The rite of passage is a long held tradition in Nigeria and the rest of the world to give those we hold dear to our hearts and relatives a befitting and decent burial when they transit to join their ancestors or the saints in heaven. Although the Catholic Church admonishes the living to ponder over the three last things that await human kind at the point of ending the earthly journey-death, judgement, heaven or hell, depending on the choice we voluntary make. Remember that God the Almighty and our creator in His magnanimity and infinite love and mercy has given man the freedom to choose freely what he wants in life.
But the Church in its wisdom enjoins us to strive to live the righteous life if we must make heaven and escape hell. On that note, I welcome you once more to the world of tautology, saying or writing of the same thing over again in different words, seen as a fault of style. For example, this expression, and quoting from the Oxford Dictionary of Current English; ‘they arrived one after the other in succession’ is tautology. It is either ‘they arrived in succession’ or ‘they arrived one after the other.’ Not the tautological phrase, ‘they arrived one after the other in succession.’
That again brings to mind one other common error or tautology that frequently stares us in the face whenever we peep into posters or banners displayed on notice boards in the Church and street corners announcing to the world the death of those dear to us and even close relatives. To cap it up, the pictures of the dead are matched with text or message of the over kill cliché, ‘gone too soon,’ aside from the accolades and beautifully crafted epitaph printed on the poster. Then this catchy but dull title, often raised at the top left corner or centre of the poster, handbill, programme brochure, or you name it, ‘Funeral obsequies’ disgustingly spoils the show.
The plural noun, ‘obsequies,’pronounced ‘ob-si-kwiz,’ to state it plainly, is the same thing as ‘funeral,’ a ceremony in which a dead person is buried or cremated, depending on the culture and burial rites of the people. Be reminded that when you speak or write ‘funeral obsequies’ you are simply repeating the same thing, or you are at fault, helping to poison the minds of the not too educated and impressionable ones. Or, would you also say that it is the copy writers’ gimmicks, in the world of advertising in the bid to sell the clients’ products or services, who indulge in piling up adjectives, most times sounding tautologous just as we have it in ‘funeral obsequies’? Not so in the plain English. One should write to inform, educate and entertain his or her target audience using the standard and functional English. In Standard English there is no room for tautology.
So, the next time you speak or write about burials choose ‘funeral rites’ or simply stay with ‘obsequies’ in announcing the burial activities of the one you love or that relative you will sorely miss who is on transition to face judgement. Let’s rewind a bit. The statement, ‘rub minds’ is still making the rounds, even though it has since been done with and thrown into the trash can. It has lost its bite and ran full circle. Correctly write or speak ‘meet minds’ when telling someone about engaging people of like-minds to discuss issues of interest to the community. We meet minds, not rub minds to solve problems that could unsettle the relative peace we as a people are now enjoying. The expression, ‘rub minds,’ according to the English masters and purists, is stale and no longer fashionable. Instead, go for ‘meet minds’ which is current and most acceptable in today’s English.