MIND YOUR LANGUAGE: Govt urged to consider prohibiting corporal punishment “all together”!

To cane or not to cane? To spank or not to spank? These were the questions in the mind of the writer of the Editorial titled: “Review Spanking in Schools”, in the Good Citizen on Saturday (25 February, page 6).

We join the writer, right from his para one, where he states his stand: “This week two incidents have occurred in Tanzania that ‘seriously’ call for a ‘serious’ review and enforcement of laws and regulations that ‘regulate’ corporal punishment in schools”.

You “seriously call for a serious review” of “regulations to regulate” corporal punishment? It should be possible to break the monotony of using similar, or near-similar words repeatedly, in a short sentence. A proposed rewrite gets rid of one “serious”, and one “regulate”. Here we go:

“This week, two incidents occurred in Tanzania that call for a ‘serious’ review and enforcement of laws and regulations ‘related to’ corporal punishment in schools”.

In one narrated incident at a primary school in Dar es Salaam: “a pupil had her eye injured ‘due a’ corporal punishment by a teacher”.

How about rephrasing the sentence thus: “a pupil had her eye injured as a result of punishment administered by a teacher”!

We have not said “corporal punishment” since an eye is part of the human body (corpus), and any injury on any part of that body is “corporal”.

The writer puts in a word for worried parents: “There is no reason why parents should sent their children to school ‘remain’ worried about whether their loved ones would return home injured or dead as if our schools were war zones”.

A word is missing from the above sentence and we recommend that a conjunction “only”, be introduced:

“There is no reason why parents should send their children to school ‘only to remain’ worried about whether their loved ones would return home injured or dead, as if our schools were war zones”.

The writer ends up with a call for action: “It is time to seriously consider prohibiting corporal punishment in all education settings ‘all together’”.

The words “all together”, and “altogether” are known to be confusing in their use, especially since they sound the same.

The word “altogether” is used as an adverb. It means that something is complete or encompasses everything or everyone. It can be used in place of the words “wholly”, “totally”, or, “all in all”. Note that it is one word.

On the other hand, the words “all together” are never used as an adverb. They make a phrase (of two words) that means “everyone or everything gathered, or in a group”. It is used to refer to someone or something in the same place or time.

Given that tutorial, our writer should not have gone for the phrase “all together”, but rather, for the adverb “altogether” for the sentence to read:

“It is time to seriously consider prohibiting corporal punishment ‘altogether’ in all our education settings”!

Let us go international, and refer to this hullabaloo about the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the coast of S. Calorina in the US, recently. A columnist, on page seven of the Good Citizen, argues that the saga is all hot air. Balloons have been with us for years, and that it has been on one before; in the Serengeti. We quote him: “We were soon herded to a nearby place where a huge balloon was being lit. We boarded it and ‘VIOLA’, we were soon airborne….”.

Is it ‘VIOLA’? No. “Viola” is a musical instrument. The writer had in mind the French exclamation word: “VOILÀ” (pronounced “vwala”), meaning something like “there we are, you see; look, something is happening”. “Voilà”, not “Viola”!

Enjoy your first weekend of March, this fast passing year!

lusuggakironde@gmail.com

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