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Bad Grammar

Posted: Apr 25, 2015 at 1:28 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ebere Wabara


THE NATION ON SUNDAY of April 5 welcomes us today with this wrongdoing: “I escaped death by the whiskers (by a whisker)”

The Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) rounds off its presidential electioneering fiasco with these wrap-around congratulatory blunders: “We congratulate General Muhammadu Buhari for (on/upon) his victory in the just concluded (just-concluded) Presidential election….”

“Polls: World leaders thumb-up for Nigeria” Either: leaders’ thumb-up for Nigeria or leaders thumb up Nigeria

The Guardian Front Page Banner of February 6 takes over from TAN: “Council of States (State) advise INEC to consult on polls”

“Jonathan, Fashola, others mourn late Okoya-Thomas” (THISDAY Front Page Headline, February 3) Why not mourn Okoya-Thomas? Do we mourn someone who is alive?

“APC to boycott BON organized (BON-organized) television debate” (Full-page advertorial by Nigeria Elections Debate Group, January 31)

“Ice blocks (cubes), sachet water, soft drinks imported from Cotonu”

“I have vowed to rebuild our dear state ABIA. We cannot continue to be first only on Alphabets. Join me to rebuild Abia and restore our bartered (battered) dignity. It is a promise I must keep.” (Full-page advertorial signed by the APGA governorship candidate Dr. Alex Otti, OFR)

“Fuel scarcity: FG gives Finance Ministry marching order (orders)”

“In Enugu, masquerade (masquerader) sings gospel song”

“President’s convoy trapped, heavy casualities recorded” Spell-check: casualties

“Fashola allays fear (fear) of post-polls violence in Lagos” (THE NATION Front Page Sub-headline, March 31)

From Vanguard of March 20 comes the next set of slip-ups this week: “Over 350 experts from 30 countries are expected to converge in (on) Lagos come (in) November for the annual (yearly, preferably) Nigeria Hotel and Tourism International Conference.”

“…the AYC trophy which has eluded the country for sometime (some time) now.”

“Even a child in this nation knows that the police derives (derive) its (their) enabling and operational authority from the dictates of the Centre….” The paper’s Metro Section institutionalized this same lexical bondage in one of its headlines: “In Kano, Police allegedly shoots (sic) tanker driver over bribe” Its Editorial was equally not left out in this particular police howler: “Nigerians would no doubt be happier to hear from the Nigerian Police what it is (they are) doing to enhance its (their) capacity….”


The Pentecostal faithful introduced “send-forth” to denote the “sending forth” of their ministers on evangelism. Sadly, some of us
have ignorantly adopted the phrase when a retiring worker is being feted or sent off. A referee equally “sends off” a culpable player.
I notice that parents contribute greatly to the poor use of English.
For instance, they, including educated ones, ask their children to
“on” or “off” the tap, fan or generating set. These words are prepositions that are being made to do the work of verbs such as “switch” or “turn” on the television set etc.
Similarly, the parents ask their wards, who eventually grow up learning bad grammar, to bring out the “packer” instead of the
“dustpan” to collect dust/waste. Now this! An educated neighbour tells her son to give her the “mopper” instead of “mop” (both noun and verb). God help me! Dear brother, keep educating them.

With due respect, the headline “NLC splits in (not into) two, as
another faction emerges” is correct. Wordsworth in The Nation, March22, Page 66, refers. Please, look up “split sth in two” on Page 1697 and “cut sth in half/two” on Page 416 of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (New Edition) for Advanced Learners.

Uncle Tunji Oseni was the Editor-in-Chief of OPEC News Agency (OPECNA) with the late James Audu as the Head of Information, when I worked as its Nigeria’s Liaison Correspondent (1985-1987). You were absolutely right in your tribute to him. May his soul continue to rest in peace. (KOLA DANISA, 07068074257)                                                                                                                                     Editors at The Nation newspaper must have, on March 29, Page 12, been overwhelmed by the enormity of poll-related news stories that they passed “al-Makura CASTED his vote”. The word “cast” either in the past tense or past participle is CAST. Also on the same page, the paper stated that “voters troop out EN MASS in Suleja”. It should have read EN MASSE (with an E after mass). But for how long should journalists be reminded that “underaged” and “overaged” are outside known dictionaries. Sunday Vanguard, March 29, Front Page, refers. “Underage” and “overage”, both adjectives, are the approved uses. However, “middle-aged” (with a “d”) is correct. (Credit: as above)

EBERE, I am happy to say that many of our colleagues are beginning to appreciate the objective of your column. Congratulations! (SUNNY AGBONTAEN, 08062998165)

“OUR economy which was adjudged the best in (on) the continent….” And this: “Our politicians need to get their acts (act) together” (STANLEY NDUAGU, 08062925996) The next two interventions are also from Nduagu.

The Government of Ebonyi State of Nigeria circulated the following grammatical errors in its full-page advertorial on page 10 of the Daily Sun of Thursday, March 26, 2015:

…government has sustained the payment of salaries and allowances to workers ‘as at when due’ (as and when due).

This is, therefore, not the time to ‘demand for’ (demand) salary increase in any form.

…its policy of ‘labour friendly’ (labour-friendly) relations…

…which informed the ‘strike action’. (yank off the noun ‘action’)

…a rally which was addressed by the ‘ambitious gubernatorial’ candidate. Is there any guber candidate that is not ambitious?

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room unveils “it’s” (its) Election Situation Room. Are you embarassed by the above error? Please blame it on the election fever.



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