OUR KIND OF ENGLISH: Angry buffalo ‘discharges’ at ‘wielding’ villagers

Sunday September 1 2019

FRIENDY MECH for friendly match? POLIC TANZANA

FRIENDY MECH for friendly match? POLIC TANZANA for Police Tanzania/Tanzania Police? Trust signwriters! PHOTO|AMS 

By Abdi Sultani

A reader from Mbezi Beach in Dar communicated to us, requesting that we remind our media colleagues that, when you say “one of” the key subject of your sentence is plural.

He notes that it’s currently commonplace to read/hear this: “He’s one of the musicians who IS doing well.” And from the Kiswahili media, you /hear this: “Yeye ni mmoja wa wanamuziki ANAYEFANYA vizuri.” Wrong!

He points that the correct way to say that is: “He’s one of the musicians who ARE doing well./Yeye ni mmoja wa wanamuziki WANAOFANYA vizuri.” We agree.

Let’s now move on and share gems collected from recent editions of the English press, so, here go…

Page 13 of the Fri, Aug 23 publication of the tabloid associated with this columnist, has a story entitled, ‘Miss Tanzania 2019: All set for the battle of the beauties’, and therein the scribbler says in Para 6: “The first RUNNER will take home a sofa set worth Sh2.2 million while the third will be awarded Sh1 million AND FOURTH Sh500,000.”

There’s no need to point out what the goofing here’s all about, having highlighted the same in caps. We’ll simply offer a rewrite thus: “The first RUNNER-UP (not just “runner”) will take home a sofa set worth Sh2.2 million while the third will be awarded Sh1 million AND the FOURTH WILL GET Sh500,000.”


Come Sat, Aug 24, and Page 2 of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet had a story headlined, ‘Stray buffalo sends Mpanda villagers RUN helter-skelter’. Oops! We’ve a problem in the headline itself, for it should have read: ‘Stray buffalo sends villagers RUNNING (not “run”) helter-skelter’; or, ‘Stray buffalo makes villagers RUN helter-skelter’ or ‘Stray buffalo forces villagers TO RUN helter-skelter’.

To compound the damage, there’re quite a few more goofs in the text too. For instance, the intro reads: “Pandemonium broke out recently…when a Buffalo (sic) strayed into people’s RESIDENTS, where they mistook it TO BE a fully grown hybrid bull.”

There’re issues with the words we’ve capitalised, so, we’ll provide a rewrite without further ado: “…a buffalo strayed into people’s AREAS OF RESIDENCE where they mistook it FOR (not “to be”) a fully grown hybrid bull.” Or, simply, “HOUSES” instead of “areas of residence”?

In any case, if we’re to go by our Oxford Dictionary, a residence (forget about “residents”) means “a house, especially a large and impressive one.”

In Para 3, the scribbler reports: “The growing noise and WIELDS forced the animal to DISCHARGE at some and trampled on those who could not run fast enough.” Oops, again!

What were heard in the area were WAILS (not “wields”) that forced the animal to CHARGE (not “discharge”) at some people.”

In Para 6, our fellow scribble writes: “ON HER SIDE, another Shamwe Street resident, Ms Neema Noel, said that she got surprised…”

On her side? A-a! As we’ve said it a zillion times in this space, this is Kiswanglish—kwa upande wake! The correct phrase is,” FOR HER PART…”

Ah, this treacherous language called English!

Send your photos and linguistic gems to email abdisul244@gmail.com or WhatsApp on Tel No 0688315580.