– The Sun News

‘Loot’ uncountable

THISDAY Front Page of December 9 welcomes us today with three headline faults: “US, Switzerland sign agreement to return $621m Abacha, Alamieyeisegha (Alamieyesiegha) loots” Truth & Reason: ‘loot’ is uncountable.

Another banner blunder from the above edition: “In make or mar (make-or-mar) chairmanship election, Secondus is frontrunner.”

“INEC confirms dates for 2019 general elections (election).” In the extracted environment, ‘election’ is non-count.

“QRC Abuja Alumnae celebrates (celebrate) friendship, achievement.”

“A delegate of the PDP in Ogun State…slumped and died in the early hours of Thursday in an hotel in Abeokuta, the state capital.” This is certainly the old school genre. New class: a hotel.

“Police absolves security agencies of electoral fraud” It would be astounding for the Nigeria Police to indict fellow state gangsters! And, of course: police absolve (not absolves).

THE PUNCH opinion pages of December 11 circulated some unpardonable mistakes: “…even if it means going extra miles….” I will go the extra mile (note the fixed expression) to ensure that this column appears unfailingly every week.

“And like (as) someone said recently…”

“…in the evacuation of dead bodies to mortuary.” On a clinical note: corpses instead of ‘dead bodies’ and a mortuary or mortuaries, depending on the fact of the matter.

“…as well as condoning the place and evacuating the dead and survivors to nearest health facilities.” Bomb blasts and conflicting figures: cordoning off (take note of the spelling and correct entry) the place.

“There seems (seem) to be stiff competitions among the foreign media and local press as well as….”

“…politicians are also culprits in overheating the system with provocative statements in blaming their opponents over (for) every misdeed.”

“…the likely antics of masquerades behind some of those disasters when one juxtaposes the scenario to the forthcoming general elections (general election—not elections).” Additionally: juxtaposes the scenario and/with (not to) the forthcoming general election. As voter registration begins any moment from next year, let us carry out our civic duty by participating and being our brother’s keeper (not brothers’ keepers, irrespective of the number)!

Let us welcome last week’s edition of this medium, which contained a few errors and thereafter a cocktail of nondescript infelicities from the mass media: “Baring few skirmishes which regrettably led to the death of four persons….” An anatomy of the season of linguistic violence: there is a world of distinction between ‘a few’ (which correctly applies here) and ‘few’, which connotatively suggests an expectation of more skirmishes—except if the writer has a weird denotative inclination towards potentialities for more skirmishes! Otherwise, the extract is lexically absurd because of his regret.    

“Just imagine a young man that rounded up his apprenticeship as a welder.”  This is an indication of the current malaise in scholarship: a situation where a lecturer cannot distinguish between phrasal verbs, ‘round up’ and ‘round off’ (which applies here).

“Will anybody please let us know which country became a super-power by allowing its best brains to roam about the world?”  ‘Roam’ encompasses ‘about’.

“News from the universities are no longer about innovation.…” News is news (uncountable).

“The condition, which is said to be due to an abnormality in either the number or structure of the chromosomes, cuts across every races.”  Get it right: every race or all races.

“Janet, a twelve-year-old and the third child of her parents’ four offsprings and the only one with the problem…” ‘Offspring’ is non-count.

“Since 1993, funding of oil explorations have (has) been beset by different levels of problems.”

“In answering this question we classify the outcomes into long term and short term implications.”  The greatest problem of journalists: unnecessary embellishment (outcome) of words.

“This is clearly a danger signal as the time between discovering an oil field and commercially putting it on stream could be between four to five years.”  No analysis: between four and five or from four to five years.

“THISDAY checks reveal that every termination penalties goes from 500,000 US dollars to 2 million US dollars”.  Check the discord as already discussed above.

“Lack of funds cripple waste management activities” Another error of attraction: Lack of funds cripples.

“Nevertheless, the donor country is also interested in this decision to ensure that the loan is repaid as at when due with its accrued interest.” Without any periscope: the loan is repaid when due (not as at when due which is pleonastic).

“Government should consider the destructive effect that further delay in the sale of rescued banks would mete out on the banking system”.  Stock phrase: mete out to (not on) the banking system.

“If the family cannot truely relish at least a decent meat….” Spelling counts: truly.

“A man does not have to be a money bag (sic) before he can dress well and look charming in his own little way.” Brighten up your English usage: A man does not have to be a moneybags….  ‘Moneybag’ is a sac!

“…in addition, (sic) to dispensing drugs for immediate relief and giving counsel on the steps necessary to prevent a reoccurrence.” Good grammar: recurrence.

“…it sent the signal that those responsible for the security of lives and properties in Oyo State are working at cross-purposes”. Some caution, please: life and property (preferably or lives and property). ‘Property’, in this context, is uncountable.

“The arsonists usually escape with their loot as the embattled market lays in ashes, leaving many traders terminally ruined financially.” There should be no dilemma: ‘lays’ for ‘lies’?

“If somebody had told me when I met with late Dr. Ernest Ogunade shortly before his death that it was going to be the last encounter with him.…”  The first and only time when I met (not with) the (vital article) late Dr. Ogunade he commended this column as published in the heyday of Daily Times profusely. May his cerebral soul continue to rest in peace (not ‘perfect peace’ as abused in Nigeria)!

“I still remember vividly that when it was my turn to speak at the occasion….”  I thought we had gone past this stage: on (never at) the occasion.


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