I received two meaningful calls and a mail with regard to last week’s entry, which declared that there was no such word as “invitee”. Both callers—one of them a purist, my chummy and soul-mate Kenneth Ugbechie—insisted that the word existed. Another contributor, Dr. Joe Aguolu, said in his definitive mail (below) that the word was listed in an unnamed and undated dictionary and thesaurus.
“I just read your column, where you said there was ‘no word known as invitees’. On the contrary, there is. A dictionary definition has ‘invitee’ as ‘a visitor to whom hospitality is extended.’ A thesaurus has ‘invitee’ as a synonym for guest.” An instant response: if a word purportedly exists but lacks universal acceptance, it is—to me—non-existential, formally speaking!
Let me reiterate (not ‘reiterate again’!) that the focus of this column is formal (modern) British English usage—not traditional or regionalized English, which is usually dialectical with a dose of applicative circumscription!
“Invitee” is a piece of Americanism that has invaded Nigeria by way of language imperialism. Persistent abuse of a word or phrase does not confer acceptability or correctness on it. Sticklers must cleanse themselves of the juvenile indoctrination that everything in the dictionary is correct. This columnist, without being immodest, has developed the capacity and competency to justifiably question literary status quo and conventions.
This columnist is not interested in colloquial and informal (non-standard) entries, which may exist in ‘Abrahamic’ (ancient) registers, dictionaries and thesauruses! Personally, language currency is the sustainable path to toe—not faddishness, lexical conservatism, conventional wisdom and normative reliance. I have dictionaries, thesauri, English language textbooks and other general interest books which contain grammatical and factual blunders! For me, these publications are guides which are not inviolable. Even the Bible, thesaurus and Shakespearean materials, as authoritative as they are, still contain lexical, structural and informational contradictions, if not fallacies. The edition of references is also critical because what is right today may be wrong tomorrow, depending on human strides, dynamism and universal language development.
Our familiarization with dated words or expressions in vogue in our locales should not mislead us into believing that they are sacrosanct and immutable. I welcome more constructive reactions to this and other issues raised here. My position on “invitee” still stands. According to D.W. Williams, past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post.
Last week, I bought Webster’s Universal Dictionary & Thesaurus in further exploration of the two controversial words—‘invite’ (noun—not its correct verbal form) and ‘invitee’. Of course, the book stood by me and even gave me more insights into these words and others that I will share with readers here in the weeks ahead. That a word is listed in some learner’s dictionaries does not make it absolutely right. There are lexical mistakes in some dictionaries and in almost all the bibles I have come across. This is no blasphemy, please! Constructive reactions are welcome.
Back to our usual business: ”FG to conduct census on (of) older persons (simply the aged)”
“Reps (Reps’) panel grills Monguno over $44m NIA fraud”
“Continous Voter Registration (CVR)” (Full-page advertisement headline by INEC, most national newspapers, June 16, 2021) Always spell-check: Continuous. We must make our grammar count, too!
“…systems hosting classified national security information amongst (among) others.”
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is currently in a dilemma over the inability of five of the eight banks that failed the stress test in the industry in 2009 to get suitable partners.” (NIGERIAN Tribune, May 2) By every shred, “is” indicates currency. So, I do not understand this ubiquity in Nigerian newspapers: “is currently”. A rewrite: The CBN is in a dilemma….
“My most embarrasing day” (SUNDAY PUNCH Beauty Corner, May 30) Spell-check: embarrassing, but harassing.
“Exploitation of the underaged” (Sunday Tribune, May 30) Get it right: underage.
“Embattled community demands for ceasefire” (THISDAY, May 30) ‘Demand’ when used as a verb does not take ‘for’.
“First Bank Nigeria PLC’s result for the period is an attestation of the trend” (Source: as above) Money: attestation to (not of) the trend.
“…there is no doubt that she will be able to steer the ship of the bank without any doubt, writes….” (THISDAY SUNDAY BUSINESS PEOPLE, May 2) Why the overkill of ‘doubt’?
“His Excellency…the Governor of…wishes to seize this opportunity….” Straight to the point: the governor uses or takes this opportunity. ‘Wishes’ and ‘seizes’ are pedestrian and obsolete in the circumstance. ‘Seize’ means, essentially, ‘to take by force’, et al (vide Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 9th Edition, and The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of English Language 2010). This could not have been the Executive Governor’s contemplation.
“Let sleeping dog lie!” (Vanguard, May 29) Sweet and Sour: Let sleeping dogs lie.
“More grease to your elbow.” (DAILY INDEPENDENT, May 29) This way: More power (not grease) to your elbow. What future for the English language?
“I believe that our politicians ought to have become more mature, and that the maturity would manifest in their conducts (conduct).”
“My mission was to present a review of the book at the occasion.” (THE GUARDIAN, May 4) Return to the source: on the occasion.
The next three blunders are from the Nigerian Tribune of May 4: “They are taken through a two-week orientation seminar on American culture and press at the onset (outset) of the fellowship programme in June.”
“It is sad, very sad that the Nigeria police has never been known to use rubber bullets.” Checking the excesses of security operatives: The Nigeria Police have (not has).
“The assistance of government is urgently needed in this matter as lack of co-operation by many residents is hampering the activities of vigilante (vigilance) bodies.”
“Similarly, at the advent of any coup in Nigeria, we discover that power in all ramification (ramifications) is taken over by the military.”
“An average number of the Southerners are readily willing even at short notice (a comma) to stab their own brother on (in) the back, if only to have a piece of the national cake.”
“Furthermore, the South seem (seems) to have taken the north for granted for too long.’’
THE GUARDIAN of May 3 powered two mistakes: “We must entrench into (in) the statute books provisions for the recovery of stolen loot from outgoing governors, ministers and their proximate beneficiaries….” Is there any loot that is not stolen?