Particles and Idiomatic Usage (i)

Sample 1: The security agents, numbering over 80 officers, had occupied the entire Blantyre streets, housing the ruling party, preparatory for the visit of the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu…(Police take over APC Headquarters in Abuja, Opera News, Wed, 7 September, 2022)

Readers are advised to note the expression, preparatory for which occurs in the context: “preparatory for the visit.” Please note that the particle taken by a form of a word is sometimes different from the one taken by another form of the same word. For example, the particle/preposition that should go with the verb prepare (or its noun preparation) is different from the one that goes with the adjective preparatory. It is important to note that the verb prepare and its noun form preparation take the particle for. But the adjective preparatory takes the particle to.

Read the following sentences:

1a) We are preparing for exams.

  1. b) We have bought materials in preparation for exams.
  2. C) Materials have been bought preparatory to exams.

2a) We are preparingfor the construction work.

  1. b) We have cleared the site in preparation for the construction work.
  2. C) We have cleared the site preparatory to the commencement of construction work.

3a) INEC is preparing for elections.

  1. b) INEC has been procuring materials in preparation for elections.
  2. C) INEC has been procuring materials preparatory to the elections.

4a) We are preparingfor the meeting.

b)The hall has been tidied up in preparation for the meeting.

  1. c) The hall has been tidied up preparatory to the meeting.

5) a) I am preparing for resumption.

  1. b) I have bought new books in preparation for resumption.
  2. c) I have bought new books preparatory to resumption.


6) a) The Super Eagles are preparing for the match.

  1. b) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp in preparation for the match.
  2. c) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp preparatory to the match.

Note the following: prepare for; preparation for; preparatory to.

 

Similarly, some Nigerians have this habit of allowing the particle on to collocate with the verb emphasize. They would say, “The chairman emphasized *on the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” The proper thing to say is: “The chairman emphasized the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” Other defective sentences and their corrected versions are as follows: Defective: The professor emphasized *on the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Corrected version: The professor emphasized the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Defective: The doctor emphasized *on the need for exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Corrected version: The doctor emphasized the need for regular exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Defective: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasize *on mechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Corrected version: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasize mechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Defective: This regime is emphasizing *on training and re-training of staff. Corrected version: This regime is emphasizing training and re-training of staff. Defective: The instructor emphasized *on the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Corrected version: The instructor emphasized the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment.

Readers should note that although the verb emphasize does not take the particle on, the noun emphasis does.

Please read the following sentences:

1) The new regime places emphasis on probity and accountability. (Compare: The new regime emphasizes probity and accountability.)

2) The emphasis in the western world is on increased technology. (Compare: The western world emphasizes increased technology.)

3) The emphasis here is on herbal medicine (Compare: Here we emphasize herbal medicine.)

4) The workshop will place emphasis on the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly. (Compare: The workshop will emphasize the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly.)

5) This government is placing emphasis on security. (Compare: This government is emphasizing security.)

6) Any training in English should lay emphasis on clarity of expression. (Compare: Any training in English should emphasize clarity of expression.)

6) Emphasis is placed on social distancing as a means of curtailing the spread of Coronavirus. (Compare: Doctors emphasize social distancing as a means of curtailing the spread of Coronavirus.)

A similar error is noted in the expression: solicit *for. The verb solicit, let us note, does not need the particle for.

Please read the following sentences:

1) The boys went out soliciting help for their sick mother.

2) Orphanages are allowed to solicit funds by law.

3) There is no law permitting beggars to solicit money.

4) Like individuals, nations can solicit aid from other nations.

5 Soliciting help takes something away from a person’s dignity.

6) Students should feel free to solicit books from publishing companies.

As another example, some Nigerians would say : “at the verge of…” instead of: “on the verge of…”

Please read the following sentences:

1) I came into the country on theverge of the general elections.

2) Now that the company is on the verge of economic breakthrough, nothing should be done to reverse its fortune.

3) The world seems to be on the verge of inventing the vaccine for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

4) The Security Council intervened at the appropriate time: the country was then on theverge of anarchy.

5) The help came at a time I was on the verge of bankruptcy.

6) War broke out on theverge of independence of the country.

The verb form also takes the particle on:

1) The delirious outbursts verge on lunacy.

2) The expression of doubt verges on malicious suspicion.

3) His condition verges on absolute poverty.

4) Her level of education verges on illiteracy.

5) The hedging vergeson dishonesty.

6) The man’s spiritual condition vergeson apostasy.

The verb border also takes the particle on and is synonymous with verge on:

1) His insensitivity borderson misanthropy.

2) The happy-go-lucky attitude borders on laziness.

3) Your attitude to your friend’s success borders on jealousy.

4) The way he has been hiding information on the matter borders on insincerity.

5) The man’s consistent refusal to obey his seniors borders on rebellion.

6) The insurgency borders on national insecurity.

Also,as we have noted repeatedly, the verb deny does not take the particle of. With the choice of the particle (of) in relation to the verb deny, some writers obviously confuse the usage of deny with that of deprive. Actually, confusion often arises in the usage of many verbs, including forestall.

Here are examples of the usage of the verb forestall:

1) The police presence is to forestall any possibility of the wild boys harassing the girls.

2) To forestall the famous scorer penetrating the front easily, two strong defence players should be arranged to tackle him.

3) To forestall an epidemic, we decided to disinfect the house.

4) To forestall a breakdown of law and order, two teams of policemen were put on patrol.

5) To forestall the Governor refusing the application, two delegates were sent ahead to plead with him.

6) The government constituted a panel that would have a dialogue with the representatives of the labour union to forestall a nationwide protest.

7) He put another lawyer on standby to forestall a situation in which no lawyer would be there to represent him.

8) To forestall a fire disaster all bowls containing petrol should be removed far from the house.

The illustrative sentences demonstrate that the verb forestall does not take any particle at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following sentences illustrate the usage of the verb prevent: 1) Children were prevented from going out after 7pm every day. 2) Journalists were preventedfrom taking pictures of the gory sight. 3) Through pressure and blackmail, the president was preventedfrom taking decisions that could jeopardize the electoral process. 4) In Yoruba land, women are prevented from witnessing certain ritual practices. 5) The firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the adjoining fuel station. 6) It was the presence of the chairman that prevented the complaints from degenerating into public riots.

In each of those sentences, the verb prevents collocates with the particle from.

Like forestall, the verb deny does not take any particle. Some Nigerian users of English have developed the habit of attaching the particle of to the verb, not realizing that it does not take any particle at all. Now read the following sentences: 1) Unfortunately, many departments were denied accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). 2) People with suspicious appearance were denied access to the hall. 3) Freedom of Information Bill is to guarantee that members of the public are not denied vital information. 4) Having been denied his own share of the profit, he headed for court.  5) No bank has the right to deny anybody access to his money. 6) The lawyer complained that the suspect was sentenced unfairly because he was denied legal representation.

In none of those sentences is the word deny allowed to be followed by the particle of or by any particle for that matter.

Now compare those sentences with the following in which the verb deprive is used: 1) People who are deprived of their rights are free to go to court. 2) It is wrong to deprive children of their meals as a form of punishment. 3) No child should be deprived of education simply because his/her parents are financially handicapped. 4) Children that are deprived of motherly care will grow up to become maladjusted adults. 5) The governor has promised that rural areas would no longer be deprived of the amenities available in the cities. 6) The lady is seeking divorce on the grounds that she has been deprived of love.

In each of those sentences, the verb deprive has been allowed to collocate with the particle of.

We have complained several times in this place about the habit of some Nigerians using particles arbitrarily in the contexts of idioms. Some Nigerians, following the dictates of their feelings and fancy, would delete particles where their presence is absolutely essential; bring in particles where they are complete strangers; freely substitute particles without any regard for the idiomatic character of the expressions involved; etc. Such carelessness and arbitrariness do violence to the idiomatic integrity of the expressions.

Take the word piecemeal for example. Instead of saying, “The money was withdrawn piecemeal,” fellow Nigerians would say, “The money was withdrawn inpiecemeal.” Then you wonder where the particle in occurring immediately before the word piecemeal comes from. Of course, it would seem that the particle comes from a particular kind of construction involving the word piecemeal: “The money was withdrawn in a piecemeal fashion.” This is an idiomatic construction requiring the presence of the particle in, but this construction should not be confused with the earlier one in which the particle is intrusive.

 

ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

 


Comments
Front Page Today

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More