I have before me a copy of the Thursday, September 15 edition of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist, whose Page 3 has a story with the headline, ‘Hefty penalties await human traffickers in Tanzania’s refined law.’
Therein, our scribbling colleague moves to quote a Parliamentary Committee deputy boss and writes the following:
“It is HIGH TIME that the government SHOULD conduct detailed study and come up with a solution…”
Now, “it is high time” is an expression you use when you wish to say it’s time to do something that should have been done a long time ago. The expression must go with the past tense, period!
It means, our colleague should have written the alleged quotation thus:
“It is HIGH TIME (that) the government CONDUCTED a detailed study and come up with a solution…”
We say, for instance: Now that you’re married, it’s high time you STOPPED behaving like a high school teenager.
In Column 2 of the longish story, the scribbler purports to quote an MP and writes:
“I personally don’t see a reason to provide convicted suspects…A ROOM to negotiate.”
Come Saturday, September 17, and Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet had a story on Page 3 entitled, ‘Government appeals for more investment in media to increase local content’. Therein, in Para 6, the scribbler wrote: “Nnauye said local producers must ensure customs and norms are NEITHER destroyed OR misinformed…”
Neither…or…? No way; we say NEITHER…NOR…Quite basic, isn’t it? Yes, but there we are! If you’re keen on the conjunction OR, then your determiner should be EITHER.
For example: You EITHER ensure our customs and norms are protected OR we consider you a non-patriot!
Page 7 of the same broadsheet has a story whose headline reads, “Plastic surgeons from UK to hone local experts’ skills”.
Towards the end of Column 1, the scribbler writes in reference to what was said by a plastic surgeon, one Dr Navine Cavate:
“According to him, arrived (sic!) in the country last week and HAS BEEN (sic!) conducting THE surgery to patients at Tumbi Hospital…and the operation (sic!) WENT SUCCESSFUL.”
Phew! This is a case, not of poor English, but that of poor thought process and literary recklessness. Poor (if any) proofreading! A recipe for putting off your reader who parted with his hard-earned cash to buy your newspaper, wallah!
Space won’t allow me to give piecemeal remedy to the damaged sentence, so I’ll offer a rewrite instead:
“He said THEY arrived in the country last week and HAVE been conducting SURGERIES at Tumbi Hospital…and the OPERATIONS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL.”
Our colleague reports further on what the surgeon said:
“He said they expect to come again TO (not in) Tanzania to PROVIDE (not conduct) such services after every six months…”
Finally, we’ll share out gems collected from Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet of September 17, courtesy of caption writers for pictures that graced Page 5. Here we go:
• Pedestrians walk beside Tanesco headquarters located on Morogoro Road…The complex was partially demolished to PAVE WAY for the Ubungo Interchange Project in 2017…”
Pave way? No; we say ‘pave THE way…”
• Vice President, Dr Phillip Mpango (FIRST right) is briefed by the Tanzania Education Authority Director General…
• First right? I aver the adjective “first” is most unnecessary. When a subject of your photo is clearly on the right, he’s “first” in that position unless otherwise explained. Second right, third right? That’s okay.
• Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr Ashatu Kijaji speaks to journalists in Dar es Salaam about PRICES rise of important products…
• Prices rise? Nope! We say price RISES. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before in this space: when you convert a noun into an adjective, you don’t pluralise it. Like we’d refer to a person who clean houses a HOUSE (not a houses) cleaner.
Ah, this treacherous language called English!