The controversy has become too topical, and even discussed severally by the learned and not too-learned persons, that we can’t ignore it any more. To put the record straight, telephone numbers with the ‘oh’ (not zero) as some would pronounce it, in between, is the Nigerian coinage or another of the many home grown English. It has been established sacrosanct, that the arguments whether the telephone numbers should be ‘zero eight zero’ ought not to even arise because the correct usage, stamped, sealed, and delivered is ‘oh eight oh…’ reliable reference books say so.
This is another case of misrepresentation or abuse of the language to speak or write ‘zero eight zero’ as it concerns telephone numbers. Today, when friends or acquaintRadio Nigeria, and how it has held on tenaciously to the British English. Both in spoken and written language, I admire even the parent body, Radio Nigeria for keeping faith with the Standard English. No watering down, as some stations does. It is remarkably different from what we get elsewhere.
And that is the standard, we must all adhere to. ances want to exchange telephone numbers, what do you hear? It is the over dramatized, and irrelevant phrase, ‘zero eight zero’. They recycle it with careless abandon and make it look like the normal. But on the one hand it amounts to the abuse of the Standard English as handed down to us by the purists and masters.
I try as much as possible to correct this abuse whenever I am presented with the opportunity of doing so. To no avail I have laboured, as the majority of people insist on staying with the expression, wrongly used though, ‘eight zero eight’. They remain adamant and continue to swim in their ignorance.
Just recently, I tuned to one of my favourite radio stations in Lagos, Metro 97. 3 FM, Nigeria’s foremost urban station that operates like an independent outfit despite the fact that it is tied to the federally-controlled Back to our discussion, only recently, one of the avid listeners noted on Metro 97.7 FM, and wondered why the station won’t stop using the phrase, ‘oh eight oh,’ believing that the correct usage is ‘zero eight zero’.
Quoting him, he asked, during a morning programme, why is your station different from others, and to paraphrase, from using what he considered to be the standard, ‘zero eight zero’ statement bandied about by these stations, be it radio or television. All thanks to the smart presenter, who promptly told him, ‘oh eight oh’ is the Standard English as taught by the British, who colonized Nigeria.
That language legacy left behind, whether we like it or not, has proved to be a unifying factor for the country, with multiplicity of regional and local dialects, counting up to over 200, some records put it. My dear friends, and readers of this column, note that the phrase that cannot be found in any reference book or the dictionary, ‘zero eight zero,’ is a misnomer that should be frowned at or jettisoned in its entirety.
One can correctly speak, without contradiction, ‘oh eight oh’ as the standard and accepted English when it occurs to one to engage it in day-today conversation. Shun the commonly overused phrase ‘declared redundant’, but rather prefers the smarter and current usage ‘sacked,’ ‘retired’. This also applies to ‘conflagration.’ Use the simple, direct phrase, ‘fire’, to make your message clearer, and to be easily understood.
That way, you are communicating to a larger audience, not a narrow audience. You can as well drop the expression, ‘expedite’ and go for something everyone can understand and easily digest, ‘hasten/hurry, speed-up’, or ‘act’. You can also be reminded that, expressions, such as ‘filled to capacity,’ can also be accepted as ‘full,’ without wasting precious time, or space one could have used for something else.
The statement, ‘from Ayodele’s point of view’, can be simplified to read, ‘to Ayodele,’ without missing anything. T he rule of engagement as a mass communicator is to keep it short and simple.