Life, Not Lives, and Property



By ebere wabara

DAILY SUN Front Page bold sub-headline impropriety of February 6, 2019, welcomes us today: “EFCC says politicians bringing back loots to corrupt electoral process” ‘Loot’ is uncountable.

THE PUNCH EDITORIAL and its OPINION Page of January 24 carried two solecisms that bordered on sloppiness: “The clamour for SIM card registration by NCC is an unnecessary detraction (sic) and should be stopped.” No distraction, please.

“Among other factors, the poor reading habit of the citizen account (accounts) for the thieving attitude which pervades public life today.”

It will make sense if newspapers begin to civilize their processes by correcting grammatical blunders in advert copies instead of running them sheepishly: “Strenghtening Stakeholders’ Capacity to use Alternative Dispute Resolution….” You do not need a study visit to USA: strengthening, but straightening.

“…he could write in such simple term (a simple term or simple terms) that a man on the street would understand him.” (THE NATION ON SUNDAY, January 27) My comment: ‘the man in the street’ is a fixed idiomatic expression. No writer has the poetic liberty to restructure such stock entries, except in colloquial environments.

Let us welcome, for the first time, repackaged SATURDAY TRIBUNE to this column. Its edition of January 22 undermined the English language on just four occasions: “At the scene, police detectives recovered live and expended ammunitions including explosives yet to be detonated.” Robbers on rampage in Lagos: ‘ammunition’ is uncountable. I would have preferred ‘live ammunition and pellets.’

”MTN: Police probes missing money” National news: Police probe missing money.

“Yet, the embattled boxer did not let go as he pointed accusing fingers to some….” Sport: he pointed the finger at some….

“Voters’ Registration in Fits and Start” Any critical mind should know, at the drop of a hat, that something is wrong with the editorial headline: fits and starts.

Yet another bold headline indiscretion: “Buhari asked to reduce costs of government” In the interest of our democracy: cost of governance.

“I am directed (cliché) to convey the following directives from the meeting of the Board of the National Universities Commission of 20th January 2019, (sic) with regards to the Lead City University, Ibadan.” (Source: NUC Full Page Advert from the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary) Closure of illegal academic programmes: with regard to or as regards!

“The Federal Government’s determination to combat crime and ensure safety of lives and property is set to get a boost through a private sector-led initiative.” THISDAY CITY Strings: life and property (fixed expression, irrespective of the statistic involved—it is not essentially the number of lives lost that is the issue, but the kernel of the application which is that life generically and property were lost).

And this: “A peerless gentleman, business leader, industrialist and philantropist” Spell-check: philanthropist.

DAILY Sun Front, OP-ED and Back Pages of January 20 disseminated numerous gaffes: “Man nabbed in hotel with under-aged girls” (Headline) Get it right: under-age girls.

The Back Page of SATURDAY PUNCH of January 26 also committed the preceding disgusting mistake: “There is nothing heroic about a grown man hiding behind his wife’s back to sleep with an under-aged domestic.” No medals for goofs!

Interestingly, the ‘under-age’ bug also bit one of the headlines on this platform last week: “Osun police investigate under aged (sic) voters”

Apart from the foregoing headline affliction, the same edition had other lexical and structural issues: “The South East Zonal Caucus of the party passed a vote of no confidence on Nwodo.” Politics: vote of no confidence in Nwodo.

“These class of people had simply got bored about staging local parties and so….” Collocation glamour: either this class of people or these classes of people, depending on the configuration or grouping.

“…the board awarded contracts in local currency worth N5.127 billion and dollars worth $1.863 million between January to June 2018.” Business grammar: between January and June or from January to June.

Let us return from this medium to the DAILY Sun of January 20 under review: “However (sic) this time around he emerged as a consequence of regional vengefulness….” Potential Buhari’s massive triumph: at the risk of repetitiveness, as long as particular errors in language usage keep occurring we shall from this side continue to expose them as hard as possible. The good thing is, unlike advertisements, persistent dysfunctional communication cannot confer acceptability on jaundiced expressions. This way: this time round, for the umpteenth time! Columnists must read for subject depth and language currency. Both are the basic elements of public mass education, entertainment, information dissemination, holistic exchange of ideas and social engineering. Otherwise, we lose the entire essence of writing and sterility beckons! This time round (British English) and this time around (American version)

“…they went berserk in patronage of media war to discredit the emerging administration followed by feasting legal bravado that resulted into conflicting suits.” No extinction: result in.

“A few days ago, members of the party in the State House of Assembly called it quit to join the winning ambience of the PDP.” The ‘legislative looters’ called it quits (not quit) to join People Deceiving People! Now on the road to 2019 Presidency as we take the last Back Page contribution from DAILY Sun under review: “…last week Thursday’s…PDP Congress….” Reflections: either last Thursday or Thursday, last week. The excerpt is unacceptable to Standard English.    

“Then this politician in flowing robes during the recent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention approached him with that singular authority which money endows mediocre with….” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, January 14) A summary: either mediocrity or mediocrist (noun). ‘Mediocre’ is an adjective.

From here a fortnight ago comes this parting entry: “The ruling party deserves congratulations for (on/upon) the orderly and dignified manner its presidential primary was conducted.”