OUR KIND OF ENGLISH: Bugs sprayed ‘by’ insecticide; 2 new ‘aircrafts’

Sunday January 20 2019

Deal WITH? Nope! Well, you can deal with a problem or a situation, but when it comes to doing business, you deal IN that business. It means the artist was assigned to paint: we deal IN (not with) fitting pipes…Trust signwriters! PHOTO|AMS

On Page 1 of Bongo’s senior-most broadsheet of Sat, Jan 12, there’s this story entitled, ‘Good times ahead, JPM promises’, and the scribbler writes in his intro:

“President John Magufuli yesterday…announced that the manufacturer of the recently acquired two Airbus 220 planes…refunded 1.3 million US dollars to the government for late delivery of the AIRCRAFTS.”

Two aircrafts? Nope, we say “two AIRCRAFT”, why, according to our trusted Oxford dictionary, the plural for aircraft is aircraft.

On Page 3 of the same edition, we’ve a story, ‘Bedbugs cause nuisance to villagers and students’, and in Para 2, our colleague writes: “Strangely enough they are said to have been surviving after being sprayed BY insecticide.”

Sprayed by insecticide? That cannot be, for we’re certain the spraying was done by humans, who applied ineffective fumigant on the stubborn pests. In which case, the scribbler ought to have written: …after being sprayed WITH (not “by”) insecticide.

In another story on Page 3, headlined, ‘Over 60 workers file complaints against ELCT’, the scribbler, purporting to quote Advocate SR, writes:


“It is true the workers FILLED the complaints. AMONG the complaints INCLUDE demand for their four-month salaries and arrears…”

You don’t FILL a complaint, you FILE it. And then, “among” and “include” cannot used in a sentence as if they mean two different things, for when you’re among certain things, it means you’re included those things. Here’s our rewrite:

“AMONG the complaints is the demand for four-month salaries and arrears…” OR “Their complaints INCLUDED the demand for their four-month salaries and arrears…”

On the Sat, Jan 12 edition of the tabloid closely associated with this columnist, there’s this story, ‘Tamwa boss makes a vow’, in which the scribbler says in Para 2: “The executive director, Ms Rose Reuben, said awareness rate of gender based violence was falling…”

The scribbler, in her concluding para, gives bio info on the Tamwa boss, saying:

“Ms Rose is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Dar…”

Ms Rose? Nope? Why, in the English language etiquette (which we also subscribe to in formal Kiswahili), you don’t prefix the first name with Ms (pronounced /mi-z/), Miss, Mr or Mrs! These prefixes go with either the surname name alone or the person’s full name. For instance, you’d be violating etiquette if you bumped into this columnist on the street and said, “Hello Mr Abdi, it has been long!” You need to say, either “Hello Mr Abdi Sultani…” OR “Hello, Mr Sultani…” Or, drop the Mr and simply say “Hello, Abdi..!”

It means, the new Tamwa boss, Ms Rose Reuben, should be, in subsequent sentences, be referred to Ms Reuben, not Ms Rose!

The tabloid version of Bongo’s huge and colourful broadsheet of Sun, Jan 13, had this Page 1-2 story, ‘Bill on political parties mauled’. Says the scribbler in Page 2, “Richard Kinawala, a legal practitioner said there WAS NEED to look at all possible ways…”

Let’s remind each other again, we say there is (was) A NEED—the indefinite article “a” is mandatory!

Ah, this treacherous language called English!

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