WE didn’t finish analyzing the second excerpt that occupied our critical attention last week. For ease of reference, let’s label that excerpt ‘Sample 1’.
Sample 1:“Talks about how university teachers use their overbearing advantage over their students to intimidate and seduce female students is widespread…The proposed legislation, whose sponsors span across all geo-political zones of the country, also stipulates as offences solicitation of sex or sexual advances by lecturers which result to intimidation, hostile or offensive environment for students…”(Senate Takes on Randy Lecturers, TheNation, Sunday 8 May, 2016)
After considering an issue of concord, we went on last week to discuss the expression span across, noting that the preposition across is a lexical encumbrance. Having illustrated the usage of the verb span in sentences, we felt under obligation to advise the reporter who penned the report as well as our beloved readers not to allow the prepositionacross to collocate with that verb. In fact, the verb span, we noted, does not take any particle at all.
We had also observed that the reporter had possibly confused the usage of span with that of spread or cut. Actually, both spread and cut take prepositions. The following sentences illustrate the usage of the word spread: 1) Before he knew what was happening, the bad news had spread across the entire nation. 2) The management has allowed the payment to be spread over two years. 3) We should not allow the fire to spread to the cocoa plantation. 4) In view of the heat, the butter spread quickly over the slice of yam. 5) His political influence spread overa wide geographical area. 6) By that time, Christianity had spread through the cities to the remotest part of the country. 7) The pain has spread from the back to the neck and the head. 8) The crime of kidnapping which started from the South East has spread to the northern part of the country. 9) Our listeners spread across the nation. 10) The disease is spread through infected blood.
The important point to note is that the word spread can take a number of particles/prepositions.
Now we turn to the word cut: 1) The reduction in salaries cuts across all salary scales. 2) Those who voted for the president cut across all parties. 3) The problem cuts across all strata of society. 4) The disease cuts across all age groups. 5) President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption cuts across party lines. 6) The president’s political influence should cut across party lines. 7) The issue of immorality cuts across religious boundaries. 8) It is sad that exam malpractices cut across all levels of education. 9) The retrenchment cuts across all departments. 10) Racial discrimination cuts across all segments of the society.
Next, we note the expression, result to which occurs in the following context: “sexual advances by lecturers which result to intimidation.” Furthermore, we 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 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.
Sample 2: “The president, in his remark, said over six decades, oil exploration in the region had caused the rural communities their sources of livelihood in the face of acute degradation of their land and water among other damaged biodiversity in the region…It smirks of attempts to gain recognition and position individuals for possible negotiations with the FG…The preferential treatment got by Tompolo, Atake, Boyloaf, Asari and other ‘Generals’ at the detriment of ‘Commanders’ and foot soldiers have been a cause of friction…They are hiding under a platform of underdevelopment to perpetuate these evils…He said there are 45 communities around the Benin River without portable drinking water…Gory tales of inhuman treatment and human rights abuses allegedly carried out by the military from the creeks is further alienating the Federal Government and the military in the region…”(Ogoni Clean up, the Struggle and the UNEP Report, The Nation, Sunday June 5, 2016)
This text is plagued by numerous grammatical and stylistic errors which provide the prospect of engaging our attention beyond this week.
I urge readers to pay attention to the verb-form (is) which occurs in the following context: “Gory tales of inhuman treatment and human rights abuses allegedly carried out by the military from the creeks is further alienating the Federal Government and the military in the region.” The reporter’s choice of the singular verb-form is rather surprising in view of the very obvious plural nature of the noun relevant to the verb slot. The headword is tales modified of course by the adjective gory. The logic of the structure does suggest that the verb should be in its plural form: are. Please take another look at the structure and tell us whether you can fault our decision to replace the singular form of the verb with its plural counterpart. It would appear that the reporter has taken a wrong decision with respect to concord because of the distance between the relevant noun and the verb slot, a distance that is liable to confuse writers who are not grammatically sure-footed.
As we noted earlier,there are many issues requiring our intervention in this excerpt which space limitation will not allow us to address today. Those will occupy our attention before anything else next week by God’s grace.