It has become the norm to hear people speak or write, what I call the Nigerian coinage or invented phrase not found in the English lexicon of current English, ‘invitees’ when one mean, to quote the exact interpretation of Chambers 21st century dictionary, ‘request the presence of someone at one’s house, at a party, etc.’ Strange as it sound and alien to the Standard English, yet the media, the electronic and print media appears to condone it. Severally, I have heard it on radio and television, and even read it on the pages of some of the popular tabloids, the statement, incorrectly used though, ‘invitees.’ The gatekeeper, the editor or the presenter who is expected to blackout or replace such an un-English word with a more functional one looks the other way while the garbage in, garbage out, continues to the surprise and pain of the masters and purists of the language.
Get it right straight away, it would be wrong and a disservice to the teeming readers and listeners who depend largely on the media not only to follow events and occurrences as they break in the local or international scene but also to make informed decisions, to be fed with what the language pragmatists called a piece of illiteracy in the wrong choice of word. It is either one stick to the correct English to address his or her target audience or better still water it down, and preferably, involve the Pidgin English in the conversation. Again, our vernacular or regional dialects come handy when we want to get to the grassroots, make them to understand and follow government activities and their responsibilities to the state. Newspapers and radio stations, especially community newspapers and radios have been set up for this purpose.
The Standard English, as I repeatedly write, just as the language experts also insist, cannot be compromised under the guise of freedom or liberty to choose or invent words arbitrarily without recourse to lay down rules or procedures. We wait on the masters to direct us. The language, as we all know is not cast in gold or remains static. Rather changes are bound to take place from time to time. All that is required of us is to wait on the language experts to show us the way and then we follow, not to take it upon ourselves who are learners or who English is second language to dictate the pace, we will certainly fail. Note that the language is full of blind spots and pitfalls therefore one need to be guided to avoid making silly mistakes that could possibly make a mockery of one’s self
. And so, when next you put pen on paper, desist from chorusing the infamous ‘invitees’ phrase that is unfortunately making the rounds even as I write. The correct and Standard English, when it becomes necessary for you to host friends or colleagues to a party, house warming, baby presentation in the Church, they are your ‘invited guests’ and not ‘invitees,’ as many would erroneously write or speak. One can correctly speak, for instance, “All the invited guests arrived early for the ceremony.” Or, “Invited guests are expected to be seated before the arrival of the chief celebrant.” It sounds odd and un-English to speak or write, for example, “All the invitees arrived early for the ceremony.”
Or, “Invitees are expected to be seated before the arrival of the chief celebrant.” Yet, others simply stop at the verb ‘invite’ to denote ‘invited guests.’ It is wrong. ‘Invite,’ according to the Oxford dictionary of current English, is to ask someone in a friendly or formal way to go somewhere or do something. It can never take the place of ‘invited guests.’ It would amount to a dysfunctional expression for one to write or verbalise “I am expecting my invite to come to the party.” Another home grown phraseology, you will agree with me