The Sun News

Misquoting Goodluck Jonathan

“ALUMNI holds (hold) economic summit, science prize day in Imo” (Oriental News, November 29) Alumni hold, but alumni association holds….

“Jonathan dismisses Abdullahi’s book as ‘sore’ (sour) grapes, full of lies, gossip” (THISDAY Front Page, December 2)

“One on one (One-on-one) session with Atiku Abubakar” (THISDAY Back Page Headline, December 2)

“Herdsmen kill four (4 preferably for headline discipline) policemen as army (the army) repel attacks on Numan” (Source: as above)

“After some uncertainties at the beginning of the season (a comma) Arsenal fans are becoming optimistic that the Premier League title is still achievable after enjoying run (a run) of victories in recent weeks.” (Global Soccer, December 2)

“Is anti-graft war still on course with alleged relooting (re-looting) of recovered loots (loot)” ‘Loot’ is uncountable. (DAILY SUN Your View, December 4)

“If there will be crisis (a crisis) in PDP (a comma) it won’t be as worse (bad) as the one we have surmounted….” (DAILY SUN Politics & Power, December 4)

“EU, AU Summit: Harnessing partnership potentials (potential or potentialities—never ‘potentials’ because it is non-count). (DAILY SUN OPINION Page Headline, December 4)

“Cattle rustling: Masari launches animal tracking (animal-tracking) device” (Arewa News, December 4)

“Lagos clamps down on walkways (walkway) traders, hawkers” (News around the city, December 4)

“The seven bank chief executives currently being investigated by the EFCC for their alleged racketeering roles in the current pension fund scam have been placed under security watch to forestall them escaping outside the country.” A rewrite to save time and space: The seven bank chief executives being investigated by the EFCC for their alleged racketeering roles in the current pension fund scam have been placed under security watch to forestall their escape from the country. The copious blunders in the extract remind me of inflectional Middle English!

“Assailant, vigilante member die in gun duel” Get it right: vigilance member. Alternatively: Assailant, vigilante die in gun duel.

“INEC official arrested over ‘missing’ ballot papers” Truth in defence of freedom: ‘arrest’ takes ‘for’—not ‘over’!

“Woman arrested with AK-47, 148 live ammunitions” The last word in the extract is uncountable. The Old English (Anglo-Saxon) period is gone!

“This will remove the possibility of passing the bulk (buck)” No pedestrian English.

“The organized private sector took the bull by the horn recently….” For a better society: take the bull by the horns.

“Britain handed over the reigns of power to the politicians.” Modern English: reins of government.

“One even wonders why government did not adopt that method from the onset (outset).”

Feedback

Re: Growing grammatical challenge

I write in response to your request asking for elucidation on the frequent grammatical errors observed in our dailies. I must thank you for taking pains to highlight these challenges; for which reason, some expressions people come across in our dailies had been taken to be correct not knowing that most of these expressions represent a wrong use of the language (grammar-wise, in particular).

There are reasons for such wrong expressions and a few of them are as follows:

Poor reading culture;

Writers adapt the language to their prevailing localities for ease of communication and understanding;

Recycling of expressions come across in the dailies without knowing how poor such expressions are;

People hide under the cover of ‘English as a second language’ to commit grammatical murders;

People not well tutored in the use of grammar; the backbone of any language;

Poor editing of works, from working for long hours;

Proliferation of emergency media houses with the possible engagement of hacks to do hatchet jobs;

Undue attention to the issue of return on investment (ROI);

Attention not paid to the need to engage the services of qualified graduates of English language to crosscheck all the edited works in the quality evaluation department (QED) of the media houses;

An enduring local stereotype which takes grandiloquence and long speeches to mean grammar;

Disregard for and a poor grasp cum application of the basic rules of grammar;

Underrating of the growing sophistication of the readership regularly treated to grammatical menu of poor quality;

Differences in language between expressions in good novels and newspaper expressions;

The prevailing socio-political system conditions the use and type of expressions much in vogue;

People do not have access to high quality materials to read;

Growing socio-economic pressure occasioning distractions and inability to pay attention to laid-down rules governing good expressions;

The uncritical attachment to some authors or writers whose works are taken to be beyond reproach.

18. A piece of work is not deserving of accolades (however well it is presented) if only informative and not roundly didactic. A kind of error which derives from not taking a holistic view of the overall functions which any piece of work is supposed to perform;

19. The possibility that a commercial balance between payment and value for money is not considered an integral part of the equation;

20. Things stagnate and nothing works or thrives in the absence of any motivation. Reward for greater accomplishments is enough incentive to do more. In that wise, the internal mechanisms which are needed to give the quality of work the necessary tonic or elixir should be activated at all times;

21. Failure to see a piece of work as a part of us; and by the fact of being a part of us, part of our growth. Therefore, every piece of work is a growth factor;

22. Being unaware of the fact that all about our works reflect our personality types and therefore are our unique selling points (USP).  

Mr. Wabara, the above is the extent to which I can contribute to the discourse. Please, consider for publication in your esteemed column; with the hope that media outfits would benefit from the points raised; and readers made to have value for their money!

L. N’Obode

(081 6123 6077)

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