Lexical Surgery


Media Gaffes

By Ebere Wabara

YOU are welcome to our language theatre for this week’s surgery: “Task force personnel kills colleague in Rivers over sharing formula” (News around the city, May 27) ‘Personnel’ is a collective noun and cannot be used for just one functionary. In this instance, therefore, the right context should have been ‘official’, ‘employee’, ‘member’, ‘worker’ etcetera—certainly not ‘personnel’.

“There must be a memorandum of understanding that the al-majirdu would no longer be used to lit (light) political fires or sow seeds of sedition under any circumstances.”
“Anambra community warns herdsmen for destroying farm products (produce)” (SOUTH EAST NEWS, May 27)

“It is indisputable that millions of naira has (have) gone down the drain due to poor or no feasibility studies while starting a business.”

“He encouraged the potential investor to continue trying without repeating same (the same) mistakes that cost the earlier failure.”

“…with partners in (on) three continents….”

“…said that the Nigerian banking sector remains (remained) one of the most fertile and profitable, considering the financial space”

“…in their various constituencies to synthesize grass root (sic) opinions on this all important (all-important) project.” Not my view: grassroots opinions….

“In many respect (respects) it is out of tune with modern reality….”

“Nigeria has never degenerated to (into) this level, security wise (security-wise).”

“That is why the state governments need to be given the impetus to pool their wisdom and resources together….” Delete the last word in the extract.

“…the states and local governments sufficiently financially empowered to take care of its (their) responsibilities.” There should be a conjunction between ‘sufficiently’ and ‘financially’.

“The minister exposed the shock find during an official visit to PHCN’s facilities in (on) the premises of the….”

“…contributed to PHCN’s woeful (abysmal) failure to provide regular electricity supply to the nation”

Still on this week’s pool of grammatical disasters, including editorials, surprisingly: “Ngige had, on Tuesday, drew (drawn) the ire of workers by arguing that….”

“…the federal government must embark on some cost saving (cost-saving measures….”

“His arguments on the introduction of N5,000 notes was (were)….”

“FG to sanction DISCOs over over-billing of customers” A rewrite: “FG to sanction DISCOs for overbilling customers”

“Teachers employed by the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) to complement….” Education Today: Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)….

“CANNU donates to flood relief (flood-relief) fund”

“Eduwatch gathers students, scholars together” Yank off the last word in the excerpt.

“Geepee proudly introduces world class (world-class) multilayer (multi-layer) composite panels…no painting, no maintainence” Bloated pride: maintenance!

THE GUARDIAN Opinion Page of May 27 circulated two improprieties: “With preparations in top gear, and barring any last minute (last-minute) hitches….”

“The final death nail (sic) came with the present political dispensation that began in 2000 that paid lip-service to governance.” Get it right: death knell or just knell. There is nothing like ‘final death nail’!

“If the Abia PDP stalwarts have forgotten, we will gladly remind them that candidates who stand for elections under (on) the platform (platforms) of political parties….”
“Kaduna gears up for LG polls amidst (amid) fears of violence”

“Records show that their actions and inactions, in the past, have (had) contributed in….”
“Non-partisan intelligence driven mechanism panacea to Boko Haram” A rewrite: “Non-partisan, intelligence-driven mechanism, panacea to Boko Haram
“Police deploys (deploy) 19,000 officers for games”

“Let it be a time to re-examine our consciences and tell ourselves (one another) the truth.”
“Between 180,000 to 200,000 barrels of crude oil….” The worsening crude oil theft: Between…and…not ‘to.’

“How skill acquisition, entrepreneurship impacts (impact on/upon) national development”
“Poor budget implementation: A drawback on (of/to) national development”

“Notice of court ordered meeting of FCMB PLC. (This full stop is useless here)” And this: court-ordered meeting….

Still on THE GUARDIAN: “Non DStv (Non-DStv) subscribers get 3 months (months’) free subscription with every devices (device) purchased.” Which agency wrote this poor advertisement copy? I hereby surcharge it!

“In our pursuit of better ways to make our renown (renowned) products available to more Nigerians….” ‘Renown’ is a noun—it is its adjectival form that is required here.


“THE family of…announces with deep sorrow but gratitude to Almighty God the death of our son…following a ghastly road accident….” My sympathies quite all right, but the English language cannot die: a fatal (not ghastly) vehicular accident. And for the second time round, ‘sorrow but gratitude to Almighty God’ cannot—and will never as long as there are seed time and harvest time—co-function in any circumstance. What is amiss with our spirituality? Our God does not inhabit in sorrowful environments. So, as His children, let us give thanks to Him in all situations. He knows best why tragedies befall us. Even in the face of fatalities, write obituaries or related issues with cheerfulness, joy, happiness, satisfaction, angelic punctuation, heavenly intervention…and (not but) gratitude to God, we….Sounds eschatological? Reactions are welcome to this lexico-spiritual intellectualization of Christianity. I insist that this is a contradictory and blasphemous obituary!


LATEST reaction to the above encore from a man of erudition, Mr. Eniola Bello, the Managing Director of ThisDay Newspapers: “Deep sorrow and gratitude…may appear contradictory but I see no reason why they cannot co-function. You cannot take language use from its cultural and religious environment. The contentious phrase has nothing to do with where God inhabits. It is more about the impact of a tragedy and the acceptance of the unchangeable. Where on earth will anybody announce the death of a loved one with joy? The sorrow is for the loss; the gratitude for the life lived and in keeping with God’s commandment to give thanks in good or bad times. There is no reason why both cannot go together. Ever seen a woman cry in pain during intercourse yet clings to her partner, moans and pleads that he shouldn’t stop in order not to terminate the immeasurable pleasure? You say it is contradictory? I say it’s paradoxical.

NEXT WEEK: A reaction from Dr. Stanley Nduagu on “extreme end” and my own irrevocable standpoint on the vexatious padding!