‘Fire Outbreak’ Wrong

Ebere Wabara

THE first school-boy howler today is from Education Today Cover Page: “Affected candidates demand for certificates” ‘Demand,’ when used as a verb, does not admit ‘for’—only when employed as a noun.

“FMN Women Network promote (promotes) equality, inclusion with technology” 

“16 drug traffickers bag 156 years (years’) imprisonment in Lagos”

“…under the ruling APC and people’s trust on (in) your ability to deepen dividends of democracy in Ebonyi State when sworn in.”

“Corporate beggars on prowl (on the prowl)”

“Mr. V…always your most hyginic water” Quality water, quality life: hygienic (always spell-check) as we celebrate World Water Day! Corporate misspelling tragic! 

The killing of 39 Borno fishermen: “As we had always advised on many occasions, government should adequately equip our soldiers, motivate them and unleash them against (on) these terrorists.”

“Here are the faces of some of the personalities at (on) the occasion.”

“…the trust reposed on (in) by choosing you above every other contestant.”

The Guardian of March 26 nurtured some wrongs right from its front page: “Zambia (Zambian/Zambia’s) ex-president, Banda, to appear in court today over Nigeria’s oil deal, others”

Yet another headline wrongdoing: “EU suspends sanctions against most Zimbabwe officials” World Report: Zimbabwean officials

“Every year since 1999, each of the federal legislators or his or her (their) constituency has been voted millions of naira to execute projects in the said constituency.” (The Guardian, March 26)

“UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) is a smoke free (smoke-free) environment committed to gender equality in its mandate and its staff.”

“…immediately available to all Airtel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    pay as you use customers” (Full-page advertisement in The Guardian under review) Amazing data deal: pay-as-you-use customers 

Still on THE SATURDAY NEWSPAPER: “…writes about the live (life) and times of one of Nigeria’s poet (poets), writer (writers) and public speaker (speakers)….”

“We are committed to empower (empowering) women build sustainable business” Both sound clumsy! For headline purposes, why not ‘We’re committed to women empowerment’—let the reader find out the specific area of stakeholder engagement. 

“…as fresh episodes of the enthralling reality show continues (continue) to end in gripping suspense.”

Daily Trust of March 21 played with lexical fire: “Mother, five children die in Kaduna fire outbreak” ‘Fire’ will always break out—it is not magical! Just end it at ‘fire’—away with ‘outbreak’ and ‘incident’! THISDAY of March 22 had a similar headline: “Army: Fire outbreak didn’t occur in COAS’ office”


“THERE is no doubt that Mr. Chimezie Agwu, one of your contributors, is about 35 years ahead of me in knowledge and wisdom. In his reaction last week to my earlier submission that Nigerian writers should always hyphenate the noun ‘vice-president’, he cited several works to drive home the fact that ‘vice-president’ should not be hyphenated. Thank God that Baba, in his typical self, was humble enough to accept that even at 70, he could still be taught. It should be noted that all the works cited by Baba are all of (North) American origin. May I refer Baba Agwu to page 1656 of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (8th and latest edition). If that is not enough, Baba should look up ‘vice-president’ on page 1610 of the Concise English Dictionary. Space will not permit me to cite more. While ‘vice-president’ and ‘vice-presidential’ are hyphenated in these dictionaries, ‘vice chancellor’ and ‘vice admiral’ are not. Do we now say that these dictionaries are wrong? Nigerian writers should, as a matter of principle, hyphenate ‘vice-president’. I insist!  Members of Wordsworth Fan Club have asked: ‘What is the impartial Ebere Wabara’s position on the Matter?’  Let him be the umpire! I am quick to add here that the inimitable Agwu, and Ebere Wabara, the indefatigable defender of lexical purity, are my role models. They teach me what I teach others. If my insistence that Nigerian writers should stick to British English is a wrong assertion, they should be held responsible. I rest my case.”

(Stanley Nduagu/08062925996)

Stanley, the robust debate is still at the high court. When it gets to the apex court, I will intervene!

–Ebere Wabara

“MY good brother, thank you for the nice job you have been doing. The problem is that those who commit these blunders do so out of ignorance, not as a mistake. So, even if they see your corrections, they would never understand the reason for the corrections. Please note that the moment you miss the rudiments from primary and secondary schools, you have missed it forever! That is why some professors write and speak very bad English language. Keep trying. God will help us.” (Ojo Okafor Esq./08055217580)

“YOU are doing a great job. Keep it up. Though ‘nook’ and ‘cranny’ are countable, the approved British English language is ‘(every) nook and cranny’—not nooks and crannies. I know of civil society or civil society groups/organizations and not civil societies as published in Vanguard last week. Present-day grammar recognises ‘presently’ as both ‘soon’ and ‘now’—it’s authoritative. Check Dictionary of Contemporary English for instance. The Chambers Dictionary (2004) defines ‘presently’ as: at present; now; before long; in a while; directly; immediately; necessarily; inevitably; for the time being; at once. Equally, BBC English Dictionary, published by Rex Charles & Patrick Ltd., in association with Africana-FEP Publishers Ltd., agrees. Also note that ‘dual’ (a road) can function as a verb or noun. ‘Parastatal’ (agency) is an adjective and not a noun as Nigerians use it. Finally, Ebere, it may interest you to know full well that, just like Mr. Agwu, I also studied Latin.” (Kenneth Ugbechie)

“MAY God bless you real good for your WORDSWORTH every Wednesday in Jesus’ name. Amen.” (Tony Agbache/08037114150).

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