By Ebere Wabara
“POLICE is your friend” is fatally incorrect. Get them right: Police are your friends; the police command is (not are); the police force is (not are); the policeman/woman is your friend—for those who believe! Police: always plural if used as a stand-alone.
NATIONAL NEWS of July 20 formally opens the gateway to anarchy today: “Nigerians that can afford it spend fortune in protecting themselves and members of their families.” Get it right: spend a fortune or spend fortunes
THE NATION JOBS of April 16 created a spelling loophole: “The banking reforms have brought in its trail casualities and survivors.” Spell-check: casualties
DAILY INDEPENDENT of April 16 contributed four blunders to this edition: “Can certain traits be transfered (transferred) from one state to another?”
”…many children have became (become) orphans”
“Black Wednesday as Benue Revenue Office razed” What does this mean?
“World Bank commends Nigeria over (on/for) maternal death reduction” (Source: as above)
TRIBUNE of April 11 committed an uncommon foible: “Within the party, there have (has) been a series of movement (movements)….”
“The recurring shipwrecks on the Lagos water has (have) resulted in the erosion of choice beach lands….”
“All said, however, what is important is that people prepare themselves to (for) a heavy downpour this year.” (THE NATION COMMENT Page, April 11) No embellishment, please: just downpour, which simply means heavy rain. Therefore, ‘heavy downpour’ is sheer verbosity.
BUSINESSDAY of July 11 gave readers a paragraph they should distrust: “Electricity sector stakeholders and consumers have hit back at the Federal Government’s claim that the nation’s electricity generating capacity has reached 4,000 megawatts, saying the claim was false and that generation has indeed nosedived to less (sic) 3,600 megawatts.” Even without being professorially numerical, the reality here is that reduction from 4,000 to 3,600 can never be a nosedive—it is only a slight drop! Let us avoid malapropism.
For the reader that sought the meaning of ‘sic’ via SMS: It is an adverb that means “thus (added in brackets after a word or expression in a quotation which looks wrong or absurd, to show that it has been quoted correctly).” Source: The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of The English Language.
The next three headline blunders are from Vanguard of February 15: “New Edo lawmaker sworn-in” Phrasal verbs (stave off, swear in) abhor hyphenation.
“Relocation of varsity: Only 2 people die in protest —Police” Tense characterization of headlines notwithstanding, only 2 persons (not people—even without being a lexicologist!).
“A money bag threw some wads of naira notes into the air….” A politician’s campaign tragedy: A money-bags.
The Guardian of February 16 equally jumped on the bandwagon of headline slovenliness on two embarrassing occasions: “PENGASSAN is not aversed to PIB, says Ogun” I am averse to ubiquitous headline gaffes.
“Post conviction bail only granted under exceptional circumstances” An all-time critical element: Post-conviction bail…
“Obasanjo, Atiku condole victims’ families” Either condole with or simply console.
“UI Lagos alumni restructures” (THE PUNCH, February 14) Alumni (plural) restructure or alumni association restructures. Avoid mix-ups.
“Atiku overated himself” (TheNEWS Headline, February 14) Spell-check: overrated.
“I said there is no more monolithic north” (Nigerian Tribune, July 13) A rewrite: I said there was no more monolithic north.
“Ministry drafts health officials to cholera infested areas” (Source: as above) Community News: hyphenation (cholera-infested areas) makes a lot of difference in lexis and structure.
“Promoting values based leadership” (First Bank Full Page Advert) Leadership initiative: just as corrected above.
“To eradicate the level of illiteracy in the state….” You can only reduce illiteracy. Even the most educated nation in the world still has a percentage of illiterate population. Some people are either circumstantially or naturally uneducable!
“Tafawa Balewa crisis: Governor’s soothing balm” What else would balm do if not soothe. So, Governor’s balm
“Fake journalist arrested in Imo with 4,054 voters card” A terse observation: voters’ cards.
“Students invest N2m on science lab rehabilitation” Invest in (not on).
“Dozens feared dead as Obaseki flags-off (flags off) campaign in Benin” Confirm before going to bed whether they were dead or not! ‘Feared dead’ does not convey anything. A canon of journalism: when in doubt, leave out. I am interested in formal/standard English—not state-side or provincial versions.
“Voter registration: A post mortem” All-time little things that matter, but look insignificant: post-mortem, please.
“…because they are not entirely immuned from the adverse consequences of pervasive poverty in third world nations.” (THE PUNCH, July 16) Get it right: immune (not immuned) from.
“These are the major factors but there is a final secret with regards.…” (NIGERIAN Tribune, July 16) Get it right: as regards or with regard to.
“Encumbered by the demands by many who need her services, she atimes turn (sic) cases to colleagues in Owerri town.” (Leadership, February 15) No encumbrances: at times (two words).
“LAST week Monday’s press briefing by the administrator….” (Nigerian Tribune, July 16) Functional communication: LAST Monday’s press briefing. ‘Week’ is redundant in the construction.
“Today on the continent, there are all manners of refugees….” (THISDAY, July 16) Not yet in want: all manner of refugees.
The next failed sentence is from The Guardian of July 13: “Extremism had also brought about the death of 37 left-wing intellectuals when the hotel in which they were holding a conference in the central town of Sivas was touched (torched) on December 2, 2010.’’
“In Nigeria today, it needs these props to support its misrule and no amount of talks about human rights will make it surrender its very life wire.” (DAILY Sun, July 16) Lexical reality: livewire.