Now, this is one of the group of phrases that has been over flogged day in day out, “should in case” often used to express probability, situation or occurrences that may arise when aiming at, or doing something. Again, those prone to using the expression meant well. The point is, the “should in case” phrase is taken by the English purists and masters as a complete tautology and an overkill that is unacceptable by the pragmatists of the language that bonds together billions of people around the world. On the lighter note, some may argue that the homegrown English, if we take it like that, is to stress or emphasise one’s view point, but still it falls short of the Standard English where excuses can’t right the wrong. As I always say on this column, let us put sentiments aside, English language, like any other language of equal weight, operates on set rules that cannot be ignored or upturned for reasons best known to the writer or speaker of the language.
Separate or demarcate between the Standard and Pidgin English, just as you scrutinise your target audience to ensure you get the desired maximum reach. It is of no use addressing the market woman, for example, who is more occupied with selling her goods, and with little education, probably obtained at elementary school level, with colourful and pompous statements, but rather I would advise you to stoop low and use Pidgin English to price your way through. It is a different thing entirely when speaking to, or writing for an audience that is highly sophisticated, and made up of not only educated persons but learned men and women. You know quite well that they would match you words for words, knowledge for knowledge, and just maybe critical about your style of presentation and judge you by it. This is where standard comes in. You have to be mindful of your expressions, and so don’t give room for you to be ridiculed or shamed, using phrases such as “should in case” to make your point. Many in the audience would not stand it and indeed, would not take you serious.
In other words, stick to the Queen’s or Standard English, and depending on the segment of the society you intend to address. Never mix things up, unless you deliberately want to do so, but then the local audience, in most cases, must be told ahead before you digress. This makes sense in some way, and of course, add humour to the matter being addressed, especially when the listeners or readers appear to be saturated and tired, an indication that they had had enough. A lesson for public speakers, digression, like a short witty flashback would keep the audience awake. Here, I would like to commend our Priests for doing so well in this aspect when they say things to task worshippers to examine themselves and keep listening. Breaking it down, the sentence, though not a Standard English, “should in case” is not only loaded with tautology but a blind spot in the language one ought to be mindful of and make conscious effort to ignore. If not, one would be caught up in the web of the virus of colloquialism; this time home brewed. It is not, and it can never be accepted in the English lexicon. Understanding the correct usage of the two separate words, it is either you speak or write “should”, an auxiliary verb expressing an obligation, or “in case”, a noun to indicate if certain situation should happen or take place.
You can see clearly the repetition of words here, just as the Chambers 21st Century dictionary puts it: Tautology is the use of words which repeat the same meaning found in other words already used. For example, “I myself personally am fed up with his bad behaviour.” Note it; I myself personally…” is tautology. As a matter of fact, “should” as an auxiliary verb tells us what ought to, obligation, duty or recommendation; likelihood or probability. One can correctly speak or write thus: “You should take the children to school every morning.” Using the first person pronouns is about the consequence of a condition- “if she gives up the job today before your arrival from the trip, what would happen?” “Should” is also the past tense of “shall” in reported speech. Am sure, journalists and reporters are aware of this, that the one-syllable words, “should”, “would”, “could”, take the place of “shall”, “will”, “can” in reported speech. Similarly, the phrase “in case”, a lone and complete statement without the attachment or prefix “should” indicates that, so as to be prepared or safe should issues arise or in case of something; if a certain occurrence happens. Also in that case; if that happens, since that has happened, the dictionary further throws more light to educate us. So, dump the tautology, “should in case.” Use them as separate vocabularies to tell the story you want your audience to hear and understand.