Sunday, January 29, 2017

SV: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Princes, Not Kings, Are Called "His Royal Highness"

Cornelius! You could have participated in this discussion on Princes, Not Kings, are called "His Royal Highness," without involving my person (name) since I carry no tittle of any trademark, real or imaginary.  Discussing about how Royal Families in Nigeria should be addressed is nothing but mental masturbation, because there is no Federal Kingdoms of Nigeria but Federal Republic of Nigeria. Commonsense wise, if the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in contrast with other Federal Republics in the world, constitutionally permits monarchy, it is a gross waste of time to demand that the Royal Families in Nigeria be addressed to conform with Royal Kingdoms in Europe.

Much as I appreciate the freedom of every individual to post whatever he/she wants on this forum, I reserve to myself the right to comment or not on any subject. To some people, education ( which in Nigeria implies fluency in spoken and written English language) amounts to nothing but ego boosting chauvinism. They work on self-progress and not on collective progress. Thus, the Buckingham Palace Professor of Queen's English in his post of Saturday, 29 October 2016, on this forum told readers that "I write my language columns (in the Nigerian Daily Trust) because I am paid well to do so." Psychologists will classify that behaviour as intellectual prostitution or mercenary. In a response to a patriotic African who regarded this forum as a medium to proffer solutions to myriads of Africa's socio-economic problems, the Buckingham Palace Professor of Queen's English, on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, fumed on this forum thus, "You take yourself .... and what you do here ... too seriously. You think you can help Africa's cultural and economic 'burns' by what you write here? Seriously? Is this list serve some supernational African government that can solve Africa's problem? If you want to solve Africa's problems, get off the list and go do something about it (in Africa). Good luck to you." The White World think that Black people always meet all life's problems with laughter, dance and drum-assisted songs, and any Black man that does not think that solutions to the problems of Africa can emerge from this forum belongs to the category of Black People who meet all life's problem with laughter, and drum-assisted songs. I take this forum seriously, which is why I choose not to comment on topics on based primarily only on mental masturbation. The decayed Professor is well-perfumed, but perfume can only mask the decay and not eliminate the decay!!


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Skickat: den 28 januari 2017 04:19
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Never expect light always! (Some idle musing on the topic.)

Check this out " Tribute To Burstic Kingsley Bassey" in which Chief Inyang Henshaw moans that he is sure that wherever Burstic Kingsley Bassey may be he would understand the tribute better when rendered in his mother tongue.

In Independent, post-colonial Nigeria, how are traditional rulers addressed in their mother tongue/s and how do such modes of address translate into English (British) or Nigerian English? There's no reason why Nigerians have to "borrow" British forms of addressing Nigerian royalty so that they correspond to British notions as exactly as possible. Or maybe, there is. Such as Brits mistaking Nigerian monarchs for princes because of Nigerians misuse/ wrong use of "His Royal Highness" when addressing their own monarchs. Next, someone (maybe from the UK (British English) or from Texas or Alaska (American English) will be telling Nigerians – instructing them how to address Nigerian deities in British English or American English ? Or how not to pray to God or talk to Jesus, in Nigerian English, because he may not understand the grammar and maybe he would prefer Galilean Hebrew or the Aramaic language that Jesus of Nazareth spoke ?

There's the wonderful Ethiopian Kebra Nagast ( in translation ) which illustrates the courtly decorum of that historical milieu, eloquence, great speeches, the forms of polite expression , the high forms of rhetoric, courtesy, graciousness that is mostly missing today. I became familiar with it in 1985 when I was a member of Bob Marley's organisation, " The Twelve Tribes of Israel" - being born on the 14th of July, was astrologically assigned to the house of Judah – Kebra Nagast was required reading , you know all the fanfare and trumpets about the Ethiopian Emperor's ancestral Solomonic line ( the lineage of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba)

What's in a name? Ask Trump. Plenty. What's in a title? It mirrors and confirms some people's sense of dignity , integrity, power, recognition and according to protocol when in the presence of royalty you had better address them correctly! In Queen Elizabeth 11's biography there is the episode when as a little girl (presumptive heir to the throne) she demands that someone kneel when addressing royalty.

Consider : The Queen tells the Duchess of Cambridge to curtsy to the 'blood princesses'

Maybe, it's cultural, this fascination with inflated job titles as evidenced by "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular" who styled himself "The Last King of Scotland" and more recently by little Gambia's "His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa" – the last title Mansa suggestively reminiscent of the great Malian King Mansa Musa, reputed to be "the richest man that ever lived" Undoubtedly, if Mr. Jammeh's long rule had not been so abruptly terminated, he could have also entered into the Guinness Book of Records as one of the richest Sheikh Professor Alhaji Drs that ever lived. He probably is. Mansa Musa of course was also a king of generosity in giving sadaqah - he took several camel-loads of caravans laden with gold, when on pilgrimage to Mecca. That too he will remembered for. Some people build mansions in heaven by doing good works on earth.

Maybe, because of the history of military rule in Nigeria, in all kinds of work places in Nigeria, people are referred to as "Chief of staff" which reeks of a military title, "he who decides everything"– as in guarding/ not guarding that concrete slab. We (e.g. Sierra Leone people) also like to confer titles on people, for example, I mostly address Ogbeni Kadiri as "Your Majesty" (sleeping giant of Africa, military lord of West Africa etc. ) or simply as "Carl Gustaf", but never as "Ooni of Ife" or "Eze" since he might take exception to the latter, because there's already some confusion about the status or meaning of Eze outside of his own natural surroundings and as to exactly how that status is to be rendered in the holy English tongue - is it "King" or something even culturally higher? Furthermore, since there's no revealed scripture of a golden stool and no invocation that we know of, as in the case of James 1 of England and Scotland " the divine right of kings", Sweden not being part of Yorubaland, he could definitely take exception to the latter being conferred on him, within the jurisdiction of the Stockholm municipality where we both live, since Stockholm is as much Igboland as Ondo state, where he comes from.

Who knows, maybe just as the latest Nobel Laureate crowed a long time ago, "There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden". Otherwise, I've only heard the term " king of America" once:

"Save my soul, save it soon!
The king of America fell in swoon"

(Donovan : Poke at the Pope)

Outside of song Bob Dylan is sometimes referred to as "the king" , Elvis too, once " the king of rock and roll) Trump the Republican is probably as close as they can come to having a king of America: on the southern flank of his kingdom, like the great wall of China

The wall, the wall,

bugs, slugs , earthworms can

crawl under

pigeons can easily

fly over

Trump's wall

and Mexico will pay for it...

Diplomatic protocol, the propriety of addressing British royalty His Royal Highness indeed - if it's the Prince of Wales you're referring to, I like him very much – could choose forms of address from some of the very friendly terms used by Mr. Shakespeare from Prince Hamlet ( a Danish prince) to young Prince Hal (Harry ) before he became king Henry V)

This memorable line from Coming to America makes it clear the improper terms of address in US which does not have a kings and how African royalty could be addressed if /when he crosses the line and since it's black to black we're not talking about the Mason-Dixon line :

Mr. Cleo McDowell (John Amos) the father of Prince Akeem's prospective bride Lisa in a little tiff with Prince Akeem says to him:

"I don't give a damn who you are. This is America, Jack. Now, you say one more word about Lisa, and I'll break my foot off in your royal ass!"

On Sunday, 22 January 2017 20:01:50 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:
My Politics of Grammar column in today's Daily Trust on Sunday.

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

In this week's column, based on requests from readers, I explain why the popular Nigerian English "His Royal Highness" is strange to English speakers outside Nigeria. I also explain why "the Gambia" is always preceded by the article "the." You will find other questions and answers on grammar and usage as well.

Traditional rulers in Nigeria are often formally addressed as "His Royal Highness." That is unconventional by the standards of British English from where we borrowed it. Sovereign monarchs or kings are never addressed as "His/Her Royal Highness." Only princes and princesses are addressed as such.

In British English these monarchs are addressed as Their "Royal Majesty," not Their "Royal Highness"

When princes or princesses become monarchs, they are addressed as "His Majesty" if they are males or "Her Majesty" if they are females. In some countries they are addressed as "His/Her Royal Majesty."

Many British citizens not familiar with Nigeria's conventions of address mistake our monarchs as princes because of the "His Royal Highness" (or HRH) honorific that precedes their names. In other European countries, such as the Netherlands, monarchs that have abdicated their thrones are also called "His Royal Highness."

As I wrote in a previous article, a British person unfamiliar with the forms of address in Nigerian English would, for instance, think the Emir of Kano is a mere prince of Kano if he is addressed as "His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II."

I don't know why Nigerians call their monarchs "His Royal Highness" instead of "His (Royal) Majesty" or some other more befitting honorific, but given how the British colonial government discouraged monarchs in their colonies being called "kings" (see my August 3, 2014 article titled "5 Words Native English Speakers Never Ever Use for Themselves") it is conceivable that this, too, has roots in colonial politics of racial and cultural differentiation.

British colonialists compelled traditional rulers in their colonies to refer to themselves as "chiefs" and not "kings." Most English dictionaries define a "chief" as the head of a "tribe" or a "clan." That's why it's also rendered as "tribal chief." (Although "tribe" has more than one meaning, when it is used to refer to an ethnic group, it means primitive, preliterate people.) Since Europeans—or at least contemporary Europeans—have no "tribes" (read my articles on the word "tribe"), they have no "chiefs." Only nonwhite people do. What Europeans had or have are "kings"—and "queens."

But a little more context is needed to unpack the ethnocentrism of the term. I recently read an 1821 British Foreign Office document titled Correspondence with Foreign Courts Regarding Execution of Treaties Contracted. On page 110 of the document, the reader finds that the British colonial government actually went out of its way to purposively discourage people in their African and Asian colonies from calling their monarchs "kings."

"King," the document says, is reserved only for a British monarch. Monarchs in the colonies should just be called "chiefs." If the "chiefs" enjoy enduring historic prestige among their people, they might be called "paramount chiefs," but never "kings."  

Nigerians have internalized this nomenclatural discrimination and call their monarchs "chiefs." This is especially true in northern Nigeria where non-Muslim—or non-Emirate— traditional rulers are called "chiefs," and their spheres of traditional influence are called "chiefdoms."

In southern Nigeria "chief" is chiefly prefixed to the name of a traditional title holder. (See my June 15, 2014 article titled "A Pragmatic Analysis of 'Emir,' 'Sarki,' 'Oba' and 'Chief' in Nigerian English.") It is equivalent to a knighthood in Britain, that is, an honor given by a traditional ruler to a non-royal person for personal merit or, in southern Nigeria, for being rich and famous. So southern Nigerian "chiefs" are not royalty.

But "chiefs" in northern Nigeria are royalty, even if recently invented royalty. Won't it be nice, in the interest of linguistic equity, if we prefixed "Chief" to the names of these European monarchs: the Chief of England, the Chief of Denmark, the Chief of Norway, the Chief of Spain, the Chief of Sweden, the Chief of the Netherlands, the Chief of Belgium, etc.?

Why the "the" in the Gambia?

Many people have asked me to explain the appearance of the definite article "the" in the name of the Gambia, which just narrowly escaped a civil war thanks to the intervention of ECOWAS. Well, typically, the names of countries that derive their names from the names of rivers are often preceded by the definite article "the." Gambia takes its name from the 700-mile Gambia River.

Another example of a country that derived its name from a river and, for that reason, usually has the article "the" in its names is "the Congo" (named after the Congo River). But there are many countries named after rivers (such as Zambia, Uruguay, etc.) that don't officially have the definite article "the" in their names. It's a national preference.

Countries whose names are invariably pluralized also usually have the definite article "the" in their names. Examples are the Netherlands, the Philippines, the West Indies, the United States, etc.


I am accustomed to saying "jokes apart" when I want to get serious after joking, but I was checking my dictionary this morning and I saw the phrase "joking apart/aside," which means the same thing with what I know as "jokes apart." I want to know which one is more correct than the other.  


Although it may sound strange to many Nigerians, the correct idiom is "joking apart" or "joking aside."  Sometimes it's rendered as "all joking apart/aside." The phrase "jokes apart," I've discovered, is unique to Nigerian English and Indian English. I am yet to figure out why only Nigerian and Indians render the phrase as "jokes apart." Although both varieties of English are descended from British English, their unique phrasing for the idiom is certainly not British.

 A search for the phrase in the British National Corpus yielded not a single match. (The British National Corpus is a "100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of current British English, both spoken and written.")


 I met an American girl online some time ago. In the course of our chat, she told me she wasn't married, so I said something about her being a "spinster" and she got upset. What's wrong with calling an unmarried woman a spinster? What am I missing?


 You're missing a lot. In contemporary English usage, the word spinster is considered pejorative. Careful speakers and writers avoid it.

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, "In modern everyday English spinster cannot be used to mean simply 'unmarried woman'; it is now always a derogatory term, referring or alluding to a stereotype of an older woman who is unmarried, childless, prissy, and repressed."

So, by the conventions of modern usage, it's incorrect to call a young woman in her 20s or 30s—or maybe even early 40s— a "spinster." The word is reserved only for women who are still unmarried—and childless— by the time they reached or are approaching menopause. 

American English uses "bachelorette" or "bachelor girl" to refer to an unmarried young woman. Note, though, that these terms are absent in British English, although America's cultural dominance ensures that they are widely understood. "Single" or "single woman" appears to be the preferred term across all native English varieties.

Related Articles:

Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media
Social Science Building 
Room 5092 MD 2207
402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website:
Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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