Regret vs apology: Linguistic lesson from election postponement


Again, anger , frustration and suspicion are rife in the country. The political terrain had always been far from sanity , but the overnight postponement of the presidential election has worsened the situation.

As a result, many people are talking and writing to purge their minds.

It is good that democracy has , at least , largely guaranteed this opportunity to express oneself – although some of us have lost the control of our emotions in the process .

Just imagine someone calling the President an idiot in a Facebook comment just because he suspects that he (President ) has a hand in the postponement saga .

That is clearly a slap on the kind of decorum expected in not only public speaking but also private communication .

The first lesson , therefore , is that you must always mind your language and be cautious whenever you are making comments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms .

Don’ t forget that even if speech somehow evaporates , writing – texting , tweeting , Instagram posting etc. – is permanent .

Retrieve back ? Return back ?
INEC officials have repeatedly given us the assurance that election materials already taken to various locations in the country are not only safe , they are also being taken back to relevant vaults .

But in the process of doing so , some of them have been courting undue repetition.

They have been hugging tautology /redundancy as if it is one beautiful lover charming them with radiant smiles.

One said they had been retrieving the materials back to INEC office while another , on Channels News at 10 on Sunday, said they had been ‘ returning’ the materials ‘ back ’ to where they should be.

Please note that retrieve and
return do not need ‘ back ’ because it is already embedded in their meanings .

As a verb ,
retrieve means ’ get or bring (something ) back from somewhere ’ while return means
come or go back to a place or person ; or give , put , or send ( something ) back to a place or person :
They are planning to retrieve the videos back from the library . (Wrong )
They are planning to retrieve the videos from the library. (Correct )
Ensure you return the diary back to Yahaya .

(Wrong )
Ensure you return the diary to Yahaya .

(Correct )
Loose election or lose election?
Imagine someone saying the ruling party orchestrated the shift in the election date because it is afraid it is going to loose .

Loose ? No.

The correct spelling there is lose, being the present tense form of lost , with
losing being the continuous tense. On the other hand, loose , as an adjective, means not tight or not tightly in place .

As a verb, it could mean set free or release .

But it surely doesn’ t mean not having something again or something getting stolen as the concerned people in question meant:
The APC planned the postponement because it feared it would loose the election .

( Wrong)
The APC planned the postponement because it feared it would lose the election . ( Correct)
Your hair is lose. Why ? (Wrong )
Your hair is loose .

Why ? ( Correct)
Postponement or prosponement?
In the last few days, my ears have also been paying host to a linguistic taboo I thought was no more in existence : pronouncing – and consequently spelling –
postponement as prosponement. I remember that when some of us were younger , we used to say prospone , when we meant
postpone.

It was the same age that penarity flourished instead of penalty. Now, the fever greeting the shift in the election date has provoked
prosponement in some quarters.

Please note that, in spelling and pronunciation, there is no English word like prosponement . The correct word is
postponement .

He felt terribly bad when he learnt that the election has been prosponed .

(Wrong )
He felt terribly bad when he learnt that the election has been postponed .

(Correct )
We are the electorate – not electorates
Many dignitaries have also been imploring the electorates to remain calm and resolute .

There is an error in this because all the voters in Nigeria are the electorate, not electorates.

Like other collective nouns that include
elite , electorate is not pluralised; it does not take an s ’ unless you bring together all the different elites – social , religion , political , economic , cultural and intellectual .

The ( Nigerian ) electorates are not happy with INEC over the postponement .

(Wrong )
The electorate are not happy with INEC over the postponement .
(
Correct )
The Nigerian elites are greedy .

(Wrong )
The Nigerian elite are greedy .

(Correct )
Missing article
Being names of associations /organisations , the like of
Peoples Democratic Party ,

All Progressives Congress , Action Alliance and African Action Congress should normally begin with article the .

And , because they are proper nouns, each of the major /content words in them should start with capital letters.

Unfortunately , a lot of people have been violating these rules in speech and writing :
Peoples Democratic Party’ s leadership is always complaining .

(Wrong )
The Peoples Democratic Party’ s leadership is always complaining .

(Correct )
John is a member of apc. (Wrong )
John is a member of the APC .

(Correct )
John is a member of the All Progressives Congress .

(Correct)
Between regret and apologise
Do regret ( any inconvenience ) and
apologise mean the same thing ? This question came up when INEC ’ s Chairman , Mahmood Yakubu , briefed stakeholders on Saturday , stating why the polls were shifted and how the commission feels about the development .

According to him , it regrets any inconvenience the postponement might have brought the people .

He noted, “As the Chairman of INEC , and on behalf of the commission , we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused. ”

Then, one or two people present noted that the electorate really needed an apology from Yakubu . Responding to this , he said it was all a matter of adjectives – although he should have said a matter of choice of verbs (not adjectives because regret and
apologise are verbs, not adjectives ) .

He could also have said it was a matter of synonyms because , in the context , the two terms are synonymous.

Remember , synonyms are words with the same or similar meanings .

Our interest in this class is not to say whether or not the INEC boss is right in noting that he had already done what is right by taking responsibility and expressing regret .

It is to stress the lesson in the language game .

Although Yakubu gave an indication that he had apologised , he did not express the apology categorically .

This may neither be an act of insensitivity or arrogance.

Rather, it may be in line with exploiting the tactical difference that experts have cited between regret and
apologise .

According to them , the words have similar, if not the same meanings , but one can be weightier and more categorical than the other .

That is apologise . When you regret an action , you express sadness over it .

Emotionally , you feel for the victim .

But it does not necessarily mean you apologise , because the latter connotes guilt and readiness to accept responsibility or even legal liability for it .

The ‘ Oxford English Dictionary’ establishes the meanings of both words thus:
REGRET: VERB
[WITH OBJECT]
1 .

Feel sad , repentant , or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do )
She immediately regretted her words
with clause I always regretted that I never trained
2 . Used in polite formulas to express apology for or sadness over something undesirable .

Any inconvenience to readers is regretted with clause We regret that no tickets may be exchanged
APOLOGY: VERB
[NO OBJECT ] something that one has done wrong.

I must apologise for disturbing you like this
We apologise to him for our error
In conclusion , when you want to regret doing or not doing something , go ahead and do so .

When you are sure you want to apologise , go ahead and do so .

But be clear in your mind which exactly you intend to do at that moment and anticipate the reaction it may generate.

Answers to last week’ s assignment
1 .

The more the police … to reduce crime rate in the country ,
the more the hoodlums engineer more violence .

(a ) TRY (b) tries ( d) tried (d) trying
2 . Neither of the two policemen … ready to help us .

(a ) were ( b) are (c ) IS (d) could
3 . My friend wants rice but I have … amala and ewedu .

(a ) ORDERED ( b) orders ( c ) ordering (d) ordered for
Those who got all the answers right
Anthony Edoh, Benjamin Oyeleke, Blessing Aghojare , Slami Abosede , Alabi Sukurat , Alara Kabiru, Olorunsola Abayomi , Mozzhann Seun , Ikechukwu Gabriel , Eniola Soname , Adewuyi Faith , Tunde Egbedokun , Olamide Soname , Olanrewaju Soname , Oluseyi Aluko , Tunde Egbedokun , Ndidi Ihekwoaba , Akin Gandonu , Olarenwaju Bukola , Chinwenmeri Enyinnaya , Oludare Olufade , Nseobong Brown , Roland Pandonu , Adekunle Jaleel , Mikairu G. Y , Khaleed Tijani , Oladimeji Sunday, Olutomilola O . O , Abednego Warikebi, Adeola Adedire , Uthman Kayode , Latinwo Ademola, Egberongbe Bashir , Olaide Owomoyela , Oyem Augustine, Obadina Ajayi , Charles Ekereke, Mayowa Olubiyi , Ifeanyichukwu Ibekwe , Kolawole Kareem , Bola Hodonu, Ogunremi Yusuf , Aisha Salimon , Rotimi Jaiyeoba , Moshood Afolabi , Olugbenga Adu , Ajayi Oluwaranti , Ejemasa Lucky , Japhlet B . V , Muogho Ijeoma , Muogho Kingsley and Adeyemi Eunice .

Those who also did well
Bello Hamidat , Adediran Aminat , Fiyin Olusesi , Olunye Olayinka , Aziza Alimi , Abiola Tijani , Udenze Saint, Leziga Mitee , Olanusi Samuel , Ishola Oluwatoyin , Ekemode Tola , Abedinego Iyemibragba, Tiwatope Ayomide, Zainab Opeyewa, Ibrahim Opelada , Sunday Nwogwu , Josiah Abu , Olawale Ayodeji , Esther Padonu, Idowu Akin , Elijah Johnson , Femi Soyoye , Akinboye Robiat , Okeke Esther , Ibunkun Emmanuel , Hildru Zainab, Oluwanifemi Kafaru , Gabriel Opute, Michael Abimbolu , Lawal Akeem , Halimat Awonuga, Dickson Ogala , Olanrewaju Benjamin , Hussainat Dawuda , Emmanuel Oni , George Kubwa, Chris Thompson, E. C Porbeni , Aiyowieren Reign , Daramola Oloniruha , Adeleke Taiwo , Adegoke Tiwalola , Ehi Emhonyon , Egboja Daniel , Onuh Sardauna, Olufemi Oluniyi, Oladokun Oluranti , Muoka Johnny , Iyabo Ijagbemi , Toyin Oyewoga , Tijani Amidu, Pius Uduhirinwa , Foluke Ogunsanya, Abdwakil Ashafa , Raheem Jimoh , Oshin Ayobami and Lanre Sowunmi .

Homework
1 . Has the accountant … to office?
( a ) returns ( b) been returning back (c ) returned (d)
returned back
2 . “Those … irons are dangerous, ” she said .

(a ) losing (b) loose (c ) lose (d) losed
3 . The officer was still attending to … when the thugs
arrived .
(a ) voter ( b) electorate (c ) a voter (d) an electorate

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