Sunday, 6 June 2010

Nigeria: English cock-up at Babcock University


Giving honour
It is commendable that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu [1] has returned a free man to Nigeria, restored to all the honours and accolades he deserves and is being conferred [2] with an Honorary Doctorate in Law degree by Babcock University.
As the news bulletin states, A letter by the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Makinde, said the award was in recognition of Ribadu’s "loyal breeding," "lofty aim" and "resolute courage" as well as his "fierce stance against corruption"
The Aha moment
I had always wondered about the seemingly foreign name of the university sited in Ilishan just about 10 kilometres from my village Ijesha-Ijebu in Ogun State. Ilishan is maybe about 10 kilometres from Ikenne the hometown of long dead famous Nigerian luminaries as Dr. Tai Solarin and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
In any case, I decided to find out more about the university and first went for the Wikipedia entry [3] before going to its website. Apparently, Babcock University is a Christian university under the auspices of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church [4] and named for an American missionary, David C. Babcock, who pioneered Seventh-Day Adventism in Nigeria in 1914.
On visiting their homepage, I was regaled with music; I could not find the button to stop but decided to have a curious surf as one does when seeking trivia about organisations.
Unforgiveable errors
This blog was inspired by an unfortunate lack of attention to particular detail that one would expect a university with an intake of thousands of students aspiring to careers in Education, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences and Technology.
What is the point of an education that has no academic rigour and in this case the matter of proofreading when it comes to published material is of the essence or that institution, no matter its aims or goals has no business in the delivery of tertiary education.
It is bad enough that the letter supposedly penned by the Vice-Chancellor or his office did not realise that “lofty aim” would have better been “lofty aims”, but the sacrilege to education which meets my unforgivable stare is that where the core beliefs of that noble citadel of learning has unlearnt itself with the title Our Believe [5]. That represents the core values of the university by which it gains the authority to stand as a Christian institution of higher learning.
Good grammar is a sign of distinction
Regardless of the version of English we portend to use, the correct usage should be one of, We Believe, Our Belief or Our Beliefs – the third option being the most correct in context. The nuances of 1st person plural with verbs or the role adjectives in modifying nouns which is attributive in this case should be a core part of the either the Department Of Languages And Literary Studies or English Studies - B.A. (Hons) courses.

Babcock University statement of beliefs

The offending title captured as a graphic on the Babcock University website on the 6th of June 2010 © Babcock University
The issue here is not just of being able to communicate but by reason of being a university the facetiousness of correctness and the pedantry that it entails must not be a labour to be handled with levity.
At worst, a proofreading committee or society must be formed consisting of staff and capable students to ensure that all that is globally available on the Babcock University website is reviewed and edited for syntax, semantics, context, content, correct usage, grammar and spelling.
If a university cannot commit itself to this standard of perfection, I wonder what other institution should, the online newspapers are a disaster.
Now, I am no English major, but it is my mother-tongue by reason of birth nor do I consider my copy error-free, but I am no university entrusted with the impressionable minds of hungry-for-knowledge students who can be short-changed with sloppy standards and poor attention to detail – I hope my next visit to the Babcock University website would impress for a recant of this blog.
Sources

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