Adjoining, Adjourning, Breadth and Faith

Sun Nov 13th, 2022 -

Sample 1: “He also said the government is not competent to try him, citing the case involving the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, whom the government arrested and charged with treasonable felony in 2019 and till now has not been concluded because the government kept adjoining the case…So the government has been adjoining the case…” (What the FG should do with Nnamdi Kanu—Falana, Opera News, 14 October, 2022)

The word adjoining, which occurs twice as follows, is a malapropism: “the government kept adjoining the case”; “the government has been adjoining the case.” The writer seems confused as to the identities of the words: adjoin and adjourn. Actually, the word required in the context under consideration is adjourning and not adjoining.These are certainly two different words fused in the writer’s mind as a result of a weakness basically at the level of pronunciation. Discomfitted by the slight similarities in spelling and pronunciation, the writer lost his balance such that his sense of appropriateness is undermined.

The word adjourn usually collocates with meetings, court and parliamentary sessions. Please read the following sentences: 1)Tired, confused and somewhat frustrated, the chairman adjourned the meeting in the middle of a controversial discussion. 2)The meeting was adjourned as soon as the items of the agenda were exhausted. 3)In the absence of the key witnesses, the presiding judge felt obliged to adjourn the hearing. 4)The House adjourned till the end of the festive period. 5)After listening to all the witnesses, the investigation panel adjourned its sitting. 6)Sporadic shootings in the neighbourhood forced the chairman to adjourn the meeting hurriedly.

And adjoin? A thing is said to adjoin the other if it is close to it and joined to it: 1)His room got burnt together with the two adjoining rooms. 2)The riots and arson soon spread to the adjoining streets. 3)The boys who live in the house that adjoins mine are notoriously and incorrigibly noisy. 4)Since the toilet adjoins my room, it is no surprise that stench assaults my nose occasionally. 5)King Ahab of biblical fame insisted on acquiring Naboth’s vineyard because the hapless man’s piece of land adjoined the palace. 6)The two adjoiningneighbourhoods have some security challenges in common.

As noted earlier, the word adjourning should replace adjoining in the context under review.

Sample 2: “…they began to traverse the length and breath of Nigeria.” (Meet the super big boys working for Tinubu, Opera News, 6 Nov., 2022)

The word that interests us is breath. In isolation, nothing is wrong with that word. Indeed, it is a word that has its own place in the English lexicon. What questions its legitimacy in this context is the presence of the noun length. The word length goes with breadth and not with breath. The former (breadth) is about physical dimension; the latter (breath) is about respiration: taking air into the human bodily system and expelling it. The letter -d- is present in the former; it is not available in the latter.

We have drawn attention repeatedly in this place to the interaction between orthography and grammar, and especially the unpredictable character of the English spelling system. In English, a single letter is often enough to differentiate two words and the classes of the same word. That accounts for the difference between breadthand breath, on the one hand, and breathe and breath on the other.

First, we illustrate the difference betweenbreathe and breath, the former being the verb-form and the latter the noun form. Now read the following sentences: 1) When a man cannot breathe, it may be assumed that he is already in the valley of the shadow of death. 2) Tapping on the patient’s chest, the doctor asked him to breathe in and out gently three times. 3) He ran into the room, breathing heavily. 4) Is it always the case that an asthma patient cannot breathe without the help of an inhaler? 5 Vibrant and visionary, the new manager has been able to breathe a new life into the company. 6) Having left the polluted zone, we can now breathe freely.

Readers should please note the final –e in the verb breathe. Please note, in addition, that the letter –e does not feature in the –ing form of the verb: breathing. Now read the following sentences: 1) The dangerous chemical is leaking, and we may have to hold our breath for some seconds as we pass through the premises. 2) Please save your breath; I am beyond persuasion in this matter. 3) God breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living soul. 4) Decaying teeth produce bad breath. 5) He held his breath briefly and then continued his speech. 6) Difficult breath is often a symptom of unhealthy lungs.

Having noted and illustrated the difference between the verb breathe and the noun breath, it becomes important for us to also note the difference between breadth and breath, both of which are nouns.

Now the usage of the word breadth is illustrated as follows: 1) We need to take an accurate measurement of the length and breadth of the cloth. 2) The breadth of this land is slightly shorter than that of the previous one. 3) The area of an object can be got by multiplying its length by its breadth. 4) Is it always the case that the length of an object is longer than its breadth? 5) The length of the land is ok, but it would appear that the breadth has been tampered with. 6) The bed measures seven feet in length and four feet in breadth.

Sample 3: “After the governor intervened and pleaded, it is now up to the police and the court to decide their faith…”(Man who said he killed and burnt Deborah…Opera News,22 May, 2022)

I draw readers’ attention to the noun faith which occurs in the following context: “the police and the court to decide their faith”. Is it not strange to read that the police and the court are to decide a person’s faith? Either the writer or we the readers do not have a clear understanding of the word faith. This is certainly the problem of the writer and not of us the readers. Evidently, the writer cannot distinguish usefully between the words faith and fate.  The problem must have originated as a pronunciation difficulty. It becomes necessary for us, therefore, to discuss and illustrate the usage of each of those forms.

We begin with the word fate. The word fate is about destiny, inescapable situations, circumstances, experience forced on a person by a mystical power or inexplicable forces. Now read the following sentences: 1) The fate of the entire nation depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the political elite. 2) The pregnant woman’s nutritional and emotional habits will affect in a critical way the fate of the unborn baby. 3) It is unfortunately true that the fate of intelligent men is often decided by much less intelligent citizens. 4) The wrong impression is often created that students’ fate is decided by the examiners when in reality students decide their own fate by either preparing or not preparing hard for their exams. 5) The Niger Delta militants claim that the fate of the Nigerian nation depends on their oil wells. 6) People in the North Eastern Nigeria have been condemned to a brutal fate in the last six years or so, no thanks to the mindless insurgents. 7) The judge adjourned briefly before making a pronouncement on the fate of the suspects. 8) The fate of the weaker animals is decided by the mood and appetite of the lion. 9) The fate of the company depends on the outcome of the experiment being carried out by its consultants. 10) Should wives leave their fate entirely in the hands of their husbands?

Like the nouns fate and faith, the adjectives fateful and faithfulare frequently confused by many Nigerian users. An event or activity or decision is said to be fateful if it is important in a bad or terrible way. Again, read the following sentences: 1) The fateful election took place on June 12, 1993. 2) It is paradoxical that the terrorist organization was inaugurated on the fateful day of our independence. 3) Saul of Tarsus had scarcely started the fateful journey when God struck him down and gave him instructions as to his destiny and future career. 4) Rehoboam’s fateful decision to pay attention to the counsel of the young men and reject that of the ‘old men’ spelt doom for the unity of Israel as a nation. 5) Disgruntled, the army officer took the fateful decision to overthrow the democratically elected government. 6) It was that fateful shot that led to the end of our outing in the competition. 7) It was at that fateful meeting that the decision to sack him was taken. 8) That fateful journey led to the death of over twenty people. 9) On that fateful day, the wedding ceremony was proceeding normally when, suddenly, a spark occurred which resulted in a huge fire outbreak.  10) The fateful demonstration started as a peaceful protest but later became uncontrollable, resulting in the killing of five students by the police.

Faith is about strong or total belief or confidence in God, a god, a person, system, organization or thing. Please read the following sentences: 1) Abraham is called the father of faith because he trusted God for a long time without having any physical thing to show for it. 2) No one can live a sustained Christian life without strong faith in God. 3)  Peter the apostle began to sink when his faith in Christ wavered. 4) A person’s faith in God increases or reduces according to the stuff he feeds his mind and heart with. 5) Spiritual power and strength grow in proportion to a person’s faith. 6) Can people who have faith in God experience adversity? 7) The Christian and Islamic faiths have the same origin. 8) When faith in God combines with sound intellectual resources the result is usually more impactful than physical might. 9) The citizens soon lost faith in the clueless government. 10) When members lose faith in their leaders, it is difficult to persuade them otherwise. 11) The union leaders insist that the representatives of the government have not been acting in good faith. 12) This quarrel could have ended a long time ago if both parties had been acting in good faith. 13) Having lost faith in the marriage, the lady has applied for divorce. 14) The Boko Haram insurgents obviously have no faith in western education. 15) The civil war would not have broken out if the leaders had not acted in bad faith.

The word faithful is the adjective form of faith. Now read the following sentences: 1) Marriage partners are expected to be faithful to each other. 2) Faithful implementation of the provisions of the MOU is critical to the harmonious existence of the two parties. 3) This nation will be great if all of us take a decision to be faithful and loyal to it. 4) The three men were sacked because they were found to be unfaithful to the organization. 4) Would you regard that person as faithful who sells the secrets of his organization to its competitor? 5) Only faithful members of our association will be considered for assistance in their times of financial crisis. 6) The lawyer has not been faithful, and we have, in consequence, decided to dispense with his service. 7) Having noted your faithful and selfless service to this community for the past one decade, we have decided to honour you with a chieftaincy title. 8) The death of Bingo pained me so much because it has been an extremely faithful dog. 9) In spite of her irrational tendencies, her husband has remained faithful to her. 10) I am unwilling to part with this ‘faithful’ old car.

At any rate, the word fate should replace faith in the context under review.





source: Tribune