If you want to marry her, you must be aged ‘either’ 50 or above

Famous Taarab singer in Tanzania and the rest of East Africa, Khadija Kopa, is quoted as having said that she was ready for marriage, and she has set conditions for someone thinking of taking the challenge (Custodian, 18 February, page 18).

According to the paper: “the musician revealed if there is a man that seeks to have a lifelong partnership with her, he must be aged ‘either’ 50 or above”.

Now you know that it is written that if you use “either” you should, in most cases, also use “or”. “Either ……. or”. However, it is not always necessary, to have “either” somewhere early, in the sentence, if you are anticipating to use “or” later on. In part, this is to meet the principle of minimising the use of words, when they do not add value to the sentence, or when they distort the intended meaning.

By saying the person seeking to marry Khadija Kopa “must be aged either 50 or above” we are using one word too many: “either” is unnecessary: “Must be aged 50 or above” puts it well, while saving a word.

This is how we think the writer should have put it: “the musician revealed THAT if there is a man that IS SEEKING to have a lifelong partnership with her, he must be aged 50 or above”.

The news item we are discussing is titled: “Khadija Kopa ‘still’ searching for soulmate”.

In this headline, the word “still” is unnecessary. This is because we have not been told before that Khadija had started looking for a buddy. It is true that since her husband, Jaffari Ally, passed away in June 2013, she has been living alone, but, this is the first time we are told about her search for a soulmate. The use of “still”, implies that she embarked on the search sometime in the past, but she is yet to get the required partner.

Therefore, the headline should be rewritten, with “still” dropped; thus saving a word. “Khadija Kopa searching for soulmate”. If she does not get one for sometime, and the issue is referred to again, then the use of “still searching” will be appropriate.

So, here is an opportunity, if you are like me in terms of age. But, if you love your cold Serengeti Lite, you may not qualify. She is quoted as saying: “As you can see, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke either bhang or cigarettes”. The appropriate husband, she says, must be compatible with her lifestyle. Are you in? I am out!

We now turn to Shinyanga, from where a news item titled: “2,344 Form I students in Shinyanga Region yet to report to school” was wired to the Custodian.

In view of that situation, the Regional Commissioner has ordered a house to house search to ensure that these students report to school. Some, however, are suspected to be pregnant, and investigation into this issue is going on. As a result: “the RC instructed the police in the Region to make sure they quickly finalise their investigation on the issue of student pregnancies so that the suspects should be taken to court to face ‘legal’ charges”.

The implication here is that you could be taken to court to face “illegal charges”! Surely, that cannot be the case.

It is proposed that the sentence be re-written to use fewer words but keep the same meaning: “the RC instructed the police in the Region to make sure they quickly finalise their investigations on the issue of student pregnancies so that the suspects are taken to court”.

It looks like the issue of students dropping out of school, or not reporting altogether, is getting out of hand. Serious action should be contemplated.

Have a nice weekend!

lusuggakironde@gmail.com

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