The ego-seeking writer often ignore newsroom maxim, keep it short and simple (KISS), in the choice of words but would instead engage or employ flowery language to make a statement. By this, he or she ends up boring the listening and reading audience with what is commonly referred to as big grammar. This is how some us write and sound, forgetting that we are dealing with the general audience. In other words, we are writing to appeal to the masses, be it argumentative, explanatory, interpretative or exhortative write ups. The English masters and purists say one should write to rouse interest and call to action. Engaging simple and straightforward words or expressions is the magic wand, even for the advertiser to sell his or her products and services anywhere in the word, use of short, simple sentence is ideal, if you want people to buy your idea. Long winding statements scare the customer, just as the listener or reader would be cut off from what one is saying.
We have seen cases where writers tend to impress rather than express themselves when pushing their arguments through to the end consumer. It is therefore instructive to use familiar words that the audience is used to, to create or make the desired impact. Grandiloquence, as I often point out, is an anathema that renders one’s opinion lost in the air, and even on paper. So, try as much as you can, as a writer to choose words or phrases that would carry along your target audience, which I believe is the general public. This brings us to the suggestion by the English pragmatists for the writer or journalist to indulge more on the use of one, two to three-syllable words when crafting their ideas to be understood. How would they do that? One may be tempted to ask. They should avoid compound or complex sentences. The extra baggage or attachment makes one’s work or piece clumsy, colourless and uninteresting. Go straight to the point by avoiding tags, prefixes and suffixes that are meaningless and does not add to the beauty of the story or narrative.
Now, sample these words and expressions as listed by the English masters and purists and do better, enough of those long winding statements and play safe. For example, try to avoid the phrase ‘less expensive’ and go for ‘cheap,’ or ‘affordable,’ ‘more preferable,’ substitute with ‘preferred.’ Similarly, the heavens would not fall if you kill phrases such as ‘made good their escape,’ ‘made an approach to,’ ‘one of the purposes,’ ‘prior to/preparatory to/previous to,’ for simple and short, ‘escaped, disappeared,’ ‘approached, moved on to,’ ‘one purpose,’ ‘before.’ The call here is for one to write direct and functional English. There are plenty of them. More would come in our subsequent episodes. Before we draw the curtain, please take note of this homemade English or what others call the Nigerian coinage which has gained currency over time, wrongly used though. The news is agog with the politicians cross-carpeting from one party to the other.
What we hear these days is about this governor or that governor ‘decamping’ to the ruling party-All Progressives Congress, APC. The word ‘decamping’ is incorrect in this context. It’s a misnomer. The correct usage of the phrase is ‘defecting.’ Governor A and governor B have ‘defected’ to the APC-All Progressives Congress. Don’t jump on the band wagon and chorus, as some of our journalists and reporters would do, governor A and governor B have ‘decamped’ to the All Progressives Congress. The expression, ‘decamp’ often associated with politics is rather more about someone who hurriedly or secretly leaves a place with one’s luggage or belonging, the masters and purists concurred. Again, the statement, as it applies to the use of phones, gsm, ‘oh eight oh’ is the accepted standard pronunciation, and not ‘zero eight zero.’