Letters & Opinion

Of ‘Dis’ and ‘Dat’ – Part 2

Image of Nahdjla Bailey
By Nahdjla Bailey

SO, why didn’t I submit a piece last weekend? Well, first of all, let me say that that is NOT a must by any means, and second, I was off-island and enjoying La Martinique with friends. In fact, I did attempt to send something over from my phone, but not being altogether à jour in that department, I was sure it wouldn’t make it across the channel. But no, my submission did arrive, more so earlier than usual, apparently making it in time for the Thursday issue – and that’s where it appeared. Therefore, my readers, what’s the moral of the story here? Simple! In addition to the weekend issue of The VOICe you’ve got to support the weekday issues on a Tuesday and Thursday. You never know what might be lurking in there!

Well, what else is new? For me, it was discovering how beautiful an island is Martinique. Had visited at least four times before, but hadn’t ever explored it in such depth. We pretty much did the entire island. The long Labour Day weekend helped. We did the South over 2 days and the North over another 2 days. The topography is quite wide-ranging and dramatic, and the landscape appeared greener than that of our own Helen at this time. I was impressed. During one of our outings just outside the capital, I observed an interesting looking, well compacted, dome shaped, symmetrical mound of variegated earth. Attractive to look at and different, it immediately caught my attention, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Can you guess? To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump… that’s right, it was a landfill (‘décharge’, enfrançais) and so tastefully stacked. Now that I think of it, there was no odour either. I would like to recommend to the relevant government unit over here that it look into the making of so fine a garbage dump. A tourist attraction with a difference, perhaps?

A few of you told me how pleased you were to read about the language stuff, and you hoped that all the culprits would take notice. Well, so would I, though that is surely a very vain hope. However, I would like to see students and other young people especially taking notice. Sure, they are already tainted, in the majority of cases, but nevertheless still more accessible than their elders who are less inclined to change, even when it’s for their own good. In fact, their condition is probably at the pathological stage by now, and beyond redemption. Okay then, let’s do a few more: Amount vs Number. The first is used with uncountable nouns, the other with countable nouns. Therefore, for example, to talk about the ‘amount’ of people, chairs, houses, pieces, groups or mistakes is altogether incorrect, and a big fat error. It’s the ‘number’ of those aforementioned countable things, and the ‘amount’ of the following uncountable things such as love, talent, hatred, initiative, disrespect, humility. In the same way, with ‘Less’ and ‘Fewer’, it’s grammatically incorrect to talk about ‘less chairs, people, mistakes, initiatives or houses’. You must use ‘Fewer’ instead, and reserve ‘Less’ for pudding, pity, cake, desire, passion, politeness and other uncountable nouns. End of lesson. Don’t forget to do your homework.

Finally, why don’t some people think that Soleil is a great, even good, idea? My question is of course purely rhetorical: I know the answer and so do you, so let’s not waste time on that. Apart from anything else in terms of its outlay, profits and other financial tangibles, which one hears are very favourable, there are the intangibles, the so-called physical intangibles that is, but still very much able to be measured in their perceived intangibility. One thinks of the increased opportunity for bacchanal by a nation of committed fêters, the greater inclusion of local performers, the higher possibility of unearthing local talent, the chance for the people’s fulfilment index to soar and suchlike. Who knows what real benefits could ensue from those fundamentals? So nothing wrong with Soleil, but please if Carnival falls under your banner, Soleil, can you work some magic and put an end to the wall-to-wall (with very few exceptions) nastiness? My heart always goes out to the young ones. The poignancy of seeing them attempt with every ounce of determination and every inch of their anatomy to mimic their elders in the latter’s foul, oh-so-ugly canine-copulating moves is too much for me to bear and I made the decision to stop watching a long time ago. Folks, let’s try to ‘helevate’, shall we?

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