The adjectives HISTORICAL and HISTORIC sound rather similar to the ear of the listener. It is no wonder that many scribblers use them interchangeably, like they both mean the same thing. But the truth is, their meanings differ.
We have had the opportunity to explain them here before, but since their misuse keeps rearing its ugly head in our newspapers, including this one whose scribblers and gatekeepers get a copy of the same for free, I will do a revisit. Trust the mwalimu in me!
In a recent piece of his article that touched on Zanzibar, a columnist wrote: “We visited the HISTORIC Stone Town…” He was referring a magical section of one of the Clove islands, established in the 14th Century. The Waswahili call this section of Unguja, Mji Mkongwe (literally, Old Town).
Let me assert: Stone Town is not a “historic” town; rather, it is a HISTORICAL town. The adjective “historical” defines something that had been there long time ago, something that is connected with the past, like Stone Town.
On the other hand, “historic” is used to describe an event that has taken/is taking place, whose significance is so great it is likely to be thought of as important in the future.
And now, we proceed to the task of sharing gems unearthed over the past week in the Bongo English press.
I will start with this longish, educative article appearing on Pages 10-11 of the tabloid that is associated with this columnist, entitled, ‘Did JPM seal the fate of large-scale mining investment?’
Therein is a para in which the scribbler asks a question which he proceeds to answer himself: “Was Magufuli successful in getting what he wanted? Well, there were some challenges. Maybe the legislative changes were TOO excessive to SCARE away even good intentioned investors.”
Note how the wrong use of a conjunction or preposition can end up distorting a writer’s message! When you say “too excessive to scare away investors”, you are suggesting that scaring investors was a desirable thing, something that the legislative changes aimed to achieve, but it didn’t happen! I bet what the scribbler aimed to say is, “the legislative changes were TOO excessive, AND SCARED away even good intentioned investors.”
In the Saturday, October 16 edition of the above tabloid, there is a story on Page 2 entitled, ‘Sabaya mulls appealing 30-year jail term’. Therein, the scribbler writes in Para 10: “Sabaya and his bodyguard…committed armed robbery on February 9, after handcuffing and beating Bakari Msangi…and ROBBING Sh390,000 from him.”
It bores me to repeat what I have ranted about a zillion times before in this very space: I reiterate: you don’t rob MONEY (or things/properties); instead, you rob PEOPLE OF their money (things/properties). You rob a bank, not the money kept in bank.
And finally, a look at what we obtained from Page 4 of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet of Saturday, October 16. In a story with the headline, ‘Hospital denies keeping body after family fails to clear bills’.
In Para 6, the scribbler, while purporting to inform readers what a senior official of a medical facility in Arusha, writes the following:
“Dr Madinda revealed that the late Kaaya was admitted AT the hospital on August 6 for TREATMENT and died two days later.”
Hello; we don’t admit someone “at” a hospital, we admit them TO a hospital. And then, like I reminded colleagues sometime ago on this page, when you tell readers someone has been admitted to hospital, you need not proceed with by saying further that it were for the purpose of that person “receiving treatment.” Why, that is obvious!
In Para 8, our scribbling colleague writes further: “She was UNDER oxygen as the 67-year-old continued to receive treatment, according to Vicky.”
Hello; the patient was not under oxygen, she was ON oxygen.
Ah, this treacherous language called English!