Move to ‘encounter’ food shortage and ‘achieve’ Tanzania cooking oil deficit!

Before me is the September 3 edition of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist, whose Page 4 has a story entitled, ‘This is how Tanzania can meet edible oil challenges’.

In Leg 3 of his long article, the scribbler says: “President Hassan’s directive comes at a time when the ministry of Agriculture has launched a strategy for large scale FARMING especially for short-term crops so as to attract young people “into” FARMING.”

The first concern here (which some speakers might dismiss as mundane), is the use of the word “farming” twice in the relatively short sentence.

Being repetitive gives your audience the idea you lack in vocabulary competence!

The second concern is about a misused preposition. Yes, you don’t attract people “into” something; you attract them TO something.

The sentence could therefore be rewritten to read “…the ministry of Agriculture has launched a strategy for large-scale FARMING…so as to attract young people TO (not into) AGRICULTURE.”

In Leg 3 there’s another sentence that reads: “For his part, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute director general…says in order to ENCOUNTER the shortage of cooking oil in the country, more efforts should be directed to the cultivation of palm trees and sunflowers.”

When there’s a shortage, you don’t take measures to encounter it; rather, you take measures to COUNTER it. Why, the verb “counter” means to take action aimed at reducing or preventing the bad effect of something.

“Counter-attack” is a common expression among football commentators, including those who don’t even speak English, referring to the action of players whose goal area was endangered to turn the tables and carry the offensive to their opponents’ side.

On the other hand, “encounter” means to unexpectedly be faced with something difficult, hostile or dangerous, like when you come face to face with a rogue elephant. This word also means to meet someone unexpectedly, like when you bump into a long-lost primary schoolmate after 30 years.

In Para 2 of Leg 5, the scribbler reports a senior official as saying that “large-scale farming was a solution if these industries were to be guaranteed WITH adequate raw material.”

Hello, no! You don’t guarantee industries or whatever “with” something; you guarantee them something.

Towards the end, our colleague writes: “A resident of Kiwira in Mbeya (said) with proper education to farmers, Tanzania was likely to ACHIEVE THE DEFICIT in edible oil production…”

Achieve deficit? What an absurd thing to say! You surely don’t achieve bad things. Now deficit is a bad thing, for it means, among other negatives: shortage, shortfall, scarcity, insufficiency…

I’m certain our colleague set out to report the Mbeya resident as saying that with proper education to farmers, “Tanzania was likely to REDUCE (not achieve) the deficit in edible oil production…” OR…Achieve SELF-SUFFICIENCY (not deficit) in oil needs.

Come Saturday, September 10, and Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet ran a Page 3 story entitled, ‘Stop using illicit drugs, GCLA cautions drivers…” In this one, the scribbler said the following in his intro:

“The Government Chemist Laboratory Authority (GCLA) has warned drivers…to stop using illicit drugs to avoid UNNECESSARY accidents…”

Unnecessary accidents? Good Lord! Do we have cases in which certain accidents are necessary? That’s a vile thing to suggest, isn’t it? That our colleague uses the expression twice means he’s confident he knows what he’s talking about.

Sadly, we often hear this nonsensical expression uttered in Kiswahili too—ajali ZISIZO ZA LAZIMA. We can firmly state that what such persons mean to say is, “AVOIDABLE accidents” and in Kiswahili, “ajali zinazoepukika.”

The scribbler writes on in Para 2: “Opening a two DAYS training, the Director of Product and Environment at GCLA…said drugs can impair the ability to drive…”

A two days training? No, we say two-DAY training. The same way we say a four-week holiday (and not a four weeks holiday).

Ah, this treacherous language called English!