More harvests of errors! (II)

TODAY, we present for further analysis the same except that provided the material for the discussion last week. It is retained as sample 1.

Sample 1: “An average northerner and other Nigerians resident in the North has had one unpleasant encounter or the other with the Zakzaky group…During their numerous processions, the group which allegedly has its own security forces subjected other road users to security checks, in some cases force motorists to one lane of a dual carriage way or even block the road in many cases…Some of the steps they have taken includes founding a fake Shiite organization to counter the growth and strength of IMN…The attack, killing and subsequent arrest of members of the IMN in Zaria last December was part of the plan which they are still pursuing…In the area of funding however, the Shiite group have practically resulted to taxing members to run their programmes…”(Zaria and the Shiites without El-Zakzaky, The Nation, Sunday, July 10, 2016)

Let’s pay attention to the tense of the verbs in the following structure: “During their numerous processions, the group which allegedly has its own security forces subjected other road users to security checks, in some cases force motorists to one lane of a dual carriage way or even block the road in many cases.” The three verbs under consideration are: subjected, force, and block. The first one, subjected, is obviously in its past form, what with its final –ed morpheme. This is in conformity with the reportorial style associated with conventional journalism. Reported sentences contain verbs in their past forms. This is because the actions being conveyed by the verbs are already in the past.

That being obviously the case, why are the other verbs—force and block—in their present forms? Here lies the problem with this aspect of the write-up: a case of incongruence between the form of one verb and the other(s), a grammatical fault usually technically described as lack of sequence of tense. The ideational and grammatical condition that led to the choice of the past form in the case of subjected should automatically apply to force and block as well. At any rate, the verbs should be changed to their past forms: forced and blocked.

Next, I draw readers’ attention to the verb-form, was, which occurs in the following structure: “The attack, killing and subsequent arrest of members of the IMN in Zaria last December was part of the plan which they are still pursuing.”It is important for us to acknowledge that the sentence under scrutiny does not belong to the reporter. The question of the integrity of its grammar arises because it occurs within the report under review, and since it is now in the public domain any grammatical lapse(s) must be addressed.

Now back to the structure, it should be obvious that the verb (was) is in its singular form.Next, we need to find out the grammatical conditions in the structure which led the reporter to choose a singular verb-form. In other words, we need to identify the subject of the verb and compare its form with that of the verb.

Here is the subject of the verb deducible from the structural logic and grammatical reality: “the attack, killing and subsequent arrest of members…”I can count three items that form that subject. It is a strange logic of grammar and mathematics that three items have been treated as a singular item. At any rate, the singular verb-form (was) should be changed to its plural form: were.

Next, we note the verb includes which occurs in the following structure: “some of the steps they have taken includes founding a fake…” Please note the final –s in the verb includes which suggests that its subject is its third person singular number. The writer has consistently mixed up this aspect of grammar. The subject of this verb is: “some of the steps.” Does that look like a singular subject? Please delete the final –s in the verb includes. For more information on this aspect of grammar, the reader is advised to see our discussion last week.

Finally, we note the expression resulted to which occurs in the following context: “the Shiite group have practically resulted to taxing members to run their programmes.” The reporter, like many Nigerian writers, has confused this expression with resorted to. In addition, let’s note the particle to which collocates with the verb result in this context. It is not the appropriate particle; not only that, that particle is symptomatic of the perennial confusion witnessed in the Nigerian usage scene between the expressions result in/from and resort to.

Now what is the nature of the error? We are looking at the difference between result and resort, which many Nigerians, including the reporter whose work is under review, would be unable to note at the level of pronunciation. There is a major phonetic difference between these words, and the first step towards overcoming the tendency to confuse them is to learn to pronounce them accurately.

How do we use the verb result? Please read the following sentences: 1) The near total failure of the project resulted from poor planning. 2) The violence resulted from the government’s refusal to listen to members of the public. 3) The governor’s loss of the election resulted from his political insensitivity. 4) The outbreak of cholera resulted from the people’s unhygienic living habit. 5) The war obviously resulted from lack of political, religious and racial tolerance. 6) Lack of adequate preparation resulted in mass failure. 7) Distorted understanding of the situation resulted in a wrong assessment of the people. 8) It is doubtful if this rather prolonged drought would not result in famine. 9) Careless driving often results in avoidable accidents. 10) Years of oppression and suppression of the masses can result in a violent revolution.

I advise readers to please note the particles that go with the verb result: in and from. An event or action may result in or from another event or action. Some Nigerian users would replace either of these particles with the particle to or into. They would say, for example, “The violent clash resulted to the death of the union leader” or “The heavy rain resulted into massive flooding.” The appropriate particle in each of those sentences is in.

And resort? When people resort to something, they use it or apply it or turn to it because they understand that that is the only thing that will work in their situation. Please read the following sentences: 1) Under no circumstances should you resort to borrowing. 2) Students have often resorted to violence whenever there is a misunderstanding between them and the authorities. 3) Frustrated, and alienated from his wife, the man has resorted to heavy drinking. 4) Constantly under attacks by armed robbers, residents have resorted to self-policing. 5) Many years ago, some banks resorted to chasing their debtors all over the place. 6) Is it right for jobless and hungry young men to resort to stealing? 7) He resorted to marrying another wife because his first wife allegedly gave him no peace. 8) When all else failed, he resorted to drug trafficking. 9) Having become grossly unpopular and incompetent, the government resorted to gagging the press. 10) In the face of pain, poverty, and  frustration, the lady resorted to prostitution.

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