Onset’, ‘Outset’ Differ      


MEDIA GAFFES              

With Ebere Wabara

THE  BUSINESS REPORT of August 5 welcomes us today with two headline faults: “Labour says breach of agreements cause (causes) workplace conflicts”

“ANWBN senitises women on (to) business challenges, potential”

“I was harassed by film producers at onset (outset)” (THISDAY, THE SATURDAY NEWSPAPER, August 3)

“The introduction of five new housemates seem (seems) to have taken from the usual eviction jitters and thus reenergized the….” (Source: as above)

“Who says Nigeria is too tough to govern” Who pocketed the question mark?

Lest I am accused of being repetitive in this column, as long as systemic infelicities in multifarious collocations keep recurring, there would be no hesitancy in highlighting them repeatedly until scholarly exactitude takes place. The next two headline flaws confirmed this infallible position: “Banks lay siege on lawmakers” A rewrite: Banks lay siege to lawmakers. “Buhari: Four years on the saddle” Again: in the saddle.

“As human beings, we are the highest evolved specie.” (FRSC Road Safety Tip, THISDAY, June 8) For the Corp Marshal’s attention: species.

 “Creating a smoke free environment” (THE NATION ON SUNDAY Headline, July 7) Even my racy platform of expression: smoke-free environment! Don’t you appreciate the classicality (and, of course, correctness) of the hyphenation? 

“Nollywood pays last respect for (to)…” (National News Headline, June 4) There is no absolute individuality in orthography and other aspects of the English language: last respects.

“Combatants mend fence” (Source: as above) This way: mend fences.

“Rooney’s wife looses temper after Twitter user comment” (SATURDAY INDEPENDENT, July 27)  In doing this weekly critique, I cannot lose my temper.

“Nigerian seamstress per excellence for Dubai fashion show” (Saturday Mirror Headline, June 4) Just seamstress par (not per) excellence.

“Efforts so far to speak with the Kogi State Police Public Relation (sic) Officer has (have) proved abortive (now a cliché!)” (SATURDAY TRIBUNE, July 27)

“It now takes residents leaving (living) towards the bus stop….” (THE GUARDIAN, June 4) 

“VC accuses lecturers of double standards” (National News Headline, June 2) There is no periphery of options here: double standard (fixed expression).

“Clearance of non-CRI goods begin (begins) at ports” 

“Rohr gets sweeping power” Get it right: sweeping powers.

“…had said that DAILY SUN is (was) a credible publication, one not likely to misquote him or twist what he says in a free display of editorial freedom.”

“Like (As) we have said at various fora….”

“So these are the kind of things that create jobs but they take time to take off fully.”  Either: this is the kind of thing or these are the kinds of things.

“So the government cannot ask the Supreme Court to interprete the law.”  Spell-check, always: interpret.

“Meanwhile, no one can convince me that we are getting returns of any kind from either of these two countries.…” Stock phrase: either of these countries

“…the reduction in the number of vehicle accidents and casualities (casualties).”

“Self-styled armies sprung (have sprung) here and there …”

“State, council relationship: chairmen pick hole (holes) in 1999 Constitution.”  

“This year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day and Emblem Appeal Week were rounded-off yesterday….” Once more, phrasal verbs do not admit hyphenation.

“The private sector in conjunction with the local governments are in a better position.” The private sector…is (not are), but the private sector and the local governments are…. 

“At these occasions, Nigerians have been fed with these noble and esteemed virtues that differentiate the men from the boys.”  Not my opinion: On these occasions

“As a result, majority of the citizens do not even know of the existence of the national population policy of four children per woman.” Many people, small world: a/the majority of the citizens

“There was no signs in the air” Random musings: why the discord?

“The truth lies somewhere between the two extreme positions” (Already addressed) 

“Government has wetted the public appetite for information enough….” Get it right: whetted (note the spelling) the public’s appetite for information.  

“It is these people that Nigerians would ordinarily believe rather than some whose integrity are (is) in doubt.”

“The research aspect of the campaign was targetted (targeted) towards (at)….”

“Between 300 to 500 million people globally get malaria infection yearly, whilst a sufferer dies every fifteen seconds.” Combating the malaria scourge: between 300 and 500 or from 300 to 500

“In other words, successive budgets have failed to realize its (their) objectives of improving the living standard of the people.”

“The NEIC should swing into action right from the onset (outset in this context).” ‘Onset’ usually smacks of unpleasantness. So, why not ‘outset’ to be on the safe side?  

“If the demand is granted on the ground (grounds) that he would play his own role….”

“Talking about renaming our institutions after our falling (fallen) heroes….”

“The news out of Libya in the past five months have (had) been about killings….” ‘News’ is uncountable, by the way.

“Lateef Jakande as governor of Lagos State warmed (wormed) his way into the hearts of Lagosians with a single-minded pursuit of his housing programme.”

“Querying Africa’s underdevelopment has become a political discipline of it’s own as much that facts are hardly advanced in the critical political human analysis of Africa’s problems.”  Possessive: its.

“…promote international co-operation having due regard to the United Nations charter and the universal declaration of human rights.” In the interest of harmony, let us have regard for (not to) lexical rudiments. Gentlemen of the Press, let’s think! 

“All these assertions I concord with totally.” I cannot concur with gradual annihilation of the English language.

“LCCI boss proffers solution on education problems” What solution do we proffer to (not on) deteriorating journalism these days?



Great work, Mr. Ebere Wabara. I think you should extend this exercise to the works of our columnists. I thank you. Sent in by Mr. Charles Iyoha.