Dictionary Limitations


With Ebere Wabara

DAILY Sun Front Page Banner of October 10 welcomes us this weekend with this embarrassing error: “APC senators sheath (sheathe) swords against Saraki”

“Ihedioha has been parading a purported 3 man (3-man) ad-hoc (ad hoc) ward delegate….”

“To cement his claim, Ihedioha wrote and delivered congratulation (congratulatory) letters to….”

“Imo PDP is in the opposition and characters (a character) akin to that of Ihedioha posses (poses) a serious threat to the much needed (much-needed) unity in the party and must be dealt with, else the party stand (stands) a (the) risk of another poor outing come (in) 2019 in Imo State.”

“Zamfara guber (governorship): I’m better (best) equipped to rescue our state, people—Lawal, aspirant” (Politics & Power, September 26) With more than two governorship aspirants in the race, it should be ‘best’, not ‘better’. Please also note that ‘guber’ is an informal entry not fit for a knowledge-based publication.

“FG to invest $22bn on (in) 164 projects in 2020”

“Ebonyi to probe 11 years (years’) transactions with banks”

“Dangote, Otedola’II fast track (fast-track) Nigerian football”

“When the president of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick said there is (was) no Nigerian….”

”…barely a year after it exited a recession (it exited recession).”

It is not everything that is in the dictionary that is correct at all times because of language dynamism. It is for this reason that the dictionary and other reference books are continually revised. So, don’t go about dogmatically chest-thumping that you have an infallible authority when reacting to etymological issues published in this column. You need to do a lot of research-based rationalization informed by voracious reading if you crave purity in communication.  That is the only way to go for sticklers.

“They, in turn, could be able to carry out their legitimate duties to their customers.” Either: could or would be able. ‘Could be able’ is offensive.

“Some people who have axe (an axe) to grind against (with) NIJ and its management.”

“That is one thing that is not so easy to come by at the Ogba campus of the NIJ” Get it right: on the Ogba campus.

“The effort of such illustrious alumni are needed to lift it up from the present morass.” Why the subject-verb discord? Effort is (not are) needed.

“To those close to the corridor (corridors) of power.…”

“Let him breath the air of freedom.” Noun: breath; verb: breathe.

“With a stroke of fate, Muhammadu Buhari had been thrust on (in) the leadership saddle of the nation.”

“Rather, we prefer to import the latest from foreign countries, without trying to see whether we can produce better varieties”. Delete ‘from foreign countries’.

“Though successful (successive) governments had at different times urged Nigerians to….”

“…the armed robbers have already gone with their loots”.  ‘Loot’ is non-count.

“Nigerians need other people friendly (sic) foundations to join the bandwagon”.  Either climb or jump on/aboard the bandwagon.

“Regard the face of our Head of State at formal and informal occasions.” (THE GUARDIAN, January 2) To laugh is human: on (not at) all occasions.

“That shoot-at-sight order in Libya” Get it right: shoot-on-sight order.

“…a constitution designed to ensure peace and stability is this nation’s only antidote against (to) national disintegration.”

“When our prisons are bursting at their seems (seams) with political detainees.…”

“The aversion of Nigerians for (to) military rule is clear and unmistakable.”

“…alleging intimidation and harassments which made fair conduct of elections unattainable.“ ‘Harassment’ is non-count.

“But I believe in a Nigeria in which what is good for the goose is good for the gander” (Thisday, January 2) What is sauce for the goose.…

”…Nigeria which should be flying with the eagles is roaming about with the chicken” (Source: as above) Always at the brink: delete ‘about’.

“While those with matured (mature) minds were able to control their emotions.…”

“Musicians pay last respect to departed….” Fixed: last respects

“The armed bandits struck at Hawan-Kibo, about 60 kilometres from Jos.” Are there un-armed bandits?

“Members of ANCLA are now working on plans to see that this menace is reduced or wiped out completely.” Yank off ‘completely’ to foreclose lexical insanity.

“The development is sad, pathetic and constitutes a terrible setback on the objective of the party reform.” Get it right:  a setback to (not on) the objective.

“Hopefully, we will end up with a human specie (species) that is half-man and half-dog.”

“We must congratulate him for (on) these, but….”

“At the end of the day, their children still have to interact with the offsprings of the marginalized masses.”  ‘Offspring’ is uncountable.

“And Nigerians, as well as the international community, have evidently warmed to this new hopeful visage.” Get it right: wormed.

“As we observed last week Tuesday in regard to.…” Either: last Tuesday or Tuesday, last week

“Do we have any right to demand for grain supplements from these countries?” Readers have the right to demand (not demand for) formal use of the English language by Nigerian newspapers.

“…the oba suffered the indignity in London of having some of his luggages (luggage) identified….”

“Atimes (At times) the person falls asleep easily.…”

“Right from the time she served on the guild’s standing committees, she put in her very best.”  The face of grammar: ‘best’ cannot be amplified (very best!) because of its superlative form which abhors inflection.

“Firm plans MKO pavillion at poly” Spell-check: pavilion.

“Hence the reluctance of some private sector employers to participate in the new welfare scheme is borne out of the precedence being set by the public sector.” Get it right: precedent.

“Are you hearing me?” This is wrong. ‘Hearing’ cannot function as a verb because of its structural characterization. The correct expression goes thus: ‘Can you hear me?’

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