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Giving details... (II)

Published by Tribune on Sun, 21 Dec 2014

THE only sample that supported last week's discussion is today retained as Sample 1. That way, we would be in a position to continue to pursue a crucial grammatical point that monopolized analytical attention and energy last week.Sample 1:'In another breadth she indicated that all may not be well with the finances of the country...The commissioner warned that federal government's credibility was at stake as many states are battling to meet their basic obligations to their citizens because of the federal government's rigidity to adjust the 2014 budget...Giving the sensitive nature of the requests, the SEC will not disclose the names of the states that have approached it to raise funds from the capital market...'(B-R-O-K-E: States in the Throes of Biting Economic Crisis, The Nation, Sunday, November 30, 2014)It was noted last week that the word giving is a wrong choice in the following context: 'Giving the sensitive nature of the requests, SEC will not disclose the names of the states that have approached it to raise bonds from the capital market...' The word given, it was pointed out, is the appropriate form. Relying on the logic, if not the grammar, of the context, we inferred that the word giving is intended by the reporter to mean: in view of; in the light of; considering. That meaning, it was demonstrated, does not belong to giving but to given. Examples were then given of the usage of the form given. As a way of reviewing the discussion, five examples of the usage of given would suffice today: 1) Given the recklessness with which he drove, it would have been a surprise if he didn't have an accident. 2) Given the intensity and frequency of violent attacks, citizens have been advised to brace themselves for self-defence. 3) Given the ethno-religious diversity of the country, leaders should treat religious and cultural issues with care. 4) Given the monolithic nature of the Nigerian economy, the authorities are doing their best to protect and preserve the oil resources. 5) Given the sensitive nature of the task, a consultant has been contracted to handle it.Next, attention was drawn to the fact that the word giving is a present (or 'ing) participle and that the phrase it introduces is known as the participial phrase. Several sentences illustrating its usage were supplied. But today, just five sentences will suffice: 1) Giving further proof of his innocence, the suspect said he was not even in town on the day of the incident. 2) Giving an insight into how the mechanism works, the resource person compared it to the clock mechanism. 3) Giving details of INEC's preparation for the elections, the Chairman said all the materials needed for the exercise had been acquired. 4) Giving an explanation of what led to the crisis, the officer said some of his colleagues were not transparent enough. 5) Giving suggestions as to how to curb the crime, the lawyer said that only chartered accountants should be allowed to handle financial matters.The point about hanging/dangling/unrelated participles also received attention. A hanging/dangling/unrelated participle, we saw, is one in which the first noun/noun phrase after the participial phrase/expression bears no relationship with the participle giving (or any other participle for that matter) or in which there is no noun/noun phrase following the participial phrase/expression at all.Take sentence (3) immediately above which has 'Giving details...' as the opening participial phrase/expression. The participial phrase is immediately followed by the noun phrase, the Chairman. That phrase, the Chairman, is the subject of the verb give (in its participle form, giving). This means the Chairman it was who was giving details... But suppose instead of the Chairman, we have another noun/noun phrase in that position: 'Giving details of INEC's preparations for the elections, the primaries must produce credible candidates.' This is a faulty sentence because the noun phrase, the primaries, has no grammatical relationship with the participle giving. Who was giving details' The Chairman, according to the original version of the sentence. But this defective version says that it is the primaries that are giving details! This is an example of unrelated participle. Any one of the five sentences can be used to illustrate this grammatical point.We went ahead last week to illustrate the issue of participial expressions/phrases using different verbs, apart from giving. Five sentences will suffice today: 1) Claiming that the economy was strong and resilient, the Minister of Finance said Nigerians had nothing to fear regarding the fall in the price of crude oil in the international market. 2) Describing himself as creative, energetic, and influential, the young man said the secrets of his life are God and hard work. 3) Blaming parents and teachers for the terrible moral condition of the youth, the women activists said moral and spiritual rebirth should begin from home. 4) Condemning the abduction of over two hundred Chibok girls, the visiting Prime Minister promised his country's assistance in the effort to locate the girls. 5) Declaring his intention to make Nigeria a better place, General Buhari said Nigeria had been run by visionless and corrupt leaders.Please notice that those sentences have been carefully constructed to make sure that there is no problem of dangling participle. You can scrutinise them to see whether our claim is valid.So far, we have illustrated the use of participial phrases with the present (or ing) participle: using, claiming, describing, blaming, condemning, and declaring. But present participles are not the only type of participles there are. There are also past participles: broken, beaten, bitten, shaken, written, drunk, worsened, hindered, helped, deceived, encouraged, inspired, driven, motivated, etc.Now present (or ing) participles occur in the context of continuous or progressive tense: 1) I am using a ball pen. 2) Janet was discussing with her friend. 3) Farmers were preparing for harvest. 4) The students are using the library. 5) The pastor is encouraging members of his congregation. 6) The school is holding a conference.Please notice that each of the 'ing form of the verb is preceded by a relevant form of be---is, are, was, were, am. Since the use of present participles within participial phrases/expressions is already thoroughly familiar, we need not spend any more time on it.The past participle is used in two contexts: the perfect tense and the passive structure. Examples of the perfect tense: 1) I have broken all my promises because you have failed to keep all your own. 2) Our club has beaten yours twice. 3) Have you ever shaken hands with the president' 4) The dog has bitten two boys in the neighbourhood. 5) Poverty has hindered his progress in the last five years. 6) He had told a lied against me before I arrived. 7) I have kept the matter to myself for years. 8) Men have always oppressed women in traditional societies. 9) The workers have gone on strike twice this year. 10) The company has sold ten of its cars.As those sentences show, the perfect tense is of this nature: have/has/had plus a past participle. As noted earlier, the past participle is also found in the context of the passive structure. Consider the following structures: 1a) Foreigners broke our laws (active sentence): 1b) Our laws were broken by foreigners (passive sentence). 2a) The dog bit two boys (active sentence). 2b) Two boys were bitten by the dog (passive sentence). 3a) The girl wrote the essay (active sentence) 3b) The essay was written by the girl (passive sentence) 4a) The policeman pursued the armed robbers (active sentence) 4b) The armed robbers were pursued by the policeman. (passive sentence) 5a) Thugs were driving the participants out (active sentence) 5b) The participants were being driven out by thugs. (passive sentence) 6a) The government is studying the report (active sentence) 6b) The report is being studied by the government (passive sentence) 7a) The couple admit strangers into their house. (active sentence) 7b) Strangers are admitted into the house by the couple. (passive sentence) 8a) The company gives bursary awards every year (active sentence) 8b) Bursary awards are given by the company every year. (passive sentence) 9a) Newspapers report outlandish things every day. (active sentence) 9b) Outlandish things are reported by newspapers every day. ( passive sentence) 10a) Someone stole money from my wallet. ( active sentence) 10a) Money was stolen from my wallet by someone. (passive sentence)How do we use the past participle in the context of participial phrases/expressions' Let's illustrate this with the participle bitten: 'Bitten by the notorious dog, the two boys were foaming in the mouth and barking like dogs.' The participle is bitten and the participial phrase is: 'Bitten by the notorious dog...' Of course the participle bitten comes from the verb bite. What is the object of bite' In other words, who was bitten by the notorious dog' Of course it was the two boys that were bitten by the notorious dog. Quite appropriately, the noun phrase, the two boys, comes immediately after the participial phrase/expression.However, it would be grammatically faulty and semantically misleading to allow any phrase other than the two boys to follow the participial phrase directly. That would be a case of unrelated/hanging/dangling participle. Here is an example: 'Bitten by the notorious dog, the government sent policemen into the neighbourhood.' Now the first occurring noun phrase after the participial expression is the government. Can we then say it was the government that was bitten by the notorious dog' Not at all. This is an example of unrelated participle. The participle is said to be hanging or dangling.More examples will follow next week by God's grace.
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