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COMMONLY MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS, TERMS, & PHRASES, 14

PHRASE OF THE DAY: “IF I AM JOHN…” VERSUS “IF I WERE JOHN…”

This is “No Bullshitting“, by Harry Agina.

Greetings, folks!

Long time, no NBB blog on “Commonly Misused English Words, Terms, and Phrases!” Now, here is one for ya:

As often with my blogs, this one was inspired by a blunder on TV, this morning. What’s more, the culprit is a so-called broadcaster, and that disappoints the hell outta me, meeeeeeeen!!!

She said something similar to, “If I AM John, I WILL accept the offer.” That’s shamefully wrong, for a broadcaster, meeeeeeeen!!!

The correct sentence is, “If I WERE John, I WOULD accept the offer.” Sure, a lot of Nigerians are very confused about such sentence, just as the use of some other English words, phrases, or terms, because English is not our native language. However, as I have consistently said, such errors should not, and must never be committed by our broadcasters; otherwise, I must continue to refer to them as “so-called” broadcasters, because they are not worthy to be called real broadcasters, period!!! A broadcaster’s top requisites MUST include correct grammar, meeeeeeeen!!!

As my correction shows above, sentences of such conditional and non-existent situations must always be in PAST TENSE, and not present tense. The point here is that the speaker IS NOT, and CAN NEVER be John; so, the first-person ‘to-be’ verb, ‘AM’, and the ‘to-do’ verb, ‘WILL’, MUST be in PAST TENSE! This is just one example for many similar “if” conditional sentences. Another correct example is, “If my mama WAS alive, she WOULD feed me egusi soup and pounded yam today.” And not “If my mama IS alive, she WILL feed me egusi soup and pounded yam today.” The word “if” already signifies that the said mama is dead, and so, she CAN NEVER do any shit again, forever. Hence, you can’t rightly say “If she IS alive SHE WILL…”

But, mind you, and importantly differentiating, if there is any doubt about the death of the said mama, IN A SITUATION THAT SHE IS PROBABLY STILL ALIVE; then, and only then can one say “If my mama IS alive, she WILL…” In other words, for whatever reason, it is not really confirmed that the woman is actually dead. So, you are saying that IF IT EVENTUALLY HAPPENS THAT SHE IS STILL ALIVE (in a situation or possibility that she may be either dead or alive), then SHE WILL do whatever you are talking about when she is discovered to be still alive. But, if it is certain, like in my own case of certainty that my mama is certainly dead, then my correct grammar is: “If my mama WAS alive, she WOULD feed me egusi soup and pounded yam today”–PAST TENSE all the way. Another example: If you are not a millionaire now, you should say “If I WAS a millionaire, I WOULD buy a private jet”; and not “If I AM a millionaire, I WILL buy a private jet.” But, you can, also correctly, say “WHEN I AM (or when I become) a millionaire, I WILL buy a private jet.”

For the umpteenth time in the recent past, I insist that real broadcasters are supposed to know these things, and teach correct grammar to the “ordinary” persons in their audiences out there, for crying out fucking loud!!! And, if they can’t learn to do so, then they have no fucking business being broadcasters. Indeed, owners and managers of media houses have no fucking business in this profession, if they cannot hire true broadcasters, or properly train the HALF-BAKED Mass Communications and English graduates that they hire fresh out of school. The MANAGERS MUST also PROPERLY SUPERVISE them even after the training, as they practice the trade. A University is HARDLY a complete training ground for professionals in broadcasting, indeed most other professions too; least of all, a University in Nigeria, where TOO MANY students are just there to acquire degrees that are not worth the piece of paper that they are written on. Some of our girls fuck their evil worthless lecturers for the degrees; some of the guys pay for their own course-passe-grades and degrees; while others in dangerous secret cults employ fear-factor intimidation of the lecturers to earn their so-called degrees. Trust me, I know what the fuck I am talking about; I have been in situations in Nigeria, where I could not believe the terrible performances of some of our so-called Mass Communication and Journalism graduates, meeeeeeeen!!!

Yes indeed, I insist that correct grammar is the number one requisite of any broadcaster, anywhere in the world. And, by the way, correct grammar is not all about English; it is about correctness in whatever language that the broadcaster is  communicating to his or her audience in his or her program. So, if a Nigerian is Igbo or Yoruba, or indigene of any other race, and wants to be a broadcaster, but cannot speak correct English, then he or she must have his/her programs in Igbo, or Yoruba, or whatever native language that he/speaks. And, mind you, that’s also if he/she can actually speak the language with correct grammar. The word grammar does not only apply in English language; it applies in the whole system and structure of any language, including syntax, morphology, phonology (phonetics), and semantics.

You’d better believe that it is really not that easy to get on air to present programs in correct Igbo, or Yoruba, or any other vernacular language grammar, just for the fact that you are an indigene of that race; no sir, no ma’am!!! A broadcaster in any language MUST also learn the proper grammar of the given language, so that he/she does not teach the audience a bastardized version of the language. Citing my own self, and being an Igbo man, I can tell you that I am far more qualified in English than in Igbo grammar, having been away from Igbo-speaking environment and domiciled in the faraway land of English-speaking people since my teen age to my present advanced age. Surely, I do speak the Igbo language reasonably well, but, there are many deep Igbo words, proverbs, phonetics, and such-like, which I ain’t got no fucking idea what the fuck they mean and how to pronounce them properly. So, it would be very stupid of me to host a show on TV or Radio in Igbo language.

Finally, as I always advocate, a good option for any wannabe broadcaster out there, is our good-old “Pidgin” English, which is actually the BEST general language for our country, because it is the language that MAJORITY of Nigerians understand and speak MORE and BETTER than any other language of Nigeria. As I always posit, “Pidgin” is actually what Nigeria should correctly call our lingua-franca, and not English, as we currently erroneously claim.

As always, I trust, that you know, that I ain’t bullshitting ya, meeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!

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