On Page 5 of the Saturday, November 21, 2020 edition of the tabloid that is most close to this columnist, we have a story smartly entitled, ‘Killer father killed by angry mob’, in which the scribbler writes in her intro:
“A Standard Two pupil aged nine who resides at Kibedya Village in Gairo, CY, has been admitted AT Gairo Health Centre after her alleged biological father tried to cut off her head with a machete. The incident is alleged to have been shrouded WITH belief OF witchcraft.
Here are our observations: One, we don’t admit someone at some health centre or hospital; we admit them TO the same.
Two, matters/things get shrouded IN or BY (not with) this or that. Three, we have in our communities backward persons who entertain stupid beliefs IN (not of) witchcraft.
In Para 5, the scribbler, purporting to quote the Morogoro Police Commander, Wilbroad Mutafungwa, writes the following:
“The father TRIED to kill his daughter and when the wife TRIED to restrain him, he STRANGLED her.”
Let us fuss a bit: why use the verb “tried” twice in such a short sentence?
Our advice to the scribbler would be that she drops one of the “tried” and replace it with “attempted”.
And then, we are aware the father did not kill his daughter, nor did he kill his wife who interfered as he made an attempt to end his own daughter’s life with the use of a machete.
Which is why we have an issues with the use of the verb “strangle”, a word that our dictionary defines as “kill somebody by squeezing or pressing on their throat or neck.” If our colleague was overly eager to use the word in her story, we aver, she should have said the following: “The father TRIED to kill his daughter and when the wife moved to INTERVENE and stop him, he grabbed her neck and attempted to STRANGLE her.”
Yes, he did not manage to terminate his wife’s life by way of strangulation; he simply tried, unsuccessfully, to carry out the heinous act.
On the same day, that is, Saturday, November 21, there is a story in Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet, whose headline is, ‘Drug kingpin to serve 30-year jail term’. In Para 4, the scribbler writes:
“The judge took into consideration the prosecution’s evidence that the drugs were found in Bombo AREA in Tanga City…”
Mark the capped word. We have criticised this kind of usage before; let us do it again today. When you give the name of a place, you need not waste print paper space qualifying it with “area”, more so when it is crystal clear you are talking about an area.
Our counterpart in the Kiswahili media do have this tendency of speaking of “eneo la Bombo”, instead of simply saying “Bombo”. As if that were not bad enough, we have those among us (radio presenters especially) who would ridiculously talk of bbeing a resident of “maeneo ya Bombo” (Bombo areas)!
In Para 9, the scribbler writes further: “Judge Banzi had to determine four issues before reaching INTO such conclusion.”
Reach into a conclusion? Nope; we simply REACH a conclusion.
Furthermore in this story, our scribbling colleague qualifies the word “narcotic” with drugs, as if we have cases in which this thus-named substance is not a drug.
Like he writes in Para 11: “Judge Banzi referred to evidence given by the government chemist, who analysed the DRUGS and confirmed that indeed, they were narcotic DRUGS. Here, instead of saying “narcotic drugs”, the scribbler should simply say, “…they were NARCOTICS.”
Our dictionary defines narcotic as a powerful illegal DRUG that affects the mind in a harmful way. Heroin and cocaine, for instance are NARCOTICS. If we tell our readers that these are “narcotic drugs” we would be indulging in tautological nonsense.
Ah, this treacherous language called English!
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