Some Nigerian Media English Expressions That Are Not So Cool


Language is all about communication and communication is about understanding. In the course of speaking with/to someone in a particular language, if s/he doesn’t understand, then you have not communicated properly. Majority of Nigerians know how to communicate best in the local dialects, so that when it comes to expressing themselves in English language, it becomes quite a hard hurdle to jump. Pidgin has made things even more complicated as Nigerians tend to blend the knowledge of three languages – their dialects, English and pidgin together to derive the Nigerian English language.

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Giving the benefit of the doubt to victims of this circumstances, English is not our mother tongue. On the other hand, whatever language we choose to speak at any point in time should be spoken well, just the way owners of the language speak it – it doesn’t have to be garnished with an accent, but it should follow certain rules in the lexis and structure of English language. The media are the ones in the fore front as they constantly bombard the country with expressions that are not just grammatically incorrect but are out of this world. Here are a few of the most spoken media expressions that will certainly put you off, if you are conversant with Queens English.

1.“Names Withheld”

Media professionalism entails passing out information with facts and date including people involved in the news. It is not acceptable for journalists to conceal the identity of the subjects because that will only create assumptions due to the ambiguous information given. For instance, “Two South-East governors in Nigeria, [names withheld] have been probed by EFCC for embezzling the sum of N69 billion during the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan.”

Any reader would conclude that the names were withheld for some reasons, Newscasters do not have to add the phrase “names withheld”. Except in cases where the withheld names has to do with the security of the persons involved. If everyone knows who it happened to, it might affect the person’s social standing. In most cases, these names are withdrawn so as not to implicate the reader/writer or the media firm dishing out the news.

2.“Electioneering Campaign”

During preparations prior to the last concluded election, the media made their shine with this phrase. The sad news is that “Electioneering” and “political campaign” mean the same thing, so it is tautology to use both of them side by side when one can pass the implied message perfectly.

3.“Our Story is True in Every Material Particular”

The phrase “in every material particular” is an archaic phrase. It is no longer in use and should be scraped out of the media and replaced with something modern and more appropriate.


“Yesteryears” is not an existing English word, but an old-fashioned word which was sometimes used for literary effects. Even at that, it should remain in its singular form “yesteryear” as the “s” only makes it worse than a common blunder. It is just like adding “s” to the word “slang,” it is not correct but of course most Nigerians and even the media use it without blinking twice. If you are talking about slang in the plural form, then it is more honorable to say “slang expressions.”

5.“A Free-For-All Fight”

This is another tautology and probably arises as a consequence of not understanding the part of speech of “free-for-all”. It is a noun, not an adjective, and cannot modify another noun. It describes a noisy fight in a crowd. So it is sufficient to simply write that there was a free-for-all without adding “fight.”

6.“Not Unconnected With”

This expression is not grammatically wrong but is hopelessly confusing and might sound wrong in the first instance, hackneyed and pretentious. It must have been adapted from George Orwell’s lines: “A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field. Why not just say “Connected with,” instead of the elongating the sentence.


7.“Remains Deposited At The Mortuary”

This is almost the standard expression in Nigerian media English to say that a dead body is at the mortuary. There are two problems with this expression. First, the word “remains” is too formal for a news story. “Corpse” and “dead body” are the more usual words. And “deposit” is a singularly quaint verb to associate with death, especially in popular usage. The first two meanings that come to mind with regards to the word “deposit,” are putting money in a bank and fixing/implanting or forcing something to stay put. It is not the most appropriate phrase to use in this context and can be replaced.

8. “Hear Him,” or “In his Words”

Generally, it is the norm for journalists to quote a source in their articles or news presentations, by saying or writing “s/he said” at the end of a sentence. But in Nigeria, in a bit to be different, they murder this concept by making up ugly phrases like “Hear Him or In his words” We don’t literally “hear” people in print; we read them. And to write “in his words” while at the same time inserting quotation marks to those words makes it redundant.

9. In a Related Development

This phrase is grammatically correct but the usage is not. The word “development” is generally a positive word that can not be used to explain something negative.

10.“As At The Time of Filing This Report”

This phrase would have been perfect if not for a slight error. The right thing to say is “As Of,” not “As At.” We are aware that understanding the right combination of words is difficult but then, we should endeavor to speak it right.

11. They Were Involved In a Ghastly Motor Accident But They Are Fine

In as much as the word “fine” can mean “OK,” its first meaning is “beautiful,” and does not go down well in this sentence. A correct expression would be “they survived a ghastly motor accident and sustained no injuries.”

12. “Men of the Underworld

This is not a current expression and it is way past cliché. What world is under and which men reside there if I may ask? It is ok to state the men for who they are – criminals, gays, robbers, politicians or herbal doctors. That way it is more specific and would not raise unnecessary wild guesses on the reader or listener’s end.

Nigerian Media presenters have no excuse as to why they often murder English language. Whatever language is worth speaking is worth speaking well.