Heaps of Rubbish!

We begin today by presenting a letter from one of our readers. He writes: Your contribution(s) to the development of understanding the rudiments of the English language cannot be overemphasized.

Kindly look at page 22 of the Sunday Tribune of 10th January, 2016 titled “TAMPAN Reads the Riot Act to Fake Members”, column 3 line 3: “…film shoot will take place in other to avoid any harassment or intimidation from any quarter or group of people.”

How would it be if “order” replaces “other” in the phrase?

—Ojo-Idowu Olakunle


I thank Mr Ojo-Idowu Olakunle for his kind words. The efforts here, whatever their value, would amount to nothing without avid and regular readers like you. The feedback we get, the knowledge that people are following and appreciating our little contribution to the education of Nigerians, the frequent text messages serve to enliven and bolster our enthusiasm.

Mr Olakunle wants to be sure whether the word order is not the better option in context of the report: ““…film shoot will take place in other to avoid any harassment or intimidation from any quarter or group of people.” Should we say in order to or in other to? The former (in order to) is the appropriate idiomatic option.

Some Nigerian users of English find it difficult to differentiate in pronunciation between the words order and other, thus carrying the phonological confusion into the idiomatic and syntactic usage.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The Treasury Single Account (TSA) was introduced in order to prevent public officers from exceeding their spending limits. 2) Nigerian languages and cultures are being taught in public schools in order to wean our citizens from unhealthy attachment to foreign languages and culture. 3) Regular parents-teachers meetings are held in order to foster a sustained dialogue between parents and teachers. 4) Politicians hold their meetings at night in order to prevent other people from having access to their information. 5) The pregnant woman was immediately subjected to surgery in order to prevent her from laboring too much. 6) The coach subjected his team to regular rigorous training in order to guarantee a brilliant international outing. 7) A lot of stones and cement were used in order to give the building a strong foundation. 8) He told so many lies in order to present himself as a man of integrity. 9) Many advertisements were placed in newspapers in order to generate goodwill for the organization. 10) Many more hands were employed in order to cope with the volume of production this season requires.

The word order can be used in a variety of other ways that should help highlight the difference between it and the word other. Now read the following sentences: 1) It is the constitutional duty of the police to maintain law and order. 2) People will be attended to in the order in which they arrived. 3) The order of service is contained in the pamphlets distributed to the worshippers. 4) No particular order is followed in the way doctors attended to their patients. 5) The chief executive has given an order which cannot be countermanded. 6) The restriction order in that part of the country has been lifted. 7) Since his assumption of office, the president has been trying to put things in order. 8) The machine is out of order and it will require a huge sum of money to fix it. 9) It may interest you to note that I don’t take orders from just anybody. 10) The company has placed an order for a new generator. 11) The army General ordered his men to leave the city. 12) Students were ordered to stay away from the venue of the meeting.

Next we illustrate the usage of the word other. The word can be used in a number of different senses. Read the following sentences: 1)Apart from excessive cash in circulation, there are other factors responsible for inflation. 2) Apart from Christianity and Islam, there are other important religions in the world. 3) The first gentleman seems to be more responsible than the other two. 4) His father had other children by another wife. 5) There are many other things we need to discuss. 6) The other day he was saying something I didn’t quite understand. 7) I see no reason why the two friends should be quarrelling with each other. 8) There are many other books on the same subject. 9) There are situations other than this in which we can encounter similar challenges. 10) We live on the other side of the street. 11) The other false assumption is that life will go on forever. 12) My uncle’sother properties are in Abuja. 13) Some men discriminate against women. In other words, they feel they are superior to women. 14) Soldiers need to understand that this is a democracy and not military dictatorship. In other words, they should learn to submit themselves to civil authority. 15) Parents have a vital role to play in the moral upbringing of their children. In other words, parents should never leave the spiritual and moral destiny of their children entirely in the hands of teachers.

At any rate, the expression in order to should replace in other to in the context under consideration.

Sample 1: “Suddenly from Ajegunle to Apapa, Ketu to Ojota, Mushin to Safejo and even along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, piles of rubbish are returning in heaps…Aside appealing to the managers to do everything within their power to clean up wastes in the city and ensure a cleaner Lagos capable of attracting more investors and boosting the state’s economy, he equally urged citizens to shun the habit of disposing wastes on highways and other restricted areas…One Festac resident who simply identified herself as Alhaja told our correspondent that she has resorted to patronizing truck-pushers in disposing her wastes because of the many disappointments in the hands of PSP operators…This she said is in spite of the fact that the government has been trying really hard to discourage patronage of the truck-pushers because of the manner they dispose the wastes which it considers malicious to the sanctity of the environment…He said they collect wastes once in two weeks which is too far between…Resultantly, he said wastes piled up and they are forced to patronize truck-pushers…He therefore prefers to patronize an elderly truck-pusher in the area who he believes dumps the wastes at a longstanding dumpsite in the area…Alhaja Adeola told The Nation that LAWMA has become more responsive in the collection of their wastes along the express. What’s worse is that these wastes are never well-packed…He wondered if Lagosians do not realize that the people responsible for collecting the wastes are human beings like them…One roadside trader who said she does not live in the area but comes there to do business on a daily basis said the wastes are often cleared up every morning…She said she was sure that the residents in the area usually come and dump those refuse there behind their backs…there is a toll-free line which has been made available to operators and the general public which they can call so that alternative arrangements can be made to clear the wastes…She stressed that there are opportunities of wealth creation from the wastes we generate at home and in industries…” (Grimaces, as Heaps of Refuse Return to Lagos, The Nation on Sun Sunday, January 10, 2016)

The rather bewilderingly long excerpt is intended to statistically highlight the usage of a word whose identity and presentation will be deferred till next week.

Meanwhile, there is a feature of pleonasm not dissimilar to the examples considered last week. Consider the following clause: “piles of rubbish are returning in heaps.” What is the meaning of piles? What is the meaning of heaps? What is the difference between the two? From their dictionary definitions, the two are closely related semantically, near synonyms. The point is that the two words should not occur together in a sentence as they do here.

We could say: “rubbish is returning to the streets in piles/heaps” or: “heaps/piles of rubbish are returning to the streets.”

Other issues will be addressed next week by God’s grace.