SAMPLE 1: “All the tents including seats were decked in splendid clours. The sitting arrangement for the guests was also carefully planned while tents were reserved for families of the groom and the brides at different positions…As the couple danced, many of the guests joined them on the stage to spray them.”(Fanfare as Delta Man Marries Two Women Same Day, the SundayPunch, April 2, 2017)
Let’s note the word spray which occurs in the following context: “As the couple danced, many of the guests joined on the stage to spray them.” The word spray does exist in the English lexicon, but its use in this context reflects how some English words have acquired local “colour” in the Nigerian cultural context. We are told that people went on stage to “spray” dancers. The question is: Spray them with what?
In English, you spray people with liquid or gas. But here nothing is said about what people are sprayed with. I think there is a valid cultural assumption here. The reporter is here counting on the knowledge he shares with Nigerian readers. In Nigeria, during celebrations such as weddings and burials, money is “sprayed” on the people dancing as a mark of honour. It is a purely cultural phenomenon. So, in Nigeria, when we say people are “sprayed”, we mean they are sprayed with money.
Is anything wrong with the reporter’s use of the verb spray? The error has to do with his assumption that only Nigerians would read his report. That’s not a good enough assumption in view of the fact that almost all newspapers appear online these days where the entire world literally has access to them. Presentations that are severely culturally limited are bound to have equally severely limiting effects on readership both in the short and long run. In crafting their reports, therefore, reporters are advised to have both local and international readership in mind.
Next, I draw readers’ attention to the expression “sitting arrangement” which occurs in the following context: “the sitting arrangement for the guests was also carefully planned.” Now the word sitting, modifying the noun arrangement, is an incorrect form. The appropriate form is seating (i.e. seating arrangement, not sitting arrangement).
The various forms that should interest us are: sit, sitting, sat, seat, seated, and seating.
Let’s illustrate their usage in turn: (1) He has been sitting there all day, expecting the news of his parents’ arrival. (2) If he wasn’t sitting down, he was pacing the room anxiously. (3) He was sitting in his usual chair, watching the television. (4) Nobody can sit down until the president has done so. (5) After pacing for a few minutes, he sat down holding his chin ruefully. (6) I have not sat down because you have no asked me to sit down. (7) Janet sat beside her husband. (8) We all sat down as soon as the Chairman left the hall.
In those eight sentences, please note the forms sit (the basic form); sat (the past simple form); has/have sat (the past participle); and sitting (the continuous form). It is especially important to note that the form seating does not feature at all. Why? Because it cannot be used in its continuous form. There is the form seating, yes; but it does not belong to the context of the eight sentences constructed above.
Now read the following sentences: (1) You can now be seated. (2) Seated in one corner of the room was one gentleman who seemed not to be a part of what was going on. (3) In this congregation, women are seated separately from the men. (4) Before seating yourself at the desk, you have to tidy up the room. (5) Husbands and wives are seated close to each other.(6) All guests should be seated before the governor arrives.(7) Guests were seated in groups of four. (8) I don’t like to be seated close to the window.
Next, read the following sentences: (1) All the seats have been occupied by our visitors. (2) It is only the person driving that can sit in the driver’s seat. (3) I usually prefer to sit in the passenger’s seat. (4) Please take a seat. (5) What used to be comfortable seats are now in bad shape. (6) Abuja is the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria. (7) Only five seats remain unoccupied in the plane. (8) You have up till tomorrow to book your seat. (9) Are universities still regarded as seats of learning? (10) Two people can join me in the back seat. (11) The front seats are reserved for the VIPs. (12) The brain is the seat of human reasoning just as the heart is the seat of emotion. (13)The Senator’s seat has been declared vacant by the leadership of the Senate. (14) The court has instructed the chairman to vacate his seat immediately. 15) He is perhaps the most controversial person to have occupied this sensitive seat. 16) The presidential seat is the most exalted in the land.
Finally, read the following sentences: (1) The hall can seat one hundred people. (2) The theatre has a seating capacity of 500. (3) The protocol officer will take care of the seating arrangement. (4) The expansion will increase the seating capacity of the building. (5) Seating plans can be very challenging in situations like this. (6) The seating plan may change if some other big men decide to come.
Now note the following: You do not say: *”My father was *seating close to my mom”. You should say: “My father was sitting close to my mom. Do not say: *”I was *seating in the driver’s seat”. You should say: “I was sitting in the driver’s seat”. Do not say: *”Be *sitted”. You should say: “Be seated”. Do not say: *”I was *sitted close to my uncle”. You should say: “I was seated close to my uncle”.
Do not say: *”What is the sitting capacity of the hall?” You should say: “What is the seating capacity of the hall?” Do not say: *”The protocol officer is in charge of the *sitting arrangement”. You should say: “The protocol officer is in charge of the seating arrangement”.
10 weird English words you won’t believe exist!
HAVE a look at these weird English words and try them out as you speak with people:
Kerfuffle: It means to make a fuss or a bother, usually when people have different points of view.
Hullaballoo: A word that really sounds like what it means, hullaballoo (noun) is the loud noises and shouting that people make when they’re angry. It’s been part of the English language since the middle of the 18th century.
Cacophony: Cacophony comes from a Greek word made up from kacos (bad) and phone (sound). It entered English in the mid 1600’s.
Ragamuffin: Ragamuffin comes from the English that was used during the Middle Ages.
Whippersnapper: The meaning has changed over the years, and today it’s used for a young person who’s too confident and perhaps a little cheeky! It’s a perfect word to use for an inquisitive child who just can’t stop questioning and correcting their parents!
Gobbledygook: Created from the meaningless sound that turkeys make.
Gibberish: It’s not known where the word came from, but many people believe it was taken from either a similar Spanish or Swedish word.
Poppycock: Poppycock actually came from the Dutch word pappekak, which is made from pap (soft) and kak (poop!). It’s been part of English since the 1800’s.
Discombobulate: Discombobulate means to confuse! It’s been used since the mid 19th century, and is mainly used in a funny way.
Flummox: To flummox a person (verb) means to confuse them a lot. It came into the English language in the middle of the 19th century. It was taken from dialects used in some parts of the UK.