The English purists and masters have come down hard on those bent on recycling stale and redundant expressions, especially idiomatic statements, or figures of speech they considered as worn-out phrases that should no longer take the pride of place or occupy space, to put it plainly. There are plenty of them that to date many writers, including the journalist and the reporter still romance with, in their bid to outsmart one another to tell the news as they break, day in day out, within the local or international scene. As stated severally before now, the English vocabulary is so wide that one should not limit one’s self to spent or overused expressions that are readily available, begging for employment at the point of putting pen on paper to let out one’s opinion or get the reader or listener informed about the latest occurrence or event in town. According to the language pragmatists, these expressions listed here are no longer in vogue, though many of them look enticing to be deployed to paint a mental picture of what one meant to say.
They have become redundant as a result of being overused in every day discourse, whether in the street corners, public gatherings, or even down to the ivory tower, the citadel of learning. Avoid them like a plague in order not to be held liable for feeding the listening or reading publics with, what could figuratively be described as poison. Understand the fact that, writers set the pace and others follow. In other words, the public imitate or take after what they read or listen to, on the newspaper, the radio and television, and even books; the new media, the internet. One must therefore, exercise caution in the choice or use of words. Meanwhile, take note of the stale phrases put forward by the English purists and look for alternative expressions or synonyms to fit in, and still make clear your point of argument. Don’t even think of using the following statements, some of them idiomatic in nature though, to speak to the audience. It is seen as efforts in futility; ‘acid test,’ ‘all walks of life,’ ‘appear on the scene,’ ‘armed to the teeth,’ ‘at pains to explain,’ ‘beat a hasty retreat,’ ‘bitter end,’ ‘blazing inferno,’ ‘a bolt from the blues,’ ‘breakneck speed,’ ‘forgone conclusion,’ ‘from time immemorial,’ and more.
These are the few expressions we can pick out for now that are staled and should therefore be dumped or used sparingly, if one cannot totally abandon them. Better still replace them with suitable synonyms and sound fresh. For example, the phrase ‘acid test,’ can no more stand the test of time, just as we have it in ‘all walks of life,’ when talking about ‘a decisive test that establishes the worth or credibility of something,’ a reference material explains. The expression, ‘all walks of life,’ the one we are quite familiar with, simply put, suggests the gathering of people from different backgrounds. Explain it when writing for a mixed audience. One can easily be understood, rather than dress your opinions or reports in idiomatic statements, or figures of speech people would hardly understand and struggle to comprehend. Before we draw the curtain, take this home.
The masters and purists of the language insist that the statement ‘masquerade’ a noun, refers to the costume or juju masquerade (Ekpo), to use our local parlance, which the wearer disguises with. The person or individual that puts it on pretends to be somebody or something else. The disguiser can therefore be described as the masquerader. One can rightly report that the masquerader stormed the streets of Lagos, flogging and scaring away people going about their legitimate businesses. Therefore, to insinuate that masquerade, meaning the costume or the carved motionless wooden or graven image, except someone carries it along or wears it, stormed the street of Lagos flogging and scaring people away is absolutely incorrect. Whoever disguises himself and pretends to be the juju or Ekpo is the masquerader and not the masquerade, the carved image.