GRAMMATICAL ERROR ANALYSIS OF SELECTED NEWS SCRIPTS OF THE BROADCASTING CORPORATION OF ABIA STATE RADIO, UMUAHIA
This study was carried out in respect to the grammatical errors that currently exist in the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State Radio, Umuahia. The sole aim of this study was to carefully investigate the above station’s news scripts, examine their structure, and to find out the causes, types and patterns of grammatical errors which include punctuation, concord, omission, preposition and pluralisation errors in the selected news scripts of different years. The most selected news scripts used were world news, news in brief, news headlines, news package, news segment, and news digest. The data were collected from the news room of the BCA Radio, Umuahia, which represents other media houses all over the country. Each of the above news scripts was selected and surveyed on a daily basis for a period of three weeks and was finally used for the study. The data used were analysed using a simple percentage calculations, while a simple randomisation method was adopted in collecting the data. From the findings, it was believed that those grammatical errors were as a result of the low level of education of the media workers, especially the journalists and the incomplete mastery of the English language among the broadcasting corporation bodies like the news casters or reporters which has a negative impact on the listeners because listeners rely on word meanings of these news as absolutely correct. However, to remedy these ugly situations that have befallen the media houses here in Nigeria, the researcher recommended that broadcasting authorities should employ only well-qualified language experts that are highly proficient in the English language to serve as editors who will competently proofread the news lines before they are broadcast.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Approval Page ii
Table of Contents v
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study1
1.1 1. The Concept of News4
1.1 2. The Origin of the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) Radio, Umuahia 6
1 2. Statement of Problem7
1.3.Purpose of the Study 8
4. Scope of the Study 9
Significance of the Study9
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2 1. Preamble11
2 2. Review of Related Literature11
CHAPTER THREE: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Area of the Study27
The population of the Study27
Method of Data Collection 27
Method of Data Analysis28
CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS OF GRAMMATICAL ERRORS IN THE NEWS SCRIPTS
Presentation of Findings29
Grammatical Errors in the Scripts Studied29
Punctuation Errors31 4.3.2.Concord Errors 34
Prepositional Errors 38
Omission Errors42 4.3.5.Pluralization Errors47
Summary of the Findings50
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDIES
Summary of the Study52
Suggestions for Further Studies54
Works Cited 57
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Today, a good number of people across the world listen to news. In the Nigerian society, a lot of people, most especially the elite, listen to news to get adequate updates concerning events and happenings in society. Consequently, this has led to the evolution of a plethora of more news media in the country over the years. Also, news items are often constructed in certain structures to specifically capture the highlights of ideas and stories in news scripts. Tiono (20) argues that in order to attract listeners’ attention, journalists make the scripts sound so interesting that listeners become more curious to know the content of the whole story and thereby listen to news in detail. This entails that the professionalism of a journalist is measured by his ability to use the language appropriately and thereby he ought to be a standard bearer of English usage because he does more than writing. He edits write-ups from other people; he comments and criticizes them, and he puts the news lines together.
Thus, as a result of the way language is used and the way certain linguistic structures are constructed in news scripts, news often has a great influence on the listeners, though it is a pity that many news scripts are replete with various types of errors which affect the effective use of the English language. The media workers are always in a hurry to publish their papers so as to meet the demands of readers, especially in the case of daily news scripts. In their attempt to meet a deadline, there is always this curiosity to rush their publications and in the process, it becomes difficult for proper cross-checking of scripts. This results in errors such as typographical errors, omission of articles, wrong use of prepositions, concord errors, disordering of words, and so on. “One of the reasons for bad grammar in news scripts includes the fact that many people have a hand in the production of news scripts; all of them are in a hurry to meet the deadline” (Brooks 109).
Inevitable occurrences of errors in news scripts are equally as a result of the involvement of incompetent people without the proper skills and knowledge of journalism who are employed in the media houses or radio and television stations. For instance, when Julius Eto, a formal guardian newspaper editor, was interviewed concerning the qualification of a newspaper editor, he said “any graduate in any of the arts and social science related courses with at least a second class lower division, can be a proof reader.” This, therefore, often leads to language errors in news scripts. Wrong expressions in news scripts have contributed to the deteriorating standard of the use of the English language in society.
Meanwhile, the news scripts as instruments for mass communication should help foster the use of good English among Nigerians. Unfortunately, news scripts are perpetuators of bad English. Furthermore, some Nigerian news scripts have deviated so much from the rules governing the use of good and standard forms of the English language.
As a result, a careful study of grammaticalerrors in the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State news scripts is needed to examine their structure which will ultimately aid in the understanding of news items. That is why this work is borne out of a desire to study the patterns of grammatical errors in the selected news scripts from different years of the BCA Radio, Umuahia, so as to discover how utterances used in these news scripts reflect incompetence in the functioning of the radio corporation.
News casting involves communication and communication involves language use. “When human beings communicate with one another, they usually do that through speech or writing. Speech involves language sounds which are associated with meaning” Onuigbo (1). According to Ukachi, language is a uniquely human activity. Human beings are born with a language acquisition device (LAD), a faculty that allows a child to acquire the language or languages spoken around him. She further explains language as: “…a system of spoken or written words that humans learn in order to be able to communicate with one another…” (2).
TheEncyclopedia defines language as “the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communications” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). In fact, the word language has been originally derived from the Latin word ‘Lingua’ which means ‘tongue.’ When we use “language” in general, it refers to the cognitive faculty which enables us to learn and use systems of complex communication. Research finding has proved that there are many languages (nearly 3000-6000 languages) which are spoken all over the world.
The world recognises that the language of the mass media is predominantly English. The implication of this is not to show that our indigenous languages are not used in delivering news. The English language is non-indigenous to Nigeria but it is the nation’s official language and her lingua franca. Azubuike (8) refers to the English language as being Anglo- Saxon or old English Language of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes who came from Northern Germany and displaced the Celts who were the original inhabitants of England. The establishment of Lagos as a British colony in 1862 officially marked the advent of the English language in Nigeria. With the arrival of the Europeans in Nigeria for political, economic or religious conquest, there arose a need for communication between the English and Nigerians from different ethnic groups. The Europeans, according to Onunkwo (2010), quoted in UzoezieRapheal (163), had a very poor opinion of the vernacular whichthey considered neither very extensive nor of very high quality. So, these Europeans decided to use their own language in communication with Nigerians.
According to Uzoezie (163), the British ousted the Portuguese and replaced the contact language with English as the language of diplomacy and trade. He further says that England also acquired the monopoly for slave trading along the West Coast of Africa by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the subsequent British success in the famous race to Nikki in 1884, and according to him, the ground was, thus, already prepared for the permeation of the English language along the coast and the hinterlands. Due to the contacts between the English
language, Portuguese, and some indigenous languages, a form of inter-language (pidgin) emerged (164). In 1862, the official annexation of Lagos as a British colony took place; thus, the British needed manpower badly for running its affairs of government in Nigeria, and having adopted English as the language it would utilize in government, they then had to teach the indigenes English in order to facilitate better.
The missionaries who also came to Nigeria to spread the gospel had to use English. They emphasised the English language as it related to religion. They introduced reading, arithmetic and writing to Nigerians as part of the strategies of conversion. Thus, they enhanced the spread of the language. Therefore, the English language became the language of government, the mass media, education, politics and the lingua franca of Nigeria. However, the English language created problems for many Nigerians. These problems appeared in the forms of errors in language usage at all levels of linguistics– phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, graphological, pragmatics and so on. These errors came as a result of language contacts between English and the different mother tongues, the so-called vernacular languages. These languages are totally unrelated to English; there are a lot of disparities, for instance, in the phonemic inventories, syllabic structures, spellings and syntax. In speaking the English language, Nigerians, most times, infuse aspects of their indigenous languages, which appear as an error.
The Concept of News
According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex, news is a piece of information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by means of newspapers, websites, radio, television, and other forms of media. Also, it can be seen as a representation of such information as in a newspaper or on a newscast. In a nutshell, newscast is a radio or television broadcast of news lines.
Today’snews script has its base from 17th century Europe. One page of newsscript gives a specific event which was printed in English in Holland in 1620 and imported to England by the British booksellers who were eager to satisfy public demand for information about continental happenings that eventually led to what we call the thirty-year war. People like Nathaniel Butter, Thomas Archer and Nicholas Bourne eventually began printing their own occasional news sheets. They stopped printing in 1961, the same year that regular, daily account of local news started appearing in other news sheets.
News casting is another word for broadcast journalism, and the presentation of news on television and radio. News casting has been a popular form of journalism since the early 20th century and has outpaced newspapers and other forms of print media as the most common way people get news. News casting basically means a system of broadcasting or a radio or television broadcast of the news commentary about events on sports, politics, education, entertainment, and announcements that is transmitted and read by radio or television to a target audience by specified sponsors, through multi-faceted means. Radio news is a radio broadcast or commentary of news.
Newscasts are most commonly seen in the typical anchor-driven fast-pace format seen on local and national news shows. Newscasts also can be more specific, focusing on one topic, such as sports. They also can be in the form of news magazines, longer programs reporting a few stories more in-depth rather than a quick overview. The birth of Central Network News (CNN) in 1980 created a 24 hour news cycle, which allowed people to access the news whenever they wanted. Radio newscasts can vary widely from short “rip and read” bits where a broadcaster reports the headlines to more in-depth programming on networks such as National Public Radio. While anchors and reporters are the public faces of a newscast, there are many others that work hard to put together the programme. The news director organizes news stories, the sales manager generates the programme’s income by selling advertising time and promoting the camera crew and thereby making sure the broadcast runs smoothly. As with other forms of journalism, newscasts face an uncertain future. With more people getting their news from the internet, newscasters are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and maintain their viewers and listeners.
The Origin of the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) Radio, Umuahia
The Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) Radio, with the slogan “the station born to lead” is a branch of news casting and media station in Umuahia, Abia State of Nigeria that dwells on politics, education, sports, local and national news, and so on. It is that station which portrays socio-political events in the country. In pursuance of its cardinal objectives of informing, educating and entertaining, the BCA acquired a piece of land along the Government Station Layout and this site today has been developed and is presently housing the corporate headquarters of the station. The BCA uses two channels of communication, which are the radio and television channels. The BCA Radio which is on 88.1FM came on air on the 16th of November, 1992, while the Television station which is on channel 47 UHF band went on air on the 14th of August, 1994. The station has continued to live up to its bidding and is blessed with men and women who have continually exhibited commitment and diligence in the discharge of their responsibilities. In order to streamline its activities to ensure smooth operations, the corporation is made up of the following departments: the director-general’s office which has the corporate affairs, the internal and transport units which cover administration, radio service, television service, and commercial service. The Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State is located at Government Station Layout, Umuahia, Abia State, with the Private Mail Bag (PMB) 7276.
Umuahia is the capital of Abia State in south-eastern Nigeria. It is located along the rail road that lies between Port Harcourt andUmuahia south and Enugu city to its north. It has a population of 359,230 according to the 2006 Nigerian census with Igbo as the indigenous ethnic group and is well known as an agricultural market centre since 1916. It is also a railway collecting point for crops such as yams, cassava, corn (maize), citrus fruits, palm oil and kernels. It comprises two local government areas: Umuahia North and Umuahia South which are made up of clans such as the Umuokpara, Ibeku, Olokoro, Ubakala and Ohuhu communities. Umuahia town is traditionally owned by the Ibekus after early British administrators lived in their lands. Umuahia was established by the British colonial administration of Nigeria in the early 20th century and was declared the second capital of the short-lived Republic of Biafra on 28th September 1967, after the first capital, Enugu, was captured by the Nigerian troops on June 28th, 1968. On April 22nd, 1969, Umuahia was occupied and nearly taken by the Nigerian troops but they were forced to retreat due to a stiff offensive by Biafran Major E.A. Eutuk. After Umuahia's capture on 24th December 1969, the last Biafran capital before its dissolution became Owerri. The old Umuahia Local Government was split by the Abacha-led government into the existing three local government areas of Ikwuano, Umuahia North and Umuahia South. Government College Umuahia and University of Agriculture, Umudike now fall into the domain of the Ikwuano people.
Statement of Problem
Reports about language errors in news scripts by some scholars like Ifecheobi (2011), states that “there is a great disparity between the accepted forms of the English language and what one finds in the news scripts; Nigerian news scripts now seem to have ungrammatical forms and ill-formed constructions in their use of language.” News is a continuous source of information and education for those who listen to it, and so, its sentence structure has to be as lucid as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the case in most Nigerian broadcasting
corporations. The pages of many news scripts are replete with various types of errors, prominent among which are the grammatical errors in the sentence structures. News producers in Nigeria use the English language in ways that suit them, not minding whether their language use contains structures that contravene grammaticality. If words are wrongly used, the connection between the noun and the verb which defines the meaning of the noun is lost. Generally, these deviations (omissions, prepositional errors, concord, punctuation errors, and so on) affect comprehension of the whole news. This causes a considerable degree of confusion for listeners.
Obviously, there have been some studies, such as the one by CosmasNjoku(2014) onThe Misuse of the English Articles in Selected Nigerian Newspapersand some others which dwelt on the error analysis to depict the errors and poor standard of English in Nigerian news scripts. However, to the best knowledge of the researcher, none has fully focused on the grammatical errors of the English in the BCA radio news scripts. This lacuna in knowledge inspired the researcher to carry out this study in order to supplement the knowledge currently available in this field.
Finally, events of the past news scripts have shown that manyscripts are grammatically incorrect and it is for this reason that this research is being carried out to address such issues as: Are there grammatical errors in the news scripts? Are these grammatical errors recognised by most people? Do these errors serve any specific purpose?Are these errors gradually becoming the standard forms of English usage for most Nigerians?
Purpose of the Study
To meet the purpose of the study, this work will focus on the ability to identify the differentgrammatical errors inthe selected news scripts of the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State Radio, Umuahia. Specifically, the study will explore the following objectives:
i) Identification of the kinds of errors committed by journalists who wrote the news scripts studied.
ii) The occurrence of grammatical errors and the level of education of the newscasters and reporters.
iii) Identification of how listeners accept word meanings of these news lines as absolutely correct.
Scope of the Study
The study will focus on the scripts of BCA Radio, Umuahia because the time available for the study and logistics will not permit the researcher to use scripts from all the radio stations in Nigeria. Again, this study will be restricted to grammatical error analysis, using some selected news scripts from the same station which is geographically located at Ogurube Layout, Ibeku, Umuahia North, Abia State of Nigeria.
These errors are also applicable to most other television and radio stations in Nigeria but a good number of scripts from 2013 till 2015 will be selected from this particular station as the data.
Significance of the Study
This study will be of great benefit to the Broadcasting Authorities to decide on which level of education news presenters or journalists must attain before they could be employed in a broadcasting company since these errors are also caused by the low level of their formal education. Also, it will benefit the general public in the sense that it will expose the grammatical errors in the language of news broadcast, because many people are not aware of the existence of these errors and as such accept those erroneous forms as “standard forms of English.” Most importantly, it would serve as a reference point to the journalists who engage in the writing of news lines to carefully edit their work and put more effort in their use of grammatical structures. News listeners will as well benefit from this study in such a way that
they would be aware that BCA radio news scripts as they are today are not a standard bearer of the English language as it ought to be and so should be conscious of the errors whenever they occur. More so, the study will give impetus to the news casters or news presenters to always proofread their material before reading them out to the listeners. Finally, it is believed that this work will be beneficial to the entire students of English and literary studies, researchers and linguists who are interested in grammar.
The following research questions are put in place to guide the study:
i) To what extent do the kinds of errors committed by journalists who write the news scripts reflet the mastery of the English language?
ii) In which ways does the level of education of the newscasters or reporters contribute to the occurrence of errors in the news scripts?
iii) To what extent do listeners rely on word meanings of news as absolutely correct?.