Please Pardon My English: I Was Born Blind Since Infancy
Recently, my cousin gave birth to a new-born baby. I am supposed to be a godfather. What an honour! Everything is fine with the baby, except that the invitation card for his outdooring read like my opening sentence: Peggy has given birth to a new born baby boy. Initially, I didn’t notice the redundancy until my wife asked: Are there babies that are born as old people? Every birth is necessarily new. I attended the ceremony all the same. There, I discovered the most interesting MC of all time. He goofed through the opening prayer, pausing needlessly and making an abrupt stop at a point. Then, when we thought he had ended, he said: “sorry God, for the mistake” and he started all over again. The dedication itself was real fun. The self styled minister cum family head started every sentence with ‘mostly:’ “Mostly, when God gives us children, we mostly do not take care of them properly. Mostly it is the fault of the parents. Children are mostly gifts from God.” Attendees started laughing loquaciously. It was even so much fun when the guests realised that the minister himself was mostly aware of his misuse of the word ‘mostly’. Fortunately, he didn’t repeat the word in the closing prayer. Even then, as the guests were leaving the event grounds, you could hear people teasing: “See you mostly next week”. The minister reminded me of a budding musician in Ghana who started every sentence with ‘actually.’ He had been born blind, and had started singing at a very young age. An interviewer asked when he realised that he could sing. His answer was interesting: “Actually I was born blind since infancy. Actually I started singing when I was born.” The journalist did well not to have betrayed anything stupid. He carried on nicely, unlike the other one who couldn’t hold himself together at the sight of the late Dan Lartey at the electoral commission. The young journalist, it was reported, burst out laughing until he fell, whereupon he released a cacophonous fart from in between his legs. A friend who worked as an administrative staff at my university in London used to sign off in her emails to me as: Profoundly yours. She was pregnant, so I wasn’t exactly sure whether she was offering herself or the unborn baby. Well, we had dated briefly before she married. Then, one day I asked her the meaning of the profound offer and she replied that I have used the word ‘profound’ at least a 300 times since we became friends. Our friendship was not quite three months old. On her part, she says becos instead of because. She prided herself on her Achimotan beginnings, so I decided to find out the phonetically correct pronunciation of the word. Well, it is not wrong to say becos, but why try to be as inconsiderate as the wife of a thief? If we are all used to because, then let it be. Well, we have more than a compelling reason to pardon people’s slips and ‘addict words’, even if they say transcrift for transcript. We know what they mean. Even the CNN, with an army of copytasters and subeditors, gets it wrong sometimes. The other day, they wrote during a primetime newscast: “Obama under seige”. The goof remained on the screen for a long time. I wanted to pick up a phone and ask them why they were trying to put us under a grammatical siege with the unpardonable misspelling. I resisted the temptation because mostly we all make mistakes. Actually, the person who hasn’t made a mistake in life has not tried anything before, including Einstein himself.
Source: Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin writes from Ottawa, Canada. He is a journalist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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