Minister for Basic Education Angie Motshekga announcing the reopening of schools this week.
Minister for Basic Education Angie Motshekga announcing the reopening of schools this week.

Ed's Note: Like using right words, ensure no slip-ups going back to school

By Mazwi Xaba Time of article published May 23, 2020

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Durban - Long ago, Mrs Malaprop gave us malapropism, the mistaken use of a similarly sounding word in place of another, which can result in hilarious utterances.

William Spooner brought us spoonerism, where the initial sounds of two or more letters in words making up a sentence are transposed.

This week Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga came very close to giving us motshekgaism, the butchering of new disease terms. She almost uttered something like “Codiv-19”, as she did during her first briefing about the re-opening of schools.

Thankfully, she chose to use the shorter and simpler “corona”. Clearly she has benefited from some learning and teaching from her communications crew.

Slips of the tongue can be entertaining and are understandable. But they can be dangerous, especially when children, detractors and distractors are listening.

Now the message is clear. It’s back to school time. The experts recommend they be reopened, gradually, sooner rather than later.

While everything possible should be done to protect lives, there can be no guarantees.

After Wednesday, let no one twist the minister’s words. What we all should do is help make the reopening of schools as smooth and safe as possible. Let’s hope the personal protective equipment will be delivered “just in time”.

The teachers, the principals and union leaders, as well as the parents and other stakeholders should also get ready in time and play their part.

The Independent on Saturday

For editor Mazwi Xaba's previous columns, click below


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