RE: SV: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

Ken,

You play the Ostrich here.  Your man Farooq Kperogi is arrogant, uncouth and self-opinionated.  He wants to be the gatekeeper of the English language. An impossible task.  He wants to be the sole determinant of what is standard and non standard English.  He equates proficiency in English with intelligence and finally he thinks because he knows some arcane rules of English which is of little value to any one else he can denigrate our African mother tongues!

As you can see he is the completely brainwashed African whose mind is thoroughly colonised and you as a colleague owe him a duty to help him find his way down from his flight of fancy.

Nuff said for now.

Cheers.


IBK

Sent from my Windows Phone

From: Kenneth Harrow
Sent: ‎01/‎11/‎2016 05:51
To: usaafricadialogue
Subject: Re: SV: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

Dear salimano

Thank you for flattering me, but I don't think flattery will really get you very far here. I do regard Farooq as an authority on English and on language; I didn't see where he claimed any more than that, and the fight over whether a word used in Nigeria can be legitimately considered standard in the u.s. seems like a non-issue. What are we really debating here? The personality of Farooq? I have no desire to judge anyone on this list; not anyone at all, under any conditions.

Whether the u.s. stands above Nigeria in its use of English? What would the point be?

My interest, which I guess no one else takes quite as seriously, is the place of pidgin, and "English" language of sorts, that developed in Nigeria into what seems to me to be an African language. I learned a bit of it in Cameroon; my dear colleague bole butake, who just passed, wrote plays in pidgin; Nigerians of the highest literary merit, like Soyinka and achebe, have turned to it often.

My real advice is for us to move on over the debates w farooq's place or qualifications etc. it won't profit anyone. But if language itself is the issue, then considering the piece in the thread below, which you cite, we could profitably respond to the ngugi-like issue that an African language is the only appropriate vehicle for the expression of African culture because it is grounded in African epistemology and values. My question then is, well, if Swahili—also a creolized language—is African enough to be a national language in east Africa, what of pidgin?

What priorities continue to downvalue it? Should we not be advocating for its just place, culturally and nationally? If not, why not?

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Salimonu Kadiri <ogunlakaiye@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Monday 31 October 2016 at 18:31
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: SV: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

Kenneth,

In a brawl between two persons in which you have actively sided with one of the combatants, it sounds to me as an afterthought diplomacy to declare neutrality by mimicking King Lear - Me too, I don't want to jump into a fight! Please make peace, and we can move on... (From Kenneth's post, Sunday, 30 Oct. 2016, time 6:18).

If you have forgotten, I will remind you that at 11:05 on Friday, 28 October 2016, Farooq Kperogi, among other things, wrote thus, "Ask any of your American friends or colleagues if they use "outrightly" as the adverb of "outright." May be we should ask Dr. Harrow, a professor of English and the native speaker of the language, how the word sounds to him." At 1:15 PM on Friday, 28 October 2016, Kenneth Harrow wrote in response to IBK thus, "Dear IBK, Where does Farooq say he is the sole determinant of standard English? Did I miss it?" Later on the same Friday at 19: 05 you, Kenneth Harrow,  responded to Farooq's earlier request to you for arbitration on the right use of the word "outrightly" thus, "Dear all, I never heard anyone say outrightly. ....//.... As for Farooq, he is not a gatekeeper." With your response, you actually jumped into the fight over the use of the word of "outrightly," despite the fact that the user of the word referred to the online dictionaries licensed in the US  as the authentic source of the word. After jumping into the river, you now say you don't want to be wet!! Common Kenneth, you must finish what you have started. You asked IBK where Farooq claimed to be the sole determinant of standard English and I have provided you with incontrovertible excerpts from Farooq's postings. I have always regarded you as a fair and honest person. It is because of my regard for your fairness and honesty that necessitated my request to you to take a stand, just as you did on the use of the word "outrightly," and tell us if, by virtue of the excerpts from Farooq's postings, he has claimed to be sole determinant of standard English or not. My request is not a challenge to combat with you or anybody hence, you cannot hide under the pretence of not wanting to jump into a fight but to make peace and move on in order to avoid taking a honest and fair stand on Farooq's claim to be the sole determinant of standard English.

 

I thank Professor Buba for his suggestion which I think is in tandem with the postulation of late Professor Babs Fafunwa that the foundation of education in Nigeria should be built first and foremost on indigenous languages. As the Yoruba saying goes, the greatest tragedy in life is to get to ones desired goal and finding it empty. Nigerians spit out fire in written and spoken English Language but their fire cannot light ordinary cigarette not to talk of generating electricity. The perfect Nigerian speakers of standard English destroyed our textile industries only to license themselves as sole importers of clothes. But for the stubborn non-English speaking Fulani herdsmen, the verbose English speaking Nigerian veterinary scientists would have turned themselves into Nigeria's importers of biffs from Europe and America. The Nigerian grammarians of English cannot refine crude oil, consequently, the crude oil exporting Nigeria has to depend on fuel import and the fuel importers are the Oxford English speaking Nigerians. Nigerian experts in English language destroyed our agriculture to the extent that Nigeria now depends on imported rice to feed her people. In every aspect of life, Nigerians are very fluent in spoken and written English but nothing functions properly in the country. 

 

Unlike Farooq Kperogi whose egocentric motive was to publicly upbraid fellow Nigerians for committing grammatical blunders in English language, Ayotunde Bewaji reminds us that no American has ever upbraided Donald Trump for his poor and foul use of English Language. People of England, in fact, consider the type of English spoken in  America as *cow-boy English.* That consideration has to do with how America was founded. The US as it is today, originated as a mixture of people from various European countries whose languages were different from English Language, although England was first to begin colonial settlements in America. It started with Sir Humphrey Gilbert publishing in 1576 his *Discourse to prove a passage by the North West to Cathaia and the East Indies.* Therein, he set out the advantages of establishing colonial settlements (to be inhabited by dispossessed proletarians and ex-convicts from Britain). Sir Humphrey Gilbert wrote, "We might inhabit part of those countries, and settle there such needy people of our country which now trouble the commonwealth, through want here at home are forced to commit outrageous offences, whereby they are daily consumed with the gallows." (quoted by R. Palme Dutt in The Crisis Of Britain And The British Empire, p.71) It is remarkable that the proposed colonial settlement presumed expulsion or/and extermination of the original inhabitants. In 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh established the first colony in Virginia. The American colonists from Britain were not Whig or Tory noblemen but derelict wastrels, broken men and felons who were the fittest persons to send overseas. Britain considered it better to export their mischievous and useless citizen as the best method of refining criminals. "And after 1719, under two statutes of George I," Lord Elton wrote, "several hundred convicts were shipped annually to Virginia. The Annual Register of 1766 contains a lively picture of the convicts ... passing to the waterside in order to be shipped for America ... And Georgia, the last of the thirteen colonies, was founded in 1733 by the philanthropic General James Oglethorpe expressly for the moral reformation of the inmates of English debtors, prisons, who as he put it in his Brief Account of the Establishment of Georgia, would otherwise starve and burden England. (p.94, Imperial Commonwealth By Lord Elton)." From historical accounts, the early colonial settlers in the US were British semi-literate and illiterate  criminals sentenced to banishment to the American colony. In spite of the low level of literacy among the extradited English felons to the USA, Britons constituted the majority among European colonial settlers in the USA and therefore, English became native language even for other settlers from Germany, Netherland, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland and others, whose original mother tongues were different from English. The above stated facts explain why American English is not pure and is quite different from the Queen's English.

 

As for Donald Trump poor spoken English, it would probably not matter  if he should become the US president provided he has his innate intelligence intact. The 17th President of the United States, 1865 - 1869, was a tailor apprentice and an illiterate. He got married at the age of 18 in 1827 to a 16 year old daughter of a local shoe-maker, Elizabeth Mc Cardle. Andrew Johnson's wife taught him how to read and write. Yet he was elected a Mayor, a member of Tennessee House of Representatives, a member of the US Congress where he served for ten years, 1843 - 1853. He was Governor of Tennessee between 1853 and 1857, US senator from 1857 to 1862 and military governor of his occupied Tennesse during the civil war between 1862 and 1865. On March 4, 1865, he was Vice President to Abraham Lincoln in his second term and became President 42 days later when Lincoln was assassinated. Just as the command of English language is not a requisite to be a good President so is fluency in spoken and written English language in Nigeria not a requisite for, production of irons and steels, refinery of crude oil, generation of electricity, production of potable water and building of infrastructures. Nigeria's scientific and technological developments can only evolve from our indigenous languages which to certain extents are inter-related. I am with you, Buba.  

S.Kadiri    


 

 


Från: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> för Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>
Skickat: den 30 oktober 2016 20:47
Till: usaafricadialogue
Ämne: Re: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

Thanks for the validation olayinka.

Another thing I remember from that said transcription, he'd start a sentence and then switch halfway through to another sentence or thought, or then go back again.

We don't always speak in complete sentences, or with punctuation!

And of course our purpose in speaking is not to be correct in any formal sense, but to communicate something. And so very often it will be simply a phrase or a part of a sentence.

 

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Sunday 30 October 2016 at 15:11
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

 

You are absolutely right Ken. To put it another way when taking my ESOL teaching qualifications I was told that educated Africans sounded stilted when speaking precisely because they tended to speak the ' correct' English 'bookish' version of English devoid of the ellisions and contractions that charactetize normal native spoken English (It is the total flow these that is called intonation and the exact variable characteristics of these constitute what is referred to as regional accents, or, better regional intonation.)

 

 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

 

 

-------- Original message --------

From: Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>

Date: 30/10/2016 17:44 (GMT+00:00)

To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>

Subject: Re: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

No, because when we speak we run the words and sounds together. Just listen to yourself and others; we slur our way through words; we elide and collapse words. We don't always  match the proper subj and number with the verb.

We are communicating, not printing speech. And most of all, with intonation we create meaning that words, without sound, can't quite capture.

That is my impression, anyway.

I am talking about conversational speech; not written texts.

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Sunday 30 October 2016 at 11:51
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

k

enneth harrow,

are you not exaggerating?

 

toyin

 

On 30 October 2016 at 15:39, Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu> wrote:

Tunde, I try not to listen to trump. But I think we need to distinguish two things: one is "correct" standard English, which we can read in formal exposition, and then spoken English.

Believe me, no one speaks "correct" English.

I once edited a series of talks given at the Afr Lit Assn, including those of gates and said and other luminaries.

Believe me, no one speaks "correct" English!

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Sunday 30 October 2016 at 11:12
To: usaafricadialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

I would like to appreciate Buba's call for  the necessity of amplifying the use of   indigenous languages.

I'm wary, though, about the notion of indigenous cultures, of which languages are a part, as the solution to Africa's development problems.

Is development not more complex than that?

toyin

 

 

On 30 October 2016 at 10:41, 'Ayotunde Bewaji' via USA Africa Dialogue Series <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> wrote:

Does anyone ever listen to Donald Trump mangle up the American English Language? Does anyone notice any American Professor upbraid him or put him down? By taking American English seriously, Americans understand the need for language independence, suggested by Professor Malami Buba that we take our own languages seriously - proven by research at University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now OAU) decades - we will be laying the eternal foundations of our own continental development. 

 

I am still hoping to take seriously a challenge of a Canadian colleague that I write an essay for him in Yoruba language in my area of interest - Epistemology! I have not had the courage to do it yet, but I will, there being life and good health. This still reminds me of Tunji Oyelana on Ede Oyinbo kii se ti baba mi, shared by me previously. And it is one of the reasons I did The Rule of Law and Governance in Indigenous Yoruba Society - A Study in African Philosophy of Law (2016). 

 

Remember the distraction of African societies lacking literary cultures, literatures, histories, philosophies, social and political traditions, etc, etc. At times, I wonder why the gba ran mi d'eleru ti a ji ni do d'oko fun ni. We are a strange people in deed. Oriki Esu Laalu Ogiri Oko shows this well - o b'elekun sun'kun k'eru o b'elekun, elekun n sun'kun, Laaroye n sun ejeI Eni a pe ko wa wo gobi, to ni ki lleleyi gobi gobi? O ma se o! It did for our collective bodi! How we are now our best enemies - Narratives of Struggle (2012).

 

Ire ni o.

 

Tunde.

 

On Sunday, 30 October 2016, 6:18, Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu> wrote:

 

Salimonu,

One of my favorite lines from King Lear is, do not come between the lion and his wrath (or maybe it is wroth!)

Me too, I don't want to jump into a fight!

Please make peace, and we can move on….

Best

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Salimonu Kadiri <ogunlakaiye@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Saturday 29 October 2016 at 17:12
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

Kenneth Harrow, may I draw your attention to the excerpts from the response of Professor Farooq Kperogi's to Professor Bolaji Aluko's post in which the latter admitted thus, "This *outright(ly)* war is all my fault."

 

Kperogi: It is true that your post was the immediate trigger for my column, but I had written about this at least seven years earlier.... ..//.. Online dictionaries didn't have an entry for "outrightly" 7 years ago when I first wrote on the word.

You have lived in the US continuously for more than four decades, mostly in university environments. Ask any of your American friends or colleagues if they use "outrightly" as the adverb of "outright." It is merely to let people know that it's nonstandard, that the educated native speakers of the language don't use it.

On the part of Professor Aluko he wrote inter alia thus, "May I confess that in my 1970 WAEC, I got an A1 in English Language and Physics, A2 in Literature, Mathematics and Chemistry and A3 in French and Biology (with a torrid C4 which leaked in my year and had to be re-taken)."

 

My questions to you Professor Harrow are these:

1. If Professor Farooq Kperogi does not arrogate to himself the power of the sole determinant of standard English, why should the use of the word *outrightly* by Professor Aluko be the immediate trigger for his column on the same word he had written about 7 years ago?

2. If Professor Kperogi does not arrogate to himself the power of the sole determinant of standard English why should he be upset that Professor Aluko chose to adopt the usage of online dictionaries of that word?

3. What has living in the US continuously for more than four decades and mostly in the university environments by Professor Aluko, as emphasized by Kperogi, got to do with freedom of choice to use online dictionaries?

4. If Professor Kperogi does not assume himself to be the sole determinant of standard English, why does he want to let people (not Professor Aluko alone) know that "outrightly is nonstandard that the educated native speakers of the language don't use it?

5. Can Professor Kperogi give us the ratio between non-educated native speakers of English language in the US and educated native speakers of the language?

6. If the non-educated native speakers of English language are permitted to use the word "outrightly," as indirectly indicated by Farooq, without any obvious disadvantage, why then should the educated native speaker be disallowed to use it?

7. Instead of you telling us that you have never heard anyone say "outrightly" why have you not used your professorship in English to improve the online dictionaries?

 

Just as it has been referenced above, Professor Aluko had his basic education in Nigeria where English is not a native language, before proceeding to the US for further studies in Engineering and not in English language. Nevertheless, he would not have been able to succeed academically in his Engineering studies without adequate understanding of English Language, which is not even his mother tongue. A sophisticated mathematical problem in Engineering which Professor Aluko can solve with his eyes closed in a jiffy, Professor Kperogi, and regardless of his amplitude in English language, will not be able to solve it even if he is given a year to tackle it because a Professor of English Language does not automatically transform to a Professor of Mathematics.

 

Somewhere else on this thread, Professor Farooq Kperogi wrote, "I have chosen to ignore IBK's unintelligent rants because I know he is just smarting from a really hurtful smack." Professor Farooq Kperogi would appear to have forgotten the admonishment in Quran 31 : 18 that says, "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth, for God loveth not any arrogant boaster." An arrogant boaster is what the psychologists call the neurotic (proud idealist) and describe as an angry person, who feels angry when events do not affirm his/her idealized self image. Interestingly, the idealistic personality can so completely identify with the wish for fictional ideal self that he/she forgets that he/she is not that ideal self and from his/her fictional heights boasts about his/her superiority to other persons. With that said I can only appeal to the Albino to look into the mirror and stop seeing himself as a white man.

S.Kadiri

 


 

 


Från: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> för Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com>
Skickat: den 28 oktober 2016 22:14
Till: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com
Ämne: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

 

 

As I once stated, and now with knowledge of the context for the start of this 'outright''debate I think its in bad taste to prolong it any further not because people do not have the right to pursue their research intetests, but because participant observer research requires a measure of discretion regarding period of collation of data (or fresh data) and the time and manner of presentation.  

 

To be blunt participant observer research as opposed to chemical research uses human communities as 'laboratory guinea pigs" and as such sensitivity and taste is paramount and this is a different order from accuracy or non accuracy of data.

 

Lets move on...

 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

 

 

-------- Original message --------

From: Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu>

Date: 28/10/2016 19:49 (GMT+00:00)

To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>

Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

Dear ibk

Where does Farooq say he is the sole determinant of standard English?

Did I miss it?

As for proffering an opinion on what is standard or not, and a judgment on where we go to find what is standard, why can't an expert in the field offer that opinion? It isn't so easy to get judgments on such things: go look on how to provide an entry for a film in a filmography of a publication: there are zillions of different ways, so each journal or press has to find its own standard to follow. We don't do this simply on the basis of each individual's predilections.

The same when we correct our students' papers. There has to be some reference point for whether to us a possessive apostrophe after the s, as in Camus' house, or Camus's house. Which reference book are you going to use?

So why jump on Farooq for saying how we go about trying to get answers for this? why not call such a decision something that is standard? No one is gatekeeping here; it is actually interesting stuff, how all this comes about.

 

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

 

From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Ibukunolu A Babajide <ibk2005@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Friday 28 October 2016 at 12:57
To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Farooq, Funmi and Yona

 

Farooq Kperogi,

 

Your long piece enjoyed my full attention.  From your feeble gatekeeping attempts at being the determinant of what is standard and non-standard English to the sad ignorant fact that you raise the use of "Rubbish in - Rubbish out" methods of using computers to determine language a dynamic living and evolving cultural phenomenon to a silly dizzying height.  I am not surprised you fit that mould perfectly.

 

You remind me of a Yoruba proverb.  "Alagbara ma mo ero, baba ole" crudely transalted into English in context of this exchange may mean a keen intellect unguided by wisdom is "outrightly" foolish.

 

You wrote:

 

"Now, let me be clear: the whole object of my intervention was not to insist that people abandon the use of the word; it is merely to let people know that it's nonstandard, that educated native speakers of the language don't use it. I neither have the power nor the inclination to police anybody's English usage. That's why the fulmination that I'm "ramming down" usage rules down people's throats is so pitifully silly."

 

So you are the sole determinant of what is standard and nonstandard English?  My friend you are not, and you show a little maturity when you conceded that, "I neither have the power nor the inclination to police anybody's English usage." and by extension you will not be the gatekeeper and last word on what is standard or nonstandard English.

 

Now go and concentrate on your next paid column.

 

Cheers.

 

IBK


 

 

_________________________

Ibukunolu Alao Babajide (IBK)

 

On 28 October 2016 at 18:05, Farooq A. Kperogi <farooqkperogi@gmail.com> wrote:

Professor Aluko,

 

It is true that your post was the immediate trigger for my column, but I had written about this at least 7 years earlier, as the embedded link in my article shows. It wasn't your "bait" that inspired my intervention; it was both because I had written about it several times in the past and because I wanted to give people who might want to know the whole story of "outrightly" and other peculiar Nigerian English words and expressions the benefit of my knowledge.

 

 It may interest you to know that online dictionaries didn't have an entry for "outrightly" 7 years ago when I first wrote on the word. It was added courtesy of repeated searches for the word in search boxes of online dictionaries, apparently by non-native English speakers who habitually use it on analogy to the adverbial form of "right." Modern lexicography has incorporated web-based corpus linguistics in generating the lexical repertoire of languages. This is particularly true of English. So the fact that a word exists in (an online) dictionary actually doesn't say much. It merely means lexicographers have determined that the word is used often enough by so many people to deserve an entry. Dictionaries that incorporate usage notes will often go further and indicate if a word is nonstandard, regional, informal, formal, archaic, etc. "Ourightly" may well acquire sufficient social prestige to be countenanced in educated circles in the UK, the US and other countries where English is a native language, but it's not there yet.

 

You have lived in the US continuously for more than four decades, mostly in university environments. Ask any of your American friends or colleagues if they use "outrightly" as the adverb of "outright." Maybe we should ask Dr. Harrow, a professor of English and native speaker of the language, how the word sounds to him.

 

Now, let me be clear: the whole object of my intervention was not to insist that people abandon the use of the word; it is merely to let people know that it's nonstandard, that educated native speakers of the language don't use it. I neither have the power nor the inclination to police anybody's English usage. That's why the fulmination that I'm "ramming down" usage rules down people's throats is so pitifully silly.

 

I am paid by Daily Trust to write a weekly grammar column and a weekly general-interest column. That's why I write every week and share what I write on social media platforms. Hundreds of people ask me questions on grammar and usage every single day, most of which inform my weekly interventions. I was busy last week and decided to expand on my response to your post for my column.

 

If you intentionally use certain words and expressions that you know to be nonstandard, because you are addressing a specific audience that recognizes and habitually uses the nonstandard expressions, say Nigerian English speakers, that is perfectly legitimate. I do that all the time myself. For instance, I realize that most Nigerians say "blackmail" where native English speakers would say "smear." So I say "blackmail" (where I should say "smear") when I write for an exclusively Nigerian audience, especially on social media. But I know enough not to say that when my audience is global. I once called the capacity to navigate the contours of different linguistic environments in the same language "multi-dialectal linguistic competence." If you had defended your use of "outrightly" as an intentional usage directed at a Nigerian audience, I would have been one of your biggest cheerleaders. But you insisted that it was Standard English because some online dictionaries have an entry for it, which is "outrightly" (hahaha!) wrong.

 

This is important because knowing the difference between unique Nigerian English usage and Standard English usage can sometimes be life-changing for many people. If you have some time, read these articles I wrote two years ago on how Nigerian English can cause you to be mistaken for a 419 email scammer by native English speakers in the West: 

 

 

See below the introduction I wrote to the series:

 

Have you ever sent an email to someone or some people in the United States, Canada, Britain or some other English-speaking Western country and didn't get a response? Well, it is entirely possible that your email didn't even make it to their inbox. If it did, it is also possible that certain uniquely Nigerian expressions in your email that were popularized in the West by Nigerian email scam artists triggered a scam alarm and caused you to be ignored. What are these "419 English" expressions that are like waving a red flag in front of a bull in the West?

 

First some context. A few days ago, a Nigerian Facebook friend of mine, who is also a professor here in the United States, put up a status update that inspired this column. He wrote: "Was I really wrong? Was the professor at the other end of the telephone line correct? She read my email and decided to withdraw her offer of introducing me to people in environmental education because my written English 'is suspect.' So I asked her to give me an example of something I expressed incorrectly. The first example was 'I hope to read from you soon.' She said the correct expression is 'I hope to hear from you soon.'

 

 "I cleared my throat and informed her that it was not a face-to-face communication and that I thought the word to hear did not fit into a totally text-based communication. She did not sound impressed and till date never returned my calls. Should I change my communication style and let orality creep into my text? Does anyone know the rules about such things?"

 

 As I wrote in my contribution to his update, the American professor who called his English "suspect" and stopped communicating with him on the basis of his "suspect" English was most certainly rude and uncharitable. Unfortunately, however, ending email communication with "I hope to read from you soon" is not only unconventional among native English speakers; it's also one of the core phrases associated with 419 emails from Nigeria, which is frankly unfair because it's part of the lexical and expressive repertoire of Nigerian English. It's the worst example of what I call the pathologization of the linguistic singularities of a people.

 

However, this incident should cause us to reflect on the place of Nigerian English in inter-dialectal English communication, especially because 419 emails have done more to popularize Nigerian English to the rest of the English-speaking world than anything else. That means the stylistic imprints of scam emails from Nigeria vicariously criminalize many innocent Nigerians, as the Nigerian professor's case and similar other unreported cases have shown.

 

Concerns about authorship attribution of fraudulent e-mail communications emerged fairly early in studies of Internet fraud. Computational linguists and information systems specialists have deployed strategies to perform software forensics with intent to identify the authors of fraudulent e-mails.  Oliver de Vel and his colleagues, for instance, employed a Support Vector Machine learning algorithm for mining e-mail content based on its structural characteristics and linguistic patterns in order to provide authorship evidence of scam e-mails for use within a legal context.

 

I know this because about 10 years ago I did research on the rhetorical strategies and stylistic imprints of 419 emails. In the course of my research I came across several forensic linguistic programs that developed email authorship identification markers based solely on phrases and expressions that are unique to 419 email scams. The software developed from these programs helps people automatically trash "419-sounding" emails. 

 

 The problem, as you can expect, is that the software also deletes many legitimate emails from honest Nigerians since the alarm triggers for the software are uniquely Nigerian English expressions. "Hope to read from you soon" features prominently in the repertoire of "red-flag" expressions the software uses to identify 419 emails. (For evidence, search "I hope to read from you soon" on Google and see what comes up).

 

When my friend quoted his American acquaintance as saying that his English was "suspect" based on certain expressions, such as "I hope to read from you soon," I knew immediately that the American was hinting that some of his expressions raised Nigerian 419 email authorship identification red flags. The professor is probably familiar with 419 email authorship identification programs and the phrases that trigger them.

 

One won't be entirely wrong to call the whole host of 419 email authorship identification programs as engaging in borderline linguistic racism because they basically pathologize and criminalize the stylistic idiosyncrasies of an entire non-native English variety. All of us who were born and educated in Nigeria can't escape Nigerian English inflections in our quotidian communicative encounters every once in a while.  The 419 scam artists write the way they do because they are the products of the Nigerian linguistic environment. It's like isolating American English expressions that appear regularly in the emails of American scammers and developing an authorship identification program based on these expressions so that any email from any American, including even the American president, that uses any stereotyped American English expression is automatically "suspect."  

 

Well, instead of dwelling in self-pitying lamentation, I've decided to highlight some of the stock Nigerian English expressions that email authorship identification programs use to identify Nigerian 419 email scammers—and unfairly criminalize many honest Nigerians.

 


Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media

Social Science Building 

Room 5092 MD 2207

402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.com

Twitter: @farooqkperog

Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

 

On Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 3:01 AM, Mobolaji Aluko <alukome@gmail.com> wrote:

TF:

 

This "outrught (ly)* war is all my fault.

 

I used the word innocently recently without ever knowing  that it had been  explicutly banned as non-standard by English  Professor Farooq (Faruk?) on these boards.  One of my usual caterwauling trasducers - fancifully called Nebukadineze (Nebukadnezzer?) - then wrote that it was not an English word at all, only for me to show that it exists in several reputable online dictionaries  (I have not bought a physical dictionary  in forty yesrs), only for Farooq to write that only words in the physical  Oxford dictionary  count, particularly in polite  company  should be used by educated professorial l elites like himself and yours truly.

 

But before Farooq actually came into the war - I know I shouldn't  start a sentence  with "but*, but who is grading?  - I had teased him by once signing off as mimicking him.  He took the bait in Trumpian fashion - with his admirers and detractors then taking him on ever since with Trumpian- and Clintonian-support gusto.  He has in the process shown  himself as a true English Language (Sergeant) Major, no pun intended. 

May I confess that in my 1970 WAEC, I got an A1 in English Language and Physics, A2 in Literature, Mathematics  and Chemistry and A3 in French and Biology (with a torrid C4 in BK which leaked in my year and had to be re-taken). Emulating one weird friend also prepsring for WASCE, I read a dictionary  daily, seeking a new word (and its usage and pronunciation) each day.  So I was really torn between becoming a Kperogi or myself - but God saved me, and I became an Engineer! 

 

So let us move on.  I will continue to use words as I see fit.  If you don't  know the meaning of any word that I use, please ask, and I will tell you.  If it is not in the dictionary  of your choice, please add it to the next edition - and I would thereby have joined the zillion makers of the language.

 

And there you have it.

 

 

Bolaji Aluko

 

 

On Thursday, October 27, 2016, Toyin Falola <toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:

Dear all:

 

Three members on this list provide the best in terms of service, far more than I can ever do:

 

Farooq on sensitivity to words, language, and governance. We cannot thank him enough. I cherish reading all his post and I actually send many of them to my students. I once challenged him in a private message to discuss how we can move forward as a nation as he has fresh ideas which break conventional boundaries and he is not a respecter of traditions that don't work. 

 

Funmi on expanding our reading and creative horizons. We cannot thank her enough. I don't know her, and I was touched as to how she reacted when she lost a friend and a relation, the professor killed by his driver.

 

Yona on resources to transform the continent. We are grateful.

 

The recent discussion on "outright" and "outrightly", to me, contains outright distractions which may be outrightly unnecessary.  Stop.

 

Let us celebrate greatness when we see one: these three talented people are doing this generation a lot of service. Farooq is not driving down his ideas down anyone's throat, just as prophets of change don't accompany their words with AK47; Funmi is not calling anyone an illiterate for not reading her weekly recommended texts; and Yona is not asking anyone to use the resources.

 

Stay blessed, we all. I use "we all" in a deliberate version. Language is located in context and tradition: what is after 6 is more than 7. Someone sees 7, but others can see 13!  If you see 13, do not think the one who sees 7 is wrong.

TF

Toyin Falola

Department of History

The University of Texas at Austin

104 Inner Campus Drive

Austin, TX 78712-0220

USA

512 475 7224

512 475 7222 (fax)

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