducated.

“Truely, Jos is a home of peace and tourism.” Correct form: truly.

“This development is unlike in some states where education have (sic) died a natural death…” Indeed, education has died in Champion House!

“PUBLIC affairs analysts of the most diverse persuasions are agreed on one thing: the world is at a crossroad. “ This way: at a/the crossroads (not crossroad).

“The hopes of millions of our country-men are centred around us.” ‘Centre’ admits ‘on’, ‘round,’ ‘upon’…never ‘around’.

“Unclaimed properties of accident victims” ‘Property’ in this context is non-count. It can only take the plural form if buildings and acres of land are involved—or scientific references.

“Yes, Nigerians love to eat traditional meals with their bare fingers but that is not to say we can’t provide foreigners with cutleries.” Tourism & Hospitality: ‘cutlery’ is uncountable.

“Villagers beseige hospital for free treatment” Right: besiege.

“In this way, life expectancy bulges as the chances of contacting diseases considerably diminish.” Nobody contacts a disease… ‘contract’ is the word.

“The progressive social option implicit in General Buhari’s analysis is affirmative action aimed at eliminating or drastically reducing poverty.” This way: ‘…an affirmative action.’ Articles are not optional in count words.