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Sunday, July 30, 2017

The #English language is a bully - #Writing #Education




This morning I have learned about how badly we as Ugandans write.  One of my best friends sent me screen shots of TV stations he was watching and I missed something.  I jumped straight into telling him how those people were unqualified to talk about the topics.  He did not argue back but instead told me "check the spelling".  I am attaching the screen shots now.  AND these are the big media houses in Uganda.
So all the complaining to my friends, fans and followers about writing properly was not justified.  Media houses are bastardizing English on a daily basis so why should Ugandans not do it too?  Last week we had the country's biggest government funded media house put a headline of pubic instead of public but thank heaven they immediately corrected it. I am in 5 WhatsApp groups:
Uganda News Briefing
Global News Briefing
Business News Briefing
Soccer Chat 256
Xenophobia
In all groups, you must write proper English or you get kicked out.  The same rule applies to anyone who comments on what I share on Facebook or inboxes me.  Things like "hr r u" will get you blocked promptly because if you are too lazy to write full words, I am too busy to respond to you.
Some Ugandans have accused me of insisting on English just because I am a Canadian.  This is wrong.  All my English and French was learned in Uganda.  My punishment for screwing up English was always a missed meal.  Neither my parents nor my siblings could allow me to speak or write bad English.
Along that habit of writing properly, my siblings and I had to read the national news paper daily.  Mzee ensured it by always taking out the cartoon section and the cross word puzzle.  After we read the paper, we had to summarise for him the news of the day.  Then he would give us the crossword puzzle.  When we were done, he would then give us the comic section.  My brothers James and Richard loved Batman but had to read and do the crossword puzzle before getting their comics.  I loved Ekanya and also only got it after reading and doing the crossword puzzle.
What is going on in Uganda now is nothing short of a catastrophe.  Major media houses are printing bastardized English and it has become so normal that when one says "its when we arrived and I was told that your late is when I saw that the husband had killed her wife".  In this case, is it any wonder then that the other day a minister was crying saying "you will loose all your investment"?
Uganda media has a very big role to play in educating and informing the public.  We must take this role very seriously and stop printing news with broken English.
The English language is a bully.  It will harass you to grab your lunch, punch you in the face for bad conjugation then beat the crap out of you and steal your pocket money for not knowing idioms which you might never have heard of  (Rebecca told me that).  So in essence, when we who are relied on for information take the lazy route of writing badly, our readers will also then write badly.  You will all remember that most Ugandans do not have access to libraries to borrow free books.  Neither do they have free Internet.  Consequently, what most of the population is consuming is from social media.  In this case, then even what we share on social media should be in proper writing to encourage good writing.
Did you know that in 2015 Uganda lost out on sh. 257 billion in grants for Climate Change?  The excuse for all the rejected projects was "they were so badly written it was hard to determine what project they really intended for the money they were asking for".  This story was in Uganda media and I shared it on the nangalama blog.  Recently, President Yoweri Museveni turned down many loan applications.  He said they made no sense.  I hardly ever agree with Museveni but on those loans, I agreed with him fully because when I read what people were asking money for, they made no sense.  Frivolous things.  At one point in time, we need sanity.  Please write.  AND you will remember that "Poor reading habits are the enemy of civilization".
Reading helps one to form sentence structures which are worth reading.  Reading helps to think and analyse.  Reading helps to write better.  We need more readers.  Once we read a lot, we shall write better and then one can write a letter to Ambassador Deborah Malac as SPAN did yesterday or even dare to write to PM Justin Trudeau or President Emmanuel Macron like Martha (yours truly) did yesterday.  If you cannot write, you can go demonstrate all you want but the average policy maker relies on information written properly in order to make a decision or influence a decision.  So if you are writing badly, goodluck with your life.  AND remember that if you do not read or write well, you can kiss your next job goodbye because it means you will not be good at following basic instructions.
Martha Leah Nangalama

Passionate about Education.

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