Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - “An advice,” “a good news”: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

Correction : Grammar (typographical) :Dear Farooq, when we sat for our "A "levels in English I smiled a little when I looked at the unseen piece of poetry..

Other corrections : my first cousin EDDIE Williams who was an SLBS news reader ( later on, for many years until recently, he ran a radio station on St: Martin , an island in the Caribbean )

In our time in secondary school we had great teachers - our art teacher Guy Massie-Taylor, in French Mr. White ( Canadian) and A.W. Rogers (Belgian) in English Mrs Fewry, Mr. Chapman (MA. Cantab) , Mr. Davies, in the fourth form Major A T von S Bradshaw ( a great admirer of China) in lower six Michael Brunson (who gave spoken life to the written word - he had read theology at Oxford where he was active in amateur theatre) and in upper six Bankole Thompson (affectionately known as "Banky" ( then a Wordsworth freak) an dof great importance at that time, The British Council



On Tuesday, 14 March 2017 14:10:07 UTC+1, Cornelius Hamelberg wrote:

"A hotbed of intrigue/ intrigues"

Indeed, familiarity does breed contempt. And indeed just as this year's Polar Prize winner Sting sang some time ago,

"If "Manners maketh man" as someone said
Then he's the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say
" (Englishman in New York)

Whose permission do I need to be or not to be, to think or not to think, to dream or not to dream the impossible dream in your beloved universal or Buckingham palace "standard English"? And exactly what is it? Is that what you speak? Is that what Sheikh Speare wrote or spoke ? Apart from a few gross grammatical errors in that little colloquial BBC blip, you sound like my friend who has never been overseas and is still rooted in Kumasi. You want to teach me English?

Pathetic.

Methinks that thou shouldst better stick to thine own comfort zone :

"Nigerian English" where you actually feel most at home.

I did not, nor do I need to proclaim my "native speakerness". I mentioned it just this once and in this discussion that you instigated. I know that you are distraught at the very thought that you are not and therefore cannot boast of the so called "native speakerness". Sorry about that. My honest opinion is that if it's your ambition to make standard English speakers out of Nigerians, you had better start with yourself. Then you could be a role model.

In my case, and ever so accidentally, it's a natural part of me, it's my language, it's what I do when I open my mouth and when somebody impolitely tells me to shut up, even when I close it, it's the language of the thoughts that run around in my head - as natural as Hausa or whatever it is that you speak and that is natural to you. There are over a hundred million such speakers. It's nothing special - it's as special as a billion Chinese who speak Chinese - they don't have to quote Wole Soyinka about "Tigritude" pouncing, nor do I in order to demonstrate by formally/informally kicking somebody's ass in the lingo which you respect so much or want to glorify or sing hallelujah about. I don't.

It's just the colonial complex that is so feverishly at work in you, bristling at the whiskers

and at the pubic hairs going up those public stairs

sometimes I feel word-drunk like Eliot

"If you remember me, my Lord, at your prayers,

I'll remember you at kissing-time below the stairs".

And just who made Farooq Kperogi an expert on "Standard English"? You're not British or English or Scottish or Irish or Welsh, at least you don't sound like one. You don't want to become a living caricature or the butt end of cruel jokes about Her Majesty the Queen's " Standard English "do you? That Nigerian or first generation Baga-Nigerian American guy who wants to set himself up as an authority over the English speaking Empire? In that case I could take apart / disembowel your little blip on the BBC or anything that you write/ have written, formally/ informally. Trust me. ( I have looked at the diction in chapter one of Chigozie Obioma's "The Fishermen" a fantastic tragedy - why he chooses one word and not the other that's more conveniently at hand (about ten examples) but what purpose other than futility would it serve to write a fulsome article/ essay on that and forward it to some relevant outlet for such thoughts?)

Farooq, I'm going to be short here - by which I don't mean that I'm going to be impolite or rude to you. I just woke up of from a dream in which I was in Cochin and speaking English. I just told my Better Half about it. I should have written the details down. Shalom, my Sephardic friend - I think he was a Kabbalist, could remember and narrate in great detail dreams he had decades ago. How? I asked him, the second to last time I met him in this life. Just grab any detail of the dream that you remember - hold on to it, grasp it, meditate on it, try to remember and like a thread it should lead you back to the beginning of the dream and voilà with a little concentrated effort you achieve total recall. That's what he told me. Total recall of a long story that - as dreams go - probably only lasted a few seconds - or like the Prophet of Islam's miraj - a billionth of a second! The second thing I noticed (I won't tell you the first) was that most of the dreams he told me sounded like didactic stories (sort of) . I understand that one of the factors contributing to the dream I had this morning was reading Vik Bahl's posting The World Wildlife Fund, Trophy Hunters and Donald Trump Jr. and at the time and exactly just now, and from my yesteryears, from way back in 1977 in India, my own fond memory of Ganesh, the elephant at Shree Gurudev ashram at Gansehpuri at the time known as Shree Gurudev Siddha Peeth which is 47 miles away from Mumbai - in those days (yesteryears) known as Bombay, which is in Maharashtra state, where they speak the Marathi language, but Baba communicated with us in Hindi which was translated into English by Malti, now known as Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. There's a picture of Diana Ross riding that elephant - in Time magazine - when she visited at exactly the same time I was there. Apart from its fabled memory one more thing that we should know about the elephant - not just in Sanskrit lore, is its immense sense of touch.

All of the above is a short specimen of written English - in which there are several types of English/ Englishes - " kick your ass " cowboy-speak etc., but no particular features of your Nigerian English - but you should know better, since I am neither a native speaker nor a speaker of your Nigerian English - although, as an actor I can imitate any kind of spoken English that you would demand of me - Prince Charles, Forrest Whitaker ( approximately) ,Lady Macbeth, slightly more difficult , Wole Soyinka....I'll tell you a 419 story a little later , this week...

I hope that you are not about to disqualify George Orwell / Eric Blair who you quote - disqualify him from speaking any of the forms of standard English - because he was born in India or the impious Salman Rushdie, on the same grounds, for having been born in Bombay, the headquarters of Bollywood.

I attended primary school in Fulham, where I acquired the accent of that area and some of the culture that goes with it, Charlotte and I (I was one class ahead of her) being brought up by her parents ( my guardians) John Jeffrey-Coker and Aunt Nelly at 144 Sinclair Road where we lived, 1952-1955. Aunt Nelly (Charlotte's mother - from Holland and indeed her brother Nigel) and Uncle Jeff instilled good manners in us - for example we distinguished between fibs and lies, said yes please and no thank you, wielded our knives and forks correctly, knew how to use our handkerchiefs

I had a Scottish step-father (John Patrick Johnson, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh a decorated WW2 Naval Officer ) and of course, I speak and can write a very correct English and be a perfect gentleman when I so desire - have no qualms about meeting royalty and apart from periods of travel have mostly lived within an English language community, all of my life. There's also a culture , customs, traditions even a sense of humour, music/ musicality, dance, poetry, that comes with the language that you're talking about. In 1963 - along with Violetta Luke and William Fitzjohn the other winners of an oral English prize awarded by the British council for our "O" level English performance, I read the evening news on SLBS a couple of times shortly thereafter - couldn't recognise my own voice ( people complained it was too British) but the same hypocrites never complained about Hannah Bright-Taylor or my first cousin Martin Williams who were news readers around that time. Much later, the drummer in our band Gipu Felix-George became the director of the SLBS.

Dear Farooq, when we sat for our "A "levels in English I smiled at little when I looked at the unseen piece of poetry ( piece of advice?) it was Ted Hughes' On the Move about the ton-up boys and no stranger to me in connection with D.H. Lawrence's "Sons of Lovers" I had gone past the oedipus complex. I think that I killed that paper. I must have. I must correct a mistake I made yesterday: My Better Half does not translate from Swedish, she translates from British/ American / New Zealand English into her mother tongue which is Swedish. She also studied English at the University of Washington which is in Seattle. Among the books that she has translated is Bruno Bettelheim's The Empty Fortress // Den tomma fästningen: infantil autism - symtom och behandling ( 516 pages ) which she mostly translated when we were in Nigeria). Last week she was teaching Ph.D. students Swedish as a foreign language. She speaks perfect English and I am of course one of her best students, all languages.

What do you make of the marginal man theory?

Before you dare reply to this - so that I may really pounce on you like a Bengal tiger and without any warning - in non-standard English if you please - remember what King Solomon said: All is vanity...

Now I must be off to see IZZY!!!!







On Tuesday, 14 March 2017 04:44:29 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:
Wole Soyinka famously said, " A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude; he pounces." If you have a need to proclaim your "native speakerness," you probably are not--especially if you don't even know enough to know that "yesteryear" is an invariably singular noun. True native speakers don't say  "yesteryears" even in their unguarded moments. And I am even talking of nonstandard regional varieties. (By the way, I am curious to know which native English dialect you speak.)

 In any case, Standard English is the English that is taught in schools, that is codified in grammar books (starting from about the 18th century), that is "curated" in dictionaries, and that is privileged in and popularized by mainstream media. Nothing that is this elaborately systematized, formalized, and methodically learned can be truly "native" to anybody. What is truly "native" is not formally learned; it is acquired. That is why "nativity" isn't always a guarantee of proficiency in Standard English--which is basically a mishmash of a multiplicity of regional dialects. That is also why many native English speakers who aren't self-conscious, methodical learners of the language do poorly in English grammar tests, and why non-native speakers who study English grammar systematically can--and do--teach native English speakers "their" language. Plus, there is a plurality of standard varieties of English, even though there is a notional international standard variety, which is perpetually dynamic.

Nor is this unique to English. Modern Standard Arabic, for instance, is (in)famous for its lack of "native speakers." Like English, it's an amalgam of several Arabic regional dialects. It is formally taught in schools and is used in the mass media, but no one speaks it outside formal contexts.

 Proclaiming to be a "native speaker" of Standard English has to rank among the most linguistically ignorant statements I've read in a long while.

Farooq

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 Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 5:44 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:
I am a native speaker of standard English

On Monday, 13 March 2017 22:20:55 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:
Being a "native English speaker" isn't the same thing as being a speaker of Standard English. They are different. Many native speakers don't speak Standard English; they speak their regional varieties. With education, they learn Standard English. There is, strictly speaking, no native speaker of Standard English.It's a consciously learned variety of English, although it is true that it is made up of parts from different native regional varieties.

"Yesteryears" is demonstrably solecistic in Standard English. I don't know the regional native English variety you speak that countenances "yesteryears." My own research tells me "yesteryears" is used mostly by non-native English speakers. Standard English speakers say "days of yesteryear" to pluralize "yesteryear." In fact, all the regional native varieties I am familiar with never say "yesteryears."

Farooq

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 Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 2:52 PM, Cornelius Hamelberg <cornelius...@gmail.com> wrote:
Maybe, because I reminise a lot I say Yesteryears although I am absolutely a native speaker and absolutely correct every time I say YESTERYEARS. I visited Izzy Young today, he reminisced a lot about New York etc about two hours, and I reminisced a lot about the Stockholm of yesteryears...

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