The fallacy of English no be my language

The fallacy of English no be my language

Friday, June 9, 2023 5:25 pm

Olufunke Cole

By Funke Cole

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone.”

~Confucius (Chinese philosopher)

By Funke Cole

Confucius’s wisecrack becomes apposite in describing the essence of language in all spheres of life and why the subject matter must be taken seriously. Well, the leitmotif of this piece will focus entirely on why the importance of this key human element cannot be overemphasised.

Whether you be a student, politician, or a layman on the street, interpersonal communication is one skill you must learn and grasp as a matter of course.
Little wonder when most people commit gaffes, or misfires or ‘tabon’ as we say in local parlance, for those who speak bad English, the culprits usually cringe because of the booing they get as a result. Recall when the famous juju maestro, Sir Shina Peters made his (in)famous statement: “grammar no be money”. He was booed by the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) students for jumbling the English grammatical expressions. That was some years ago.

One funny line some people have been mouthing whenever someone commits grammatical blunders is that, “English is not our language.” They will go as far as citing countries like China whose people speak their mothers’ tongues. The question is, do the Chinese commit grammatical infelicity as we do English in Nigeria? Is English not our official language? Why can’t we switch to our native language where we are certain of absolute proficiency? The point is, what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.

It should be borne in mind that, the way you communicate impeccably in public speaks volumes of your personality. In fact, your ability to articulate your points correctly well without any blemish is also an integral part of your personality. Learning is a continuous process. Continue to hone your communication skills in English. Stop giving ridiculous excuses that English is not our language by murdering the queen’s (sorry the King’s) language.

Indeed, there’s a sense in which good public speaking endears one to the audience and gives one a sort of sartorial air and influence around people. So if you wanna really ‘buga won’, have a good mastery of English please!

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