Here is the meaning of the word 'joyrider' that Rio popularised
ARTS & CULTURE | By Pharaoh Ochichi | September 3rd 2016
NAIROBI: The Standard and Daily Nation would use recognise rather than recognize; cheat, other than cheater; adviser, instead of advisor; theatre, and not theater etc.
In other words, they prefer the British to the American English. But owing to America’s importance in world affairs, sometimes these dailies are unsuccessful in their endeavour to achieve consistency.
Thus, for instance, ‘joyrider’ (a word in the vocabulary of the American English) achieved dominance during the just-ended Rio Olympics, with the two leading local papers carrying a number of articles in which the word featured prominently (Standard on Saturday, Aug 13; Sunday Nation, Aug 14 & 21; Daily Nation, Aug 19, 23 & 24; The Standard, Aug 23).
Some dictionaries with British links – the Oxford, Collins, Longman, Macmillan, Cambridge, COBUILD, and Chambers – define ‘joyrider’ as a person who steals a vehicle, primarily a car, and drives it crazily merely for the purpose of acquiring enjoyment. And ‘joyriding’, they add, is the act (offence) of taking someone’s motor car, without their consent, and driving it around dangerously for nothing but fun.
Given the definition cited, are there joyriders in Kenya? Many would take Kenyans to be ‘very serious’ humans; people who mean business. When a few of them snatch a machine from somebody, their objective is to sell it (as a whole unit or spare parts) to make money and escape poverty. Actually, in this part of the world, if a person steals a vehicle just to enjoy driving it around recklessly, that would be seen as sheer lunacy.
Anyway, back to the meaning of the word in focus. An American dictionary titled ‘Merriam-Webster Collegiate’, provides another meaning of the word: acting in disregard of cost or consequences. This is what the local papers usually mean whenever they use the word.
While still at it, let’s examine the following sentence. ‘The culture of joy-riders is thought to have started with the Seoul Olympics in 1988’ (Sunday Nation Aug 21, page 13). No, it should be, ‘The culture of joyriding is thought....’
One wonders whether the word (and its other forms) is open, closed (solid), or hyphenated compound. Should it be spelt joy rider, joyrider or joy-rider; joy ride, joyride or joy-ride; joy riding, joyriding or joy-riding? The solution lies with either the newspapers’ style guides or English language dictionaries.
Meanwhile, last week’s piece used the word ‘bear’ as a finite verb. The word – the manner in which it was employed – required an ‘-s’, which unfortunately was missing, thus making the sentence faulty.
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