The article takes the reader twenty years back when a similar demonstration took place in 1991 that left “nine police officers and two ‘canine dogs’ dead”. The word “canine” is both an adjective and a noun. As an adjective it means “anything relating to dogs” eg canine health. As a noun it actually means a dog. Thus there cannot be any reason why one should talk of “canine dogs”.
“Dogs”, or possibly “police dogs” would have been more appropriate. One thing I remember from my English teacher, Mr Priest, is that idioms have a history and should be taken as given and not be tampered with. An idiom is an expression whose meaning is different from the meaning of the individual words. Sometimes however, writers feel happy to change the wording of the idioms.
In early April there was a seminar on agriculture in Tanzania and the editor of the Eastern African Business Week (April 23-29, p. 4) captured this by arguing, in the editorial that :”Tanzania should empower farmers, investors”. “With modern forms of agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation, the sky is the ‘lower’ limit of what the country can reap from this resource Tanzania has in land”.
The actual wording of the idiom is: “the sky is the limit” which means there is no limit to what one can do. To say “the sky is the lower limit” is illogical because it implies that there is something higher than the sky. Is there? If the sky is the lower limit what is the upper limit?
A columnist, writing on the stormy Parliamentary session, before the recent Cabinet reshuffle, had suggested that there should be an “Implementation Committee for the Cabinet” (Daily Blog 27 April, p. 9). “Almost every MP who stood up had uncompromising comments on the way the government was handling financial matters costing heavily the tax-payer’s money.
But, three speakers ..... ‘were thorns in the very flesh of the government’”. The actual wording is: “to be a thorn in somebody’s side or flesh”. So those three speakers were a thorn (not thorns) in the flesh of the government”. I am given to understand that shop keepers in this country do not want to provide would-be customers with pro-forma invoices.
A pro-forma invoice is a quotation that tells a customer how much a particular piece of work/ article would cost. Shop keepers find such invoices a waste of stationery providing information which exposes them to competitors. Remember, the price of most things is not fixed, there is always some bargaining expected and done.
But, in order to conform to Procurement procedures it is many times imperative that pro-forma invoices be solicited. Gleaning over one such invoice recently, I found a number of entertaining words. One was the “unity” price of the article that was being sought. This should have been the “unit” price. The quotation was not to last for ever: “Valey for 7 waking days”, which of course should have read: “Valid for seven working days”.
We now travel to Iringa where this institution of higher learning has advertised a number of tenders one of which reads as follows: “Provision, general cleanness, landscarping, and slashing of the area along Zone B, Tender No. ......”. Whoever drafted the tender was most probably thinking of: “Provision of general cleanliness, landscaping and ............”.
People in Iringa have a number of attributes: They may kill themselves when angry; they are reputed to eat canines; but they also pronounce “nt” as “nd”. Thus Fanta is pronounced Fanda. In some other parts of the country natives mix up “r” and “l”.
This may apply to the writer of the caption under a photograph appearing on page 5 of the Good Citizen (wrongly dated 16 June 2011 instead of 16 May 2012) which reads as follows: “The winner of the ‘Grobal” World Children’s Prize explains to a reporter ...... how she clinched the award......”. No, it is nor Grobal, or even Grobar, but Global. Have a nice weekend!