Devising devices

SAMPLE 1: “We urge the South African government to ensure that the attacks do not reoccur. We appeal to them to device alternative strategies since previous efforts to stop xenophobia have not worked.”(Nigerians Resident in South Africa Pin Hope on Buhari’s Visit, Sunday Vanguard, 8 September, 2019)

The word under focus is device which occurs in the following context: “to device alternative strategies.” It should be obvious to knowledgeable readers that the slot occupied by the word device belongs to a verb. In other words, the writer intends the word device to function as a verb in the present context. However, that form is not a verb. It is a noun. The verb form is: devise.

Let’s illustrate the respective usage in sentences. Please read the following sentences: 1) New and exotic electronic devices are emerging every day. 2) Figures of speech are literary devices designed to enliven and strengthen literary texts. 3) Politicians use all sorts of corrupt devices to win elections. 4) Such fraudulent devices cannot have any effect on intelligent people. 5) Authentic miracles are no devices meant to hoodwink people; they are interventions in human lives by the creator of heaven and earth. 6) Satanic schemes and devices are to be destroyed with the word and prayer.

Those sentences illustrate the usage of device—a noun.

Now read the following sentences: 1) We have to devise a way of accommodating those who could not come for the first interview. 2) The politician is always devising new strategies for defeating his political opponents. 3) Stand-up comedians are devising creative ways of entertaining their audience. 4) When I became terribly stubborn, my mother had to devise a novel way of punishing me. 5) Smugglers have devised clever ways of beating customs officers. 6) Advertisers are never tired of devising linguistic strategies for capturing prospective patrons.

Those sentences illustrate the usage of the verb-form: devise.

There are a few other words whose noun/verb differences many users find confusing. Consider, for example, the difference between belief and believe. The noun form is belief and the verb form is believe. Let’s illustrate the usage of the noun form. Please read the following sentences: (1) Our belief in the existence of the almighty God is reinforced by what we observe in the natural phenomena. (2) I have this belief that talent must be support with hard work if it is to be appreciated by people. (3) Religious beliefs do not necessarily conflict with scientific principles. (4) The insensitivity and cruelty of our leaders are beyond belief. (5) Despite the belief to the contrary, no race is superior to the other. (6) Some people go to the university in the mistaken belief that higher education automatically confers greatness. (7) My belief in the power of the press is unaffected by the messy roles played by some newspapers in the weakening of our democracy. (8) I fail to understand how a man who professes such a strong belief in democracy should identify with those who are undermining it. (9) Many times, popular beliefs are founded on fiction rather than reality. (10) Many rural dwellers have no genuine belief in the modern financial system.

Now the verb: (1) Those who believe in the existence of God are no less intelligent than those who don’t. (2) Although the marriage seems to be happy now, I believe the woman has made a wrong choice. (3) When you tell and listen to lies a lot, you soon begin to believe lies. (4) If you believe and practise the word of God, your life will be the better for it. (5) There is nothing in his words or conduct that would make anybody believe the boy. (6) It is difficult to believe that a business that started barely five years ago would have branches all over Africa and Europe. (7) The contemporary young men don’t believe that marriage is anything to be taken seriously. (8) Members of the white race believe that they are intellectually superior to Africans. (9) If you believe that tall story, then you can believe anything. (10) Even if you believe that doctrine, please don’t teach it to your church members.

The usage difference between believe and belief is similar to that between relieve and relief. We now examine and illustrate the usage differences between relief (noun) and relieve (verb). First relief: (1) For hours we had lived in mortal fear, but relief came our way when the soldiers appeared with their guns at the ready. (2) Money can bring relief and comfort, especially after a long period of poverty, but peace comes only from the knowledge of God. (3) Having exhausted all our food items, we least expected relief when it came: abundant supply of raw food brought by my mother. (4) We breathed a sigh of relief when we heard that our company had won the contract. (5) There couldn’t have been a bigger relief than the arrival of a baby a few days after the bereavement. (6) It is unfortunate that up till now the victims of the flood disaster have not received the relief promised by the government agency. (7) The newly manufactured drugs are known to be effective for pain relief. (8) Several hours after taking the drugs, he did not experience any relief. (9) A short period of relief was followed by a bout of sharp, unmitigated pain. (10) The main aim of modern medicine, some have argued, is to provide relief from pain.

Now the verb-form, relieve: (1) The sudden appearance of the boy who had disappeared for close to a month relieved my anxiety. (2) There are herbal products that relieve pain faster than modern drugs. (3) One of the important benefits of sporting activities is that they help to relieve tension and boredom. (4) The payment has relieved me of a heavy financial burden. (5) The overhead bridges were designed to relieve traffic congestion in the Lagos metropolis. (6) The offer is intended to relieve the poor and the needy. (7) I was relieved to learn that some of the members of our club who were being detained by the police had been released. (8) Apart from giving us the energy required for daily living, food helps to relieve the pain caused by hunger. (9) Instead of relieving my emotional pain, what you have said has increased my trauma. (10) These days, young men see marriage as a burden of which they will be glad to be relieved.

Again, the difference between the forms safe and save is similar to that between belief and believe and between relief and relieve. The verb form is save, and the readers would notice immediately that the only difference in terms of spelling between the adjective (safe) and the verb (save) is represented by the difference between the letters f and v. The difference, minor as it might seem from the orthographic point of view, should command all seriousness at the level of grammar. It helps to always remember that significant syntactic and semantic differences may be signalled by seemingly trivial orthographic variations. This observation is applicable to all the pairs of words considered today.

As we have noted, the adjective form is safe and the verb form is save, and the usage of each is illustrated as follows, beginning with safe: (1) It is better to keep a safe distance from that beast, for it can charge suddenly. (2) The WHO has been emphasizing safe sex as a way of keeping the population down. (3) It is not safe to stay in the villages adjoining the cantonment while the shootings are going on. (4) The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has emphasized the need for its members to work in safe environments. (5) Before anything else, let us thank God for the safe arrival of the members of our family. (6) The leader of the team has warned that it is not safe to roam the street at night. (7) It is not safe to swim when the tide is high. (8) Alone in darkness and in a house as big as this, I don’t feel safe at all. (9) Is it safe to drive through that road at this time of the day? (10) Is my box safe by the road side?

Next, we illustrate the usage of the verb save: (1) Who can save the country from a party whose leaders do not believe in the welfare of the people? (2) The civil society groups have vowed to save our young democracy. (3) If the money had been made available much earlier, I would have been saved the embarrassment that I experienced three days ago. (4) I try to save some money, however small, every month. (5) The timely intervention of France and NATO saved thousands of lives in Ivory Coast. (6) With the identification and withdrawal of the killer drugs from circulation, millions of lives have been saved. (7) Measures are being taken by experts to save our forests from further damage. (8) I will take you in my car to save you the trouble of trekking ten miles. (9) In the next six months, I should have saved enough money to buy a new car. (10) I want to save my energy for the more demanding task.

 

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