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Mind Your Language

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Mind your language

Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

“The English have no respect for their language.” – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

I used to think there was no ethnicity in Britian until I found out that Mr. Shaw was Irish and read about the first James Bond on screen, Sean Connery (1930-2020) angrily responding, “I am not an Englishman, I was never an Englishman, and I don’t want to be one. I am a Scotsman. I was a Scotsman and I will always be one.”

While the singer/bassist simply known as Sting formerly of the band, Police croons;

“I don’t drink coffee, I take tea, my dear/I like my toast done on one side/And you can hear it in my accent when I talk……Oh, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien/I’m an Englishman in New York…”, Cecil Rhodes reminds his compatriots, “Remember that you are Englishmen and have consequently won the first prize in the lottery of life.”

Is George Bernard Shaw right or was he just being tribalistic?

One thing is obvious though, the English do not always mean what they say and often say what they don’t mean – sarcastically polite. As they say, “Even when an Englishman gets run down by a truck he apologizes to the truck.”

But don’t forget George Bernard Shaw adds, “The Englishman does everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles.”

Beware, when the English address you as, “Sir” or “Mister” and if you are a woman you are called “Lady” – you are in the clear.

So, carefully evaluate your response whenever the English say to you as follows:

1. “It is a shame….” – Means, they are expressing genuine regret or concern. But when they say, “Sorry” they mean, I am being polite.

2. “That is a brave proposal or effort” – When the English say that they mean, your proposal is stupid or your effort is idiotic.

3. “With the greatest respect” – This does not mean he/she respects you or respects what you have said or even what you are going to say. They mean, just shut up.

4. “I hear what you say……” – This means, I disagree with what you said and the discussion is over.

5. “I’ll bear it in mind…..” – This simply means, it will not be considered.

6. “I’m sure it is my fault…..” – Means, it is certainly your fault.

7. “You must come for dinner…..” – This is not a prospective invitation for dinner. It actually means, I will never invite you for dinner.

8. “I almost agree…..” – Actually means, I completely disagree.

9. “I only have a few comments…..” – This means your proposal, presentation or work done is messy and must be redone.

10. “Not to worry or Don’t worry…” – The English are simply telling you to worry very much.

11. “It’s fine….” – This simply means, it is not fine.

12. When you ask the English by way of greeting, “How do you do?” And they answer, “Not too bad, actually….” – They mean they are in an excellent state feeling fantastic.

13. “It doesn’t matter….” – Means, it really matters.

14. “That’s one way at looking at it…..”  – Means, you are looking at it wrongly.

15. “I might join you later….” : When the English say that they simply mean, get out of here I am not joining you.

16. “Perfect….” – This actually means imperfect to the English.

17. “This is very interesting” – This means, this is clearly nonsense.

18. “By the way…” – When the English say that they mean, the primary purpose.

19. “Quite good…” – Means, a bit disappointing.

20. “Could we try some other options…” – Means, your option sucks.

I recall back in the day, Nigerian tailors prided themselves as not only being, “London trained” but “Experts in English wear”. To date, there are household sanitary appliances classified as, “England” in plumbing parlance. All that as far as Fela Kuti is concerned is “Colo-mentality”

The English might have their issues but for me, there is no game like Cricket, there is no novelist like Agatha Christie and there is no tea like English tea.

Also, there is no Englishman in Nigeria like the Benin lawyer and onetime House Member, Patrick Obahiagbon who minded his language like his tailoring.

I recall his comments after the unfortunate Lagos-bound Dana Air flight 0992 crash back in 2012;

“We must halt this ludicrously lugubrious kakistocracy. We must demur against demuren, no onomotopoeie extrapolation intended. The quotidian stentorian atribilousululation is abyssopelagic. This country is on the precipice of apocalyptic crepscule.”

Enjoy your weekend, my friends.

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