Clarity is the hallmark of journalistic communication—your audience should be able to understand what you’re saying without having to torment their brains. That explains why media tutors constantly preach the essence of brevity and simplicity. Use short sentences as opposed to long, convoluted ones.
Having thus lectured—sorry—let’s now do what this column is basically all about, namely, sharing linguistic gems. So, here we go…
We start with what we picked up from Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet of Sat, Sept 8. In a Page 1 picture featuring the President, there’re insets of headshots of persons whose skins have been damaged by contaminated river water, and the caption reads:
“Victims of USERS of water contaminated by gold mine pollution of Tigiti river in Tarime that President John Magufuli want THE LIGHT to be turned on the MATTER.” Space constraint doesn’t allow us to rewrite this mumbo jumbo of a caption; please do it yourself, reader.
On Page 3 of the same edition, there’s a story headlined, ‘Minister: Task force formed to probe irregular sugar imports’. Therein, MP Diodorus Kamala is reported as taking to task the Trade minister over improper sugar imports by crooked businessmen. The scribbler thus writes in para 4:
“According to him, to carry out their illegal business, the traders have been repackaging the SUGAR in LOCAL materials to make THEM look like local ONES.” Something is seriously wrong with the use of pronouns THEM and ONES, so let’s do a partial rewrite: “…the traders have been repackaging the SUGAR in LOCALLY BRANDED BAGS to make IT (not “them”) look like it was produced in Tanzania.”
On Fri, Sept 7, the tabloid closely associated with columnist has a story on Page 3 entitled, ‘TRA to invest Sh19.5bn in civil servants (sic) houses’ and the following is what the scribbler says in the last para:
“The low-income houses are sold at between Sh38 million and Sh49 million…while VILLA HOUSES price stands at Sh330 million.”
Villa houses? The qualifier “houses” is totally useless, for a villa can’t be anything other than a house. Our dictionary defines “villa” as a HOUSE that people stay on holiday/vacation or a HOUSE in the countryside with a large garden.
On Page 27 of the same edition, there’s a story entitled, ‘World swimming body endorses TSA leaders’. The gems in this story are so glittering we’ll just deliver them without offering analyses. Here we go:
• World Swimming Association has finally endorsed Tanzania Swimming Association leaders (TSA) who came to THE POWERS OF August 26;
• For not less than three months, all swimming activities in the country were under heavy CROWD;
• The NSC was given the mandate to supervise the game following the EXPIRE of the interim committee;
• The CURRENTLY chairman for TSA is Imani Alimanyanya;
• Fina President GAVE THE BEST WISHES for the success of THE future sports projects of the TSA…
Ah, this treacherous language called English!