A Professor of English language at the University of Port Harcourt, Nkem Okoh has released a new guide to “usage and grammar” in English.
In the book entitled ‘Keep Your Language Clean’, the author avoids what he calls the teaching of mere grammar and the mere teaching of grammar. He considers grammar a means to, even a handmaiden of, usage. The work, according to him, is “indeed concerned with producing, not language learners, but language users.”
The central imagery explored by the book concerns keeping our language clean. Okoh argues that while people are commonly concerned about their personal hygiene, Nigerians ought also to give even more attention to linguistic hygiene.
Considering the great apathy and lackadaisical attitude to language use in our society, the book remains the result of the author’s longstanding concern or dissatisfaction with the common malaise of poor linguistic usage in the country.
While all the language skills are, of course, important, the book identifies the immediacy of the oral medium, appropriately underscoring it by giving more attention to oral skills as a crucial component of keeping our language clean.
In its organization, the book pursues a simple, straightforward A–Z pattern, with the individual language points arranged alphabetically. Such an alphabetical arrangement gives the book a far more user-friendly look, making it also not just a textbook but also a reference work.
This, the author agrees, will enable the reader to go directly to the grammatical, usage or collocation item desired, without necessarily reading the book from cover to cover.
Okoh, has had a relatively long academic career, teaching at the University of Port Harcourt and other universities. With an ESP background, he has 40 years’ university experience of language teaching, in addition to teaching literature courses.
He has also published extensively, both locally and internationally, variously exploring diverse dimensions of literature as well as the new Englishes.