‘Submerged in water’? Never!

“CUSTOMS intercepts 11 truck loads (truck-loads) of foreign rice, other prohibited items” ‘Contraband’ instead of ‘other prohibited items’

“Lagos as a cosmopolitan city, a Yoruba state alright but home to people of diverse backgrounds.” Threats to non-indigenes in Lagos: ‘alright’ is not right for ‘all right’—which is formal/standard.

“We must begin now to extricate ourselves from such bondage if we must forward as a nation.” Get it right: from such a bondage or from such bondages, depending on intended context. Do you understand, as my history lecturer in UNILAG, the late Dr. Hakeem Haruna, used to say?                                                                                                  

“Highbrow Lekki, VGC and Ajah areas were completely submerged in water, obliterating the boundaries between land and sea” An area is submerged only by water or any other liquid. ‘Submerged in water’ is demonstrative of stark illiteracy!

“Zaria Athletics Grand Prix kicks off with pomp and pageantry” Write correctly: kicks off in (not ‘with’) pomp and ceremony or circumstance.

THISDAY, THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER of March19, offered its readers multifarious solecisms: “Despite the challenge of insecurity that Kano, a city well known for its trade and commerce, have (has) had to grapple with in recent times….”

“A book unveiling Lagos as a city of imagination…was presented to the general public at Muson Centre recently.” Yank away ‘general,’ which belongs to the archival civil service lexicon and a testament to commercialese!

“…who currently represents Akwa Ibom South senatorial district in the Senate….” Delete ‘currently’ as it has no function here. Cicero interview: who represented—represents—will represent…so, ‘currently’ is otiose in the context. Akpabio who represents….

“Ondo Election Tribunal: Same song, different dancers” Politics: The same tune, different dancers

Now The Guardian of March 19: “Thus the proposal is an affront on (to) the sensibility of Nigerians….”

From the editorial to a full-page advertorial by PSN: “The NEC and Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria announces the inauguration of it’s (sic) president” As men of honour we join hands: its president.

“On a day he is not in the courtroom, he would be in his office, attending to myriad (a myriad) of visitors and clients with almost an equal warmth and kindness.” Remove ‘an’ if you have a passion for language purity.

Lastly from the Back Page of The Guardian under review: “Issues like this have made us suffer….” This way: Issues like these or an issue like this!

THISDAY of March 18 did not abide by truth and reason which it professes: “Prosperity doesn’t come in a day as I have (had) indicated earlier….”

“Some entrepreneurs often make mistake of not having detailed plans.” The ubiquity of an error: a mistake.

Now THISDAY of March 18: “…the measles vaccine were (was) not in sufficient quantity at the primary health care centre where they are (were) mostly needed.”

“…parents to show concern in having their children immunized as at when due (take off ‘as at’ and make it simply when due).

The Guardian of March 19 committed some infractions: “Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) (retd)….”

“President Buhari who is apparently still smarting from global scathing criticisms of a recent presidential pardon for some yesteryears’ men will face….” Conscience, Nurtured by Truth: yesteryear’s men because ‘yesteryear’ is non-count.

“NEMA alerts on (to) imminent flood”

“NEMA flood relief (flood-relief) efforts gulp N1.3bn in 2012”

“In spite of government declarations and promises, the plight of pensioners are (is) deteriorating.”


Please, do remember that a teacher is a student. I’m a student of the language. In fact, I’m good at languages, having studied Latin, English and German. Besides, nobody is too old to learn. I’m pushing 75 years now! Please, tell my good old friend, Stanley Nduagu (08062925996), to get his act together. “Vice president”, like vice admiral, vice chairman, vice chancellor, vice consul, vice presidency, vice principal, vice regent, vice secretary, is NOT hyphenated, only “vice president-elect” and “vice-presidential” are hyphenated. I refer you to Merriam Webster Dictionary, page 583 and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLE BOOK, PAGE 209.

Another note on usage: “In 1789, John Adams (1797-1801) was elected as the nation’s first vice president (1789-1797). When George Washington (1789-1797) refused to run for a third term, Adams was elected president, with his arch enemy Thomas Jefferson as his vice president,”—from THE BOOK OF PRESIDENTS”, Page 13.

“The vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, declined to run again. President Washington, Vice Presidents John Jones and William Smith” are formal titles.

Furthermore (informal context), it is VICE (vice president) in British English and VISE (vise president) in American English. “Vice pres” is sometimes used as the abbreviation for VICE PRESIDENT. 

And from ACADEMY LTD came this letter: “Good day” (Good afternoon) Mr. Ebere Wabara. I show my appreciation once again. Please let your readers know that “presently” connotes “soon” when it comes at the end of a sentence. Once it starts a sentence, it means “at the moment.”—Charles Iyoha.

My response: Ebere, please tell Iyoha that “good day” is very old-fashioned even in Britain! Besides, the word is becoming extinct. Hence, we correctly say or write: good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night.

PRESENTLY: some people object to the increasingly frequent use of the adverb “presently” in place of “currently/at present”, or “NOW” E.g. Mr. Neil Kinnock, presently leader of the opposition. The company presently manufactures components for the electronics industry.

Truth to tell, the principal meaning of “presently” in British English is “SOON”. E.g. we walked on a little further and presently we reached the hotel. I will phone him presently.  From GOOD WORD GUIDE, page 231: “Presently” means (1) after a short time, e.g. presently we left the table and sat in the garden room (Evelyn Waugh). (2) At present, currently, now, e.g. the praise presently being heaped upon him (is well deserved). – THE ECONOMIST – THE OXFORD GUIDE TO ENGLISH USAGE (page 124).

I repeat, “at present” means” currently “or “now”, while “presently” means “soon”. Remember, “Nothing is final in language or usage, and there is no ultimate authority or academy. We can only recommend, not prescribe,” asserts Margot Butt, author of “A Dictionary of English USAGE”. Ebere, there are many problems in paradise; one of them is the English language. Please, work harder!

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