COMMONLY MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS, PHRASES & TENSES, EDITION 6:
1) A DEAD PERSON CANNOT BE DISCUSSED IN PRESENT TENSE, MEEEEEEN!!!
2) NBB INFOTAINMENT: “SEX MACHINE” BY JAMES BROWN
Authored By Harry Agina
I was in a conversation yesterday with a Nigerian dude. We were discussing his LATE mama, and he said, “My mom IS a very wonderful woman.” I didn’t see this statement as a big deal, at least not yet. We all have slip-of-tongue in English grammar from time to time. When this happens, some of us catch the slip and quickly correct it, and some do not catch the error, but you can tell that it was a slip when their next similar statement is done correctly. So, I said to myself…self, this well-educated dude definitely had a slip. But, I was wrong, meeeeeeeeen!!!
The dude continued in the same line of addressing his dead mama as though the woman was still alive. “She IS a woman of integrity,” he continued, “and she IS not tired of helping other people when…”
“Bros, wait just a minute,” I interrupted, cutting his sentence short. “I thought you just said that your mama is late?”
“Sure, she is,” he responded, a little baffled, obviously wondering why I asked.
“So, how come you are describing her as if she is still around?” I queried. “The woman is dead, and she CAN’T be doing all these things that you say she DOES…the dead don’t HAVE integrity anymore, they did; and they CAN’T help others as you are saying about your mama now. She DID, and now she is gone, never to help anybody anymore, meeeeeeeeen!!!”
Folks, many of the grammatical errors that I have addressed in my series on “COMMONLY MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS, PHRASES, & TENSES,” are global, even among the owners of the English language themselves. But I have to say that this particular error of talking about dead people as if they are still alive is peculiar to Nigerians. And, guess what, this is not an error of the illiterate, no sir, no ma’am!!! It actually seems to be more common among the highly literate Nigerians. Indeed, the dude with whom I had the referenced conversation yesterday has a Master’s Degree in his professional discipline, meeeeeeeeen!!!
If you don’t believe me, watch or listen to obituaries, which are common on Nigerian TV and Radio stations every doggone day; or, watch funeral ceremonies on TV and Radio today or any day soon. You are most likely to hear over 70 percent of the eulogists, moderators, or other speakers (including our state governors and Ministers and other highly placed and educated politicians, many of whom have PhDs), talk about the deceased in present tenses. If not, you have won a bet, and may contact me for your bet-winning…I would pay you, meeeeeeeeen!!!
Maybe my brethren in Nigeria just don’t want to let go of their dead people, so, it confuses them to insist on talking about them and their deeds and characters in present tenses as if the dead are still alive. I insist that my people must find other ways of preserving the memories of their dead ones, and not through grammatical blunders…hahahahahahaha!!!
And then, I must talk about another fuck-up by my Nigerian folks in talking about the dead. I will start it with a no-bullshitting question, thus: Why the fuck do Nigerians glorify every dead person when they talk about them, especially in eulogies or comments at funerals, meeeeeeeeeen?!!!
Sure, “eulogy” itself means “praise.” But, do we have to present a eulogy if the dead ‘dude’ or ‘dudess’ was a motherfucking evil person, huh? I’m like…motherfucker, don’t stand there like an idiotic hypocrite and praise a person who was evil. For crying fucking loud, you do know that he/she was evil, just because you are asked to eulogize him or her, you hypocritically say all those stupid lies about how great he or she was. Tell them, no, I don’t have anything nice to say about that dead motherfucker. Compare this to my position that, if I ever wed any woman in a church, and a priest tells me to repeat that fucked-up line that Christians say during wedding ceremonies, “Till Death Do Us Part”, I would tell the priest to go to hell. I ain’t gonna stand there and lie to God that I must remain in the marriage until we are separated by death…no fucking way!!! If the marriage goes sour, I take a fucking walk, and nobody is ever gonna make me to stay in a bad marriage that is killing me, just because I made a stupid, nonsensical vow. God and Jesus Christ are not sadists, I always say, and they couldn’t possibly have anything to do with that stupid wedding vow of forcing two incompatible persons to stay together and continue to torture each other as husband and wife until they die. And, in many cases, one of the couples actually murders the other, meeeeeeeeeeen!!!
Seriously, whenever you listen to comments about a dead person in Nigeria, especially at a funeral, every fucking speaker showers the dead with all manner of saintly encomiums, most or all of which are lies. Even the worst DEVIL’S INCARNATE on earth gets glorified as an angel as soon as he or she dies…very ANNOYINGLY HYPOCRITICAL! And that’s what I call a bunch of bullshit, meeeeeeeeen!!
And, the fucked-up hypocrites are quick to admonish you that it is not right to speak badly of a dead person. Bull-fucking-shit, I always say!!! If the motherfucker was evil when he was alive, we need to shout it on rooftops at the top of our voices that he or she was evil, to shame the devil. Don’t give me that bullshit about not speaking badly about the dead; I would actually spit on his or her fucking grave if he/she was evil, and dare him/her to come back from the dead in spirit or any form and fight me, meeeeeeeeeeeen!!!
Now, back to my topic, with the conclusion. Mind you, the NBB series on “COMMONLY MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS, PHRASES, AND TENSES” does not necessarily mean that Harry Agina is a master English grammarian who never makes any errors, or without any grammatical hang-ups; no, sir, no ma’am!!! It only means that, as a Communications Specialist, I would like us all to help each other and point out some simple errors that we commonly make, especially those of us who English is not our native tongue. So, please, go right ahead and let me know what hang-ups that you may notice in my grammar…I would appreciate you. In fact, those whose native language is English, do make a lot of grammatical errors, too. Besides, we should be proud that they can’t even speak our own native languages nearly as well as we speak their English…and, I know, that you know, that I ain’t bullshitting ya, meeeeeeeeeeen!!!
NBB INFOTAINMENT: “SEX MACHINE” BY JAMES BROWN:
I wanno complement my topic above, about the dead, with vintage music of the late James Brown of the USA, popularly known as JB, with Bobby Byrd as his backing vocalist. Guess what; JB was actually discovered by Bobby Byrd, who was the founder of “The Famous Flames” vocal group. He recruited JB into the group in 1956. Before long, JB’s showmanship and other music talents overshadowed Byrd in popularity. Their first hit single was titled “Please, Please, Please”, and it sold over one million copies. In the song, James SAYS that he FEELS like a “Sex Machine.” Yeah, I know; I have made the same error that I just condemned, discussing a dead man in the present tense, with my use of SAYS and FEELS (instead of SAID and FELT); right? Wrong! When quoting a literary or any form of published work, there is the exception to use present tense…um huh!!!
Anyway, “Sex Machine” was published/recorded in 1970, long before a majority of my readers today were born, I’m almost sure. JB was the king of “Funk Soul Rhythm & Blues” of the 20th century. He was a singer, songwriter, and music arranger; not to forget, a great dancer, as you can see in this “Sex Machine” video. He was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, USA, on May 3, 1933, and he died on December 25, 2006, in Atlanta, Georgia.
And now, presenting, “Sex Machine” by James Brown and Bobby Byrd. Be sure not to miss the subtle but titillating performance of the little cute dancing lady on the platform in the background.
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