Sunday, 23 July 2017

Pop Errors in English, writers beware

                      By Bayo Ogunmupe
    Pop Errors in English, writers beware is Segun Omolayo's contribution to Nigerian education and enlightenment in this knowledge driven age. Omolayo, a United Nations trained draftman and analyst wrote the book while serving as a UN diplomat. Pop errors in English unpacks, articulates and examines popular errors writers commit in various ways. The book discusses rules often violated by writers and suggests ways to avoid them. It explains why what is right is right and what is wrong. The author emphasizes how to enhance writers' use of the English language  for effective communication. The author imparts the skills and techniques that separates the tutored  from the untrained  instinctive writers.
      This book is for journalists, legal and legislative draft men, editors of journals and newspapers and diplomats. Pop Errors in English is paperback; published in 2017, it has 558 pages a preface, twelve chapters and three pages of references. In his capacity as a reporter and draft man  for the United Nations, Omolayo has written a great deal, edited, re-written and analysed diverse texts from various fields. It is through such  rich exposure that he was able to identify the errors in this book.
    Omolayo explains applicable principles and rules; suggesting improvements  with copious examples, some of which I shall show you anon. The book aims to share with you- writing skills, tools and principles. It demonstrates that little things matter just as we unconsciously destroy our mother tongues and good English through government promotion of pidgin English which belongs to no ethnic grouping. The correction of these errors shows editing sensitivities that a good writer must be mindful of.
    The following examples are being paraphrased for brevity and judicious use of space to enable me cover as many examples as possible. On redundancy, the author explains it as a phrase, clause, sentence or text in any word or group of words considered unnecessary, in the sense that it can be removed without detracting the meaning. This means, such a word or phrase has no function in the sentence; it neither adds value nor meaning. Sources of redundancies are rampart. They include: tautology- which refers to the repetition of words.
    Verbosity- this comes when you use too many words where fewer would convey the same meaning. Next comes circumlocution- meaning that you are simply beating about the bush. Grammarians consider circumlocutions dangerous because they 'shut down readers'. Here are examples of circumlocutions: "I agree with the idea,"(instead of I agree.); "during the time that", (when); "in view of the fact that", (because); "within the framework of," (in); " within the context of," (regarding); "for the purpose of," (to); "in order to" (to); "in the event that," ( if); " in the field of," (in); "in the year 2012" ( in 2012); "until such time," (until); " and prior to" (before).
    Though sources of redundancies are legion, let us see how they arise, how they affect conversations and how they can be cured; using examples drawn different writings. Here we go: A two day workshop, organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Peace Building Office on Conflict sensitivity with the theme "Strengthening Government Capacity  in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development," began in katata on 12 February. Since the purpose of the phrase: "on conflict sensitivity" is to distinctly identify the workshop, that has been adequately done by the theme.  Thus, the phrase is a repetition; which should be removed.
    So the message above sounds better as: A two day workshop, organized by the Ministry of Justice and the Peace Building Office with the theme: Strengthening Government Capacity in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development" began in Kakata on 12 February.
    Malapropism is another writer's headache. It is the misuse of certain words instead of another. This is an amusing mistake somebody makes  when they use a word which sounds similar to the word they wanted to use, but means something different. Webster's Dictionary called it a ludicrous misuse of words. A writer desirous of conveying  precise meaning will do his best to avoid malapropisms.  
    Great writers appreciate correct choice of words or ideas by noting that the synonyms of the same word will not always convey the same meaning. This means a writer must spare no effort to perfect his diction. Here is an example of malapropism: Consummation of honey by humans has rules and regulations. Consummation means completion of something, which is why it isn't appropriate. Actually, consummation goes with the action of making a marriage  complete by having coitus.
      Consumption, which is the appropriate word means, the action of eating or drinking something. This is a very good book for speech writers and press secretaries.It will cut down much of the tautology that goes for journalism and broadcasting inNigeria today. Omolayo has written, reviewed and edited scripts for decades. He is a former Nigerian diplomat, he is a registered advertiser and broadcaster.

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