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Pop Errors In English: A guide to good communication

By Bayo Ogunmupe   |   06 August 2017   |   4:17 am


Pop Errors In English, Writers Beware is Segun Omolayo’s contribution to Nigerian education and enlightenment in this knowledge driven age. Omolayo, a United Nations (UN) trained draft-man and analyst, wrote the book, while serving as a UN diplomat. Pop errors in English unpacks, articulates and examines popular errors writers commit in various ways. The book discusses rules often violated by writers and suggests ways to avoid them. It explains why what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. The author emphasizes how to enhance writers’ use of English language for effective communication. The author imparts the skills and techniques that separate the tutored from the untrained instinctive writers.
     
This book is for journalists, legal and legislative draftsmen, editors of journals and newspapers as well as diplomats. Pop Errors in English is paperback. Published in 2017, the 558-page book is divided into 12 chapters, apart from the three-page references. In his capacity as a reporter and draftsman for the UN, Omolayo has edited, re-written and analysed diverse texts from various fields. It is through such rich exposure that he is able to identify errors in books.
   
Omolayo explains applicable principles and rules, suggesting improvements with copious examples. The book aims to share with its readers writing skills, tools and principles of communication. It demonstrates that little things matter just as we unconsciously destroy our mother tongues and good English through government promotion of Pidgin English, which belongs to no ethnic group.   

The following examples are being paraphrased for brevity and judicious use of space in order to cite as many examples as possible. On redundancy, the author explains it as a phrase, clause, sentence or text in any word or group of words considered unnecessary, in the sense that it can be removed without detracting the meaning. This means, such word or phrase has no function in the sentence; it neither adds value nor meaning. Sources of redundancies are rampart. They include: tautology, which refers to the repetition of words.
   
Verbosity, he says happens when a speaker/writer uses too many words where a few could convey the same meaning. Next comes circumlocution, meaning that one is simply beating about the bush. According to the author, grammarians consider circumlocutions dangerous because such words ‘shut down readers.’ Here are examples of circumlocutions: ‘I agree with the idea,’(instead of I agree.); ‘during the time that,’ (instead of when); ‘in view of the fact that,’(instead of because); ‘within the framework of,’ (in); ‘within the context of,’ (regarding); ‘for the purpose of,’ (to); ‘in order to’ (to); ‘in the event that,’ ( if); ‘in the field of,’ (in); ‘in the year 2012’ ( in 2012); ‘until such time,’ (until); ‘ and prior to’ (before).
   
Though sources of redundancies are legion, readers are shown how they arise, how they affect conversations and how they can be prevented; using examples drawn from different writings.

Here we go: A two day workshop organised by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Peace Building Office on Conflict sensitivity with the theme, ‘Strengthening Government Capacity in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development,’ began in Katata on February 12. Since the purpose of this phrase is ‘on conflict sensitivity’; it is to distinctly identify the workshop that has been adequately done by the theme.  Thus, the phrase is a repetition, which should be removed.
   
So the message above sounds better as: A two-day workshop organised by the Ministry of Justice and the Peace Building Office with the theme: ‘Strengthening Government Capacity in Conflict Sensitivity Programming and Development’ began in Kakata on February 12.
   
Malapropism is another writer’s headache. It is the misuse of certain words. This is an amusing mistake speakers/writers make when they use a word, which sounds similar, but with different meanings to the word they wanted to use. Webster’s Dictionary calls it a ludicrous misuse of words. A writer desirous of conveying precise meaning will do his best to avoid malapropisms. 
   
Great speaker/writers appreciate correct choice of words or ideas by noting that the synonyms of the same word will not always convey the same meaning.

This means a speaker/writer must spare no effort to perfect his diction. Here is an example of malapropism: Consummation of honey by humans has rules and regulations. Consummation means completion of something, which is why it is not appropriate. Actually, consummation goes with the action of making a marriage complete by having coitus.
     
Consumption, which is the appropriate word means, the action of eating or drinking something. This is a very good book for speechwriters, press secretaries and anyone that regularly addresses the public. Observing the corrections while writing or speaking would help cut down tautology, thereby, fostering good and effective communication.

Omolayo, a former Nigerian diplomat, has written, reviewed and edited scripts for decades. He is also a registered advertiser and broadcaster.




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