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« Kaba Days Are Here | Main | Biya's Limousine Nearly Swallowed By Flood »

Thursday, 31 May 2007


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A good piece of writing portrays not only coherence but sheer intelligence. These are the role models we need in Cameroon. We had them right there but our desire for mediocrity threatened and destroyed everything. Sam Nuvala Fonkem, where have you been?


Sam Nuvala Fonkem,
I am not against your critism, however, make sure you are free from ills that you censure. I say so because a find fault with your punctuation. For example, the semicolon is never used together with a conjuction as here: "Radio Cameroon has actually been taking its audience for a ride; and a rough ride indeed"

To fellow readers, we keep learning everyday. There are many of us who do not know when to use a comma or a semicolon; some simply avoid the semicolon. Below is a guide to the usage of a semicolon/comma.
The semicolon is a simple piece of punctuation, much easier to work with than the comma because it follows fairly clear rules. If you learn the two simple rules I explained here, you'll rarely go wrong. It has two main uses, which are both easy to identify. You use it to connect two independent clauses together into one sentence, and you use it as a super-comma. You can use it in a few other unusual situations, but they come up rarely, and there are other ways to handle those situations. Learn them if you want to be perfect, but if you learn to recognize the two primary uses, you will do fine as semicolon user.

1.To Connect Two Independent Clauses

Independent clauses are series of words that could stand alone as complete sentences. When you have two otherwise complete sentences that you want to connect to form one long sentence, use a semicolon between them. It binds two sentences more closely than they would be if separated by a full stop/period. It often replaces a conjunction such as and or but. Writers might consider this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-on' in meaning from one to the next; they do not want the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a full stop.

Example1: This could be a complete sentence; this could be another one.
If you put a comma where that semicolon is, you will have committed a "comma splice," which is a very nasty grammar error indeed. Sometimes, the second clause doesn't really look like a complete sentence, so you must watch closely.
Example2: Twelve workers started the project; only six remain.
Example3:I am alone; my wife travelled.
There is, however, one exception that can cause you a problem. You don't use a semicolon to connect two complete sentences if there's a conjunction between the clauses (and, but, etc.). In that case, use a comma. (Sam Nuvala Fonkem`s case above)
Example: Radio Cameroon has actually been taking its audience for a ride, and a rough ride indeed.

Adding that single word, the conjunction "and," means that you must change that semicolon into a comma.

2.To Serve as a Super-comma

When you have a series of three or more items that normally would be separated by commas except that each individual item already has a comma in it, you use the semicolon between items.
Example: I traveled to London, England; Siegen, Germany; and Yaounde, Cameroon.
Example: The trio's birthdays are November 10, 1946; December 7, 1947; and October 31, 1950.
Example1: Her favorite players are Eto´o F , an attacker; Song B, a defensive end; and Wambo D, another attacker.
Example2:Watesih scored 2,845,770 points; Knanjo, 2,312,860; and Fon, 2,726,640.
As in the examples above, citing places, dates, and people's names with descriptions, are very common situations where you'll see the super-comma usage.

3.Minor Uses

A few relatively infrequent situations also call for a semicolon. When you list three or more items tacked onto the end of a complete sentence preceded by a connector word such as "that is," "for example," or "for instance," you may use either a comma or a semicolon. Either of the following two example sentences is correct.
Example: Be sure to watch out for grammar errors; for instance, comma splices, run-on sentences, and dangling modifiers.
Example: Be sure to watch out for grammar errors, for instance, comma splices, run-on sentences, and dangling modifiers.
You may also use a semicolon to connect two otherwise complete sentences even if they are connected by a conjunction, if the first sentence already has one or more commas in it. It's optional, but may on occasion make the sentence more understandable.
Example: When I eat alone, I leave a mess; but that's not the worst of it.
Both the minor uses noted above are optional, so if you can remember only the first two situations above, you'll never go wrong by putting a semicolon where it doesn't belong.

Hope it may help many who write without punctuation. Some write one sentece with some many "ands"


corection: "because I find fault with your punctuation"


Fon, I find your posting above uncalled for. There are thousands of language books for us to use. It would have been better to give a reference for those who are interested to check it for themselves.

By the way you missed the point! Each piece of writing has a context. For example, a newspaper context is totally different from a textbook context. Moreover the issue at stake was not that of punctuation but one of meaning and coherency. You are not even sure if the the problem is from the editor or from Sam Fonkem. It would be better to logically explore such situations before hastily making conclusions. One or two punctuation errors does prevent people from understanding the message. Remember that if you see one black swan, it does not mean all swans are black. The next 99 swans may just be white.

Bear in mind, also, that writing in this forum is more of a conversation than you would have elsewhere. So keep your language lessons for some other use. The important issue is for us to understand ourselves. People should not be bared from contributing because of punctuation incompetencies.

Finally, it is better to tackle the issue the article is talking about than always digressing. This type of digression makes the reading quite painful.

Ma Mary

All writers, even those who are Nobel laureates or experts in grammar and writing can make mistakes. That is why all writers need someone to look over a piece before publicationd.

We must make a distinction between minor occasional lapses of those who have worked hard to master language, and those who make frequent, gross, embarrassing mistakes.

Speech is particularly tricky because you cannot swallow it back once it is gone, particularly in a live radio show.


Your explanation is not wrong as Sam's sentence is not grammatically incorrect.

Ndi O

For those in the Diaspora.
Please find details of the changes about to take place concerning the
Cameroon telephony.

The phone numbering plan for phones in Cameroon (MTN, Orange, Camtel) will
from 7 to 8 digits on June 2nd, 2007. The phone operators announced that
there will be
a complete phone outage (cell phone and fixed phone networks), starting
June 1st, at midnight and is estimated to take 4 to 6 hours to complete.

Add 7 before MTN numbers starting with 7, 5 and 45, 46, 47, 48, 49
Add 8 before Orange numbers starting with 9, 6 and 41, 42, 43, 44
Add 3 before Camtel numbes starting with 3
Add 2 before Camtel numbers starting with 2

MTN: Digit 7 added to the current numbers. Examples:
- Current number: 770 00 00 -> New Number: 7770 00 00
- Current number: 555 00 00 -> New Number: 7555 00 00
- Current number: 465 00 00 -> New Number: 7425 00 00
Orange : Digit 9 added to the current numbers. Examples:
- Current number: 990 00 00 -> New Number: 9990 00 00
- Current number: 660 00 00 -> New Number: 9660 00 00
- Current number: 430 00 00 -> New Number: 9430 00 00
CAMTEL : Digit 2 or 3 added to the current numbers. Examples:
- Current number: 220 00 00 -> New Number: 2220 00 00
- Current number: 342 00 00 -> New Number: 3342 00 00

NO CHANGE: Cameroon country Code +237 Remains.

Services not Impacted:
- Thuraya and Inmarsat phones will work normally. Thurayas can only be used
outside (sight of satellite).
Thuraya will not work inside building as they depend on GSM network that
will be unavailable.

- Emergency numbers will continue do be available (functioning) from all
phones even during the outage as below:

From a cell phone
117 for Police
113 for Gendarmerie
118 for Fire Fighters

From a fixed phone
17 for Police
13 for Gendarmerie


Douala, Cameroon

Fritzane Kiki HK

If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake.As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes.However,we should accept critisms not to find excuses which are like asses and everyone’s got em and they all stink.

Fritzane Kiki
Hong Kong


Why get hurt because of a free lesson you are not compelled to take part? Allow those who find the piece usefull to savor it. You can´t demur that many have learned something from it.

I don´t understand what you mean here: "Each piece of writing has a context. For example, a newspaper context is totally different from a textbook context." Do you mean the English used for a news paper is different from that used in writing a text book?
"Moreover the issue at stake was not that of punctuation but one of meaning and coherency"
If the issue of punctuation is a minor one to you, let me remind you that a minor error committed by a provissional will always make news. Aren´t journalist suppose to set standards when it comes to language usage?


professional and not "provissional"

Y. Maurice Martin

Many thanks to you Mr Sam Nuvala Fonkem,

It realy shows that you are a very keen listener to Morning Safari. Your points about the ills of Morning Safari were very lodgical, diplomatic and very sound.

I will love the Morinig Safari Crew to invite you in their Program so that you can challenge them live from the point.

Yuh Maurice Martin
Tiko - Cameroon


Fon, read your last posting above and find out how many grammatical errors are in it. Just as an exampe, the beginning sentence is incorrect.

Ma Mary

Word just in that the Camerounese govt has sold its country codes and phone numbers to phone sex lines and Indian call centers. High officials have pocketed the change from those transactions.

This is a joke of course, but is a plausible scenario, since the rogues sold the web addresses to spammers.

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