A misstep in the use of the preposition can lead to disastrous falsification of your message. Just look, for instance, at the story appearing in the Sat, Sept 1 edition of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet. It’s entitled, ‘Three held over assaulting Dar resident’, and intro reads:
“The police in Dar es Salaam have swiftly acted on a report of severe assault OF three militia (sic) on a Dar es Salaam resident after he failed to pay a fine…”
Assault OF three militia…? Nope! Why, the preposition “of” gives the meaning that three city askaris were victims of the said assault, which isn’t true! The truth is, there was a “report of severe assault BY three militia (sic)…”
By the way, Bongo scribblers seem to have endorsed the word “militia” as referring to some individual/individuals. But then, all the dictionaries we’ve consulted educate us that militia means “a group of people who aren’t professional soldiers but who’ve had military training and can act as an army.”
Which is to say, persons like those thuggish persons who were videotaped beating up a hapless city resident should—if anything—be referred to as militiamen/ militiawomen (not just, “militia”).
On Page 2 of the same edition, there’s a story headlined, ‘Local traders fail to supply frozen beef, says chef’, in which the scribbler says in Para 2:
“Chef (sic) of Hyatt Regency, Mr Cyril Dieumegard disclosed this in Dar…” In Para 4, the scribbler writes, “Mr Cyril also added that…”
In Para 7, our colleague further writes: “Hyatt Regency Marketing and Communications executive Ms Lillian Kisasa, said this during a press conference…” In the next Para, he writes: “Ms LILLIAN also added that…”
Mr CYRIL for Mr Cyril Dieumegard, and Ms LILLIAN for Ms Lillian Kisasa? Nope! Why, our colleague has violated etiquette, which is part of proper communication—at least with regard to the English language. These two Hyatt officials are Mr Dieumegard and Ms Kisasa (not Mr Cyril and Ms Lillian)!
And then, the tabloid closely associated with this columnist (Fri, Aug 31 edition) has a story headlined, “Campaign against bilharzia launched’, and the scribbler thus reports: “FOR HIS SIDE, Dar Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda said…”
For his side? Nope! That’s Kiswahili—kwa upande wake. In English we say: “For HIS PART…”
And then, the scribbler, referring to Mr Makonda, writes: “…The COMMISSIONER revealed that preparations are at an advanced stage. “The commissioner” for regional commissioner? That’s new to us! Why not simply, the RC?
And finally, our esteemed reader, Mr Weston Tawonezvi , emailed to point at what we purported to be a correction for the sentence, “…I started to STAND up ON MY FEET”, as used by a Sunday broadsheet scribbler. In our rewrite, we suggested that the scribbler should’ve said “…I started to RAISE to my feet”.
Mr Tawonezvi said we goofed, for the sentence should be: “…as I started to RISE (not raise) to my feet…”
Our response: “Guilty as charged…and thank you, Weston, for the apt intervention.”
Ah, this treacherous language called English!
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