OUR KIND OF ENGLISH: Of prompt ‘follows-up’ after ‘handsover’ ceremony!

Sunday October 6 2019


By Abdi Sultani

Before us is the Fri, Sept 20 edition of the huge Nairobi tabloid that enjoys a substantial readership in Bongo. It’s carrying a story on Page 1 that turns to Page 10, entitled, ‘Love lies: When love turns TO murder’. A Kinondoni reader, one Mr WM, drew our attention to this one, noting that the preposition between “turns” and “murder” is INTO, not TO. We agree.

Why, when you say “turns to…” it’s like you’re suggesting that someone called “Love” chooses “murder”! You may say, for instance, “When the lion faces starvation, it TURNS TO GRASS for food.”

“Turning INTO”, however, refers to a situation where one thing changes to something else, like when air turns INTO water at very low temperatures.

On Page 10, the story continues and the scribbler writes: “In March this year, a magistrate, Pauline Maisy Chesang’, was arraigned IN COURT over the murder of her husband…” The scribbler uses the expression “arraigned in court” at least twice in his story, which is to say, he’s confident it’s correct!

Well, it’s not, because “arraign” in itself means “taking somebody to court”, rendering saying “arraigned in court” an indulgence in tautological nonsense.

Still in Nairobi, wherein we’ve the Sun, Sept 22 edition of the same huge tabloid with a Page 1 story entitled, ‘Sonko men arrested for blocking Uhuru’, in which the summary reads: “In a dramatic escalation of the troubles facing Nairobi Governor, his two drivers have been charged in court FOR using official cars to slow down and block President Uhuru Kenyatta’s motorcade…” Charged for…? Nope! Why, suspects are charged WITH committing an offence. Before that, the same suspects would’ve been arrested FOR allegedly committing a crime.


And now, we come back to Dar where we’ve a story in Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet of Sat, Sept 14, entitled, ‘VP praised for her stance on Zanzibar Presidency’, in which the scribbler says in Para 5:

“Last month Ms Suluhu Hassan TOLD CRUSHED (sic) speculations on social media that she was intending to succeed Dr Shein when his time WOULD expire.”

A note on etiquette here: Our VP isn’t Ms Suluhu Hassan; she’s Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan, and, in subsequent references, you may call her Ms Hassan (the surname).

We’ll avoid fussing and simply rewrite the sentence thus: “Last month Ms Hassan CRUSHED speculations on social media that she intended to succeed Dr Shein when his time EXPIRES.”

On Page 5 of the same edition, there’s a photo whose caption reads, “Manyoni DC Rahaba Mwagisha expresses joy after receiving computers...during a brief HANDSOVER ceremony at Mwanza Secondary. School…” Handsover ceremony? Nope; we say HANDOVER ceremony.

Finally, we’ve a gem from Page 5 of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist, thanks to a story entitled, ‘Water authority officials removed over negligence’, in which the scribbler says in Para 5, “Out of the Sh126 million which was disbursed by the government … Sh26 million was for making FOLLOWS-UP…”

Follows-up? A-a! The plural for follow-up is FOLLOW-UPS.

Ah, this treacherous language called English!