I have read several of his columns under the title of “The Language Agenda” and found them, generally, to be quite instructive for Ghanaians resident at home who wish to master English Grammar; so I was a bit puzzled when I came across one of Dr. Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo’s columns captioned “Verbosity from Power House,” which sought to rather cavalierly impugn the rhetorical or dictional rectitude of a press release signed by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s Chief-of-Staff, Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare.
I was a bit puzzled because Dr. Azindoo, who describes himself as a Lecturer at the Accra, Ghana, Campus of the Germany-based University of Applied Management, did not seem to have any meat to his argument that the introductory paragraph of the press “temporarily suspending” all government officials from unnecessary travels abroad was verbose or tautological. The following was the title given the travel ban by the concerned operative of Jubilee House: “Temporary Ban on Foreign Travels by All Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MMDCEs And Heads of Government Agencies.” The press release itself was dated June 21, 2018.
The paragraph with which the critic took exception ran as follows: “The President of the Republic has directed that all foreign travels by Hon. Ministers, MMDCEs and Heads of Government Agencies be temporarily suspended with immediate effect. Guidelines in respect of future foreign travels aimed at minimizing [the] disruption to[sic] Government’s domestic work will be communicated to you shortly.” Of course, as it is to be expected of this form of written Ghanaian official communication or rhetoric, there are quite a few errors. However, the phraseology of “temporarily suspended” is not among these errors.
Yes, there is a sense in which the adjective “suspended,” from the verb “suspend,” may be clearly seen to imply “temporality.” But the fact of the matter is that many a native speaker or scholar of the English Language and English Grammar would not automatically translate “suspension” or “suspend” as necessarily a temporary order. It must be clearly qualified. For instance, there is such thing as “indefinitely suspended” or “indefinite suspension,” so it is incorrect for Dr. Azindoo to presume the abject lack of language economy on the part of the Akufo-Addo Presidential Chief-of-Staff.
Personally, I would have edited out or deleted the comma after “that” in the very first line of the first paragraph. As well, the subordinate clause of the penultimate line of the first paragraph, which reads: “aimed at minimizing disruption of Government’s domestic work,” would have been clearly defined or set apart by commas before and after. And then the preposition “to,” as in “disruption to Government’s domestic work,” would have been changed to “of.” And then the adverb “however” in the first line of the second paragraph would have been both preceded and followed by commas.
That is about all the revisions that I would have made to this rather poetically or creatively terse but decidedly poignant memo-cum-press release. And, oh, for purposes of the felicity of parallel sentence construction, I would have altered the second-person pronoun “you” of the phrase “will be communicated to you shortly” – in the last line of the first paragraph to: “will be communicated to all officials concerned shortly,” thus making the latter conform with the formal style of the rest of the paragraph.
My hunch is that it must have been one of those proverbial dog days of summer, when the quite prolific Dr. Azindoo seems to have run short of any meaningful grist or subject for a column that badly needed to be composed and published.
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