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Resorting to troops and troupes

SAMPLE 1: “It was the first Durbar presentation in the South South region. The durbar troops were from Niger, Sokoto and Kano States. A large crowd gathered to see the presentation even as chiefs and commoners pose to take photographs.”(Sultan of Sokoto Honours Benin Monarch, The Nation, Sunday, October 23, 2016)

The word of interest is troops which occurs in the following context: “The durbar troops were from Niger, Sokoto and Kano States.” The word troops is about soldiers especially when they are deployed for a military action. I search the context in vain for anything remotely connected to movement and mobilization of soldiers for action. In the immediately preceding sentence, I find the phrase “durbar presentation”; in the one immediately succeeding it, my search yields the words presentation and photograph. The phrase and the two words suggest drama, entertainment and leisure.

This is my conclusion. The word troops has been selected in error, being a victim of mistaken identity. We feel under obligation, therefore, re-present an earlier discussion of the distinction between troupe and troops—for these are the words that are confused by the reporter.

It is interesting that the two words, troop and troupe, have identical pronunciation. But apart from being spelt differently, they are as far apart semantically as any two words can be.

Now, the noun troupe is used to denote a group of actors, dancers or singers who perform together, moving from one place to the other. Please read the following sentences: 1)Led by a veteran musician, dynamic and entertaining, the troupe treated us to a thrilling performance that I had never seen in the last two decades. 2)In spite of its great performaces, the troupe always faces the problem of insufficient funding. 3)As the leader of our school’s cultural troupe, it was my duty to ensure that every performance was successfully carried out. 4)As a Youth Corps member, I organized a cultural troupe for the school where I carried out my primary assignment, a troupe, I’m told, is still active till today. 5)The dancing troupe is made up of ladies only as dancers and men as drummers. 6)The NTA troupe performs only during festive seasons. 7) A cultural troupe, formed, funded, and encouraged by the palace, is being arranged to entertain the guests. 8) The national troupe is very versatile, capable of entertaining guests with a medley of performances reflecting the diversity of the Nigerian cultures. 9) As a burgeoning group, the first performance of the troupe was at the National Theatre. 10) After about five performances, the troupe lost focus, became weak and died.

As we have noted, the verb form of the word troupe is very rare except in its very technical or professional sense. Here are examples of its usage in the verb form: 1)Hubert Ogunde was said to have trouped his plays to such distant places as the northern Nigeria. 2)The pioneer travelling actors like Oyin Adejobi trouped their performances all over the country, not because of the money they made from the performances, but because of the fulfilment they gave them. 3)To troupe plays requires considerable effort and dedication.

The word troop basically denotes a group of soldiers. It can be used in its singular or plural form. Let’s read the following sentences: 1)The Federal Government has deployed troops in the troubled states of the North East of Nigeria. 2)Now that peace is returning to the war-torn country, the foreign troops are being withdrawn. 3)The troops are on their way to Somalia on a peace-keeping mission. 4)Brigadier Taiye Ojopagogo is leading a troop to the zone to assist in quelling the civil unrest that is beyond the capacity of the police. 5)Member nations of the African Union have agreed to contribute troops towards restoring peace to a region that has been ravaged by war. 6)During the civil war, the Federal troops were said to have committed all sorts of atrocities, including rapes. 7) The troops were weakened by the activities of moles and deserters. 8) In disarray, the troops retreated and requested for reinforcement.

We have used the word troop as a noun in each of those sentences, and the sense has been that of soldiers in or ready for action.

But the noun can also refer to a group of people, non-soldiers moving to a place. Now read the following sentences: 1)We met a troop of young boys poaching animals and having fun.  2)There they  were, a troop of angry, tired and frustrated retirees, seeking sympathy and justice. 3)We were distracted by the chatter of a troop of schoolchildren on their way to the football field. 4)It all happened in the middle of the dry season when troops of women went to distant places in search of water. 5)The advertisement displayed in front of the building attracted a troop of job seekers, anxious and desperate, shouting themselves hoarse. 6)We saw a troop  of tenants marching to the police station to report the misconduct of their landlord. 7) A troop of militant students blocked the road, protesting the lack of electricity.

Each of the seven sentences demonstrates the usage of the noun troop in its figurative sense. But the figurative sense can also be used in the verb form. Let’s consider the following sentences: 1)The villagers trooped out to see the white men who were visiting the palace. 2)Almost the entire town trooped out to welcome the president. 3)After the football match, spectators trooped into streets, leading to a terrible traffic jam. 4)The masses have been advised totroop out on the day of the election and vote for the candidate of their choice. 5) I expect the box office takings to be in hundreds of thousands in view of the rate at which spectators trooped into the cinema. 6)In those days when public execution of armed robbers was common, members of the public could be seen trooping out to watch the gory sights. 7)Following the series of armed robbery attacks, members trooped into the meeting called to discuss security issues. 8)It was the closing time and students trooped out of the school compound.

In the light of the discussion and examples so far, the form troupes should be changed to troops in the context under review: “The durbar troupes were from Niger, Sokoto and Kano States.”

Sample 2: “He advised Christian youths to remain calm and stay away from any form of protest as it could lead to religious violence and result to the shedding of more innocent blood.”(YOWICAN Demand Justice Over Female Preacher’s Killing, The Nation, Sunday, July17, 2016)

Let’s note the expressionresult to which occurs in the clause: “it could lead to religious violence and result to the shedding of more innocent blood.” 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 resultedfrom 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.

It should be clear that the appropriate expression is: result in.