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Having Died Fighting Gallantly!

SAMPLE 1: 'But responding to the reaction the statement credited to him has generated, Odumosu said it is only when investigation was completed that it could be ascertained whether the dead policeman was a cultist or not, but that, in the meantime, the force would give him a befitting burial haven died fighting 'gallantly'.('Native and Settler Cults' in Battle for Supremacy, Sunday Vanguard, 18 February, 2019)

I draw readers' attention to the lexeme haven which occurs in the structure: 'haven died fighting gallantly.' We have deliberately refrained from calling that lexeme a word because it is almost lexically and semantically worthless in the context in which the writer thrusts it upon the reader.

It does bear a resemblance to two words: haven't and having. (By a strange coincidence, this lexeme is identical to the word haven. We shall come to this point much later.) However, the resemblance to haven't seems to be more striking than that to having even though, as we shall see shortly, the ludicrous coinage has actually taken the legitimate syntactic slot of the latter (having). The word offered by the reporter may actually be a cross, if we are permitted to speak in genetic terms, between having and haven't, a feat subliminally achieved. Of course this is an attempt to capture the workings of his mind particularly when he wrote this aspect of the report.

Meanwhile, let us note that the word haven't is the contracted form of have not, a contraction usually used in conversation. The following sentences illustrate the usage of that form: 1) She feels the boys haven't had sufficient experience to play that role. 2) The police haven't identified the culprit yet. 3) We haven't reached that stage yet. 4) Members haven't agreed on a common position. 5) Traders haven't decided to reduce their prices. 6) The debts haven't reached an embarrassing level yet. 7) I haven't seen any positive change in the attitude of the boys. 8) I haven't made up my mind on the matter. 9) We haven't seen anything of this magnitude before now. 10) The items haven't arrived yet.

Readers should please note that the form haven't is invariably followed by a past participle. This is because the construction involved is a perfect tense. To remind ourselves, the perfect tense is of the structure: have/has/had plus a past participle.

When the subject is in the third person singular, the form haven't becomes hasn't. Please read the following sentences: 1) The work hasn't progressed to the satisfaction of the Managing Director. 2) The proposal hasn't solved any problem. 3) The workshop hasn't commenced yet. 4) The witness hasn't made any significant confession. 5) The business hasn't been planned on a grand scale. 6) The government hasn't declared its position yet. 7) The Manager hasn't raised anybody's hope. 8) The lady hasn't seen any need to be part of the programme. 9) The committee hasn't come up with any comprehensive proposal. 10) The moon hasn't been sighted yet.

The past form of both haven't and hasn't is hadn't. Now read the following sentences: 1) She hadn't seen any need to have a job before her husband died. 2) We hadn't quite overcome the shock when another devastating incident occurred. 3) He hadn't known the other lady when he got married. 4) The result of the School Certificate Exam hadn't been released when he secured admission to the university. 5) He hadn't got the banking job before he secured his visa. 6) I was told the accountant hadn't written the cheque. 7) It was reported that the young man hadn't taken up the offer. 8) She hadn't thought of any solution before you gave the suggestion. 9) The new manager hadn't assumed duty when another manager was sent from the head office. 10) He hadn't seen the doctor before he passed out.

The word that the context under consideration requires is having. It is the participial form of have. The most common structure in which it occurs is the participial phrase/clause. To illustrate how participial phrases/clauses are constructed using the present participle having, we will provide two sentences and then proceed to fuse them into a single sentence, with one of the original sentences converted into a participial clause/phrase.

1a) He beat up his wife. b) He went to report the case to the police: Having beaten up his wife, he went to report the case to the police. 2a) He read the report. b) He began to prepare his brief: Having read the report, he began to prepare his brief. 3a) She took the patient's temperature. b) She wrote a comprehensive prescription: Having taken the patient's temperature, she wrote a comprehensive prescription.

4a) He misappropriated public funds. b) He was sentenced to six years in prison: Having misappropriated public funds, he was sentenced to six years in prison. 5a) Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom for three and a half years. b) He was killed by Jewish leaders: Having preached the gospel of the Kingdom for three and a half years, Jesus was killed by Jewish leaders. 6a) The company opened offices in the major zones of the federation. b) It appointed managers for the zones: Having opened offices in the major zones of the federation, the company appointed managers for the zones. 7a) He saved enough money. b) He started his own business: Having saved enough money, he started his own business. 8a) He lost all his money to fraudsters. b) He is reduced to begging: Having lost all his money to fraudsters, he is reduced to begging. 9a) He missed great opportunities to make money. b) He now lives in grinding poverty: Having missed great opportunities to make money, he now lives in grinding poverty. 10a) The governor spent his first term building roads and bridges. b) He is set to provide clean water for the people: Having spent his first term building roads and bridges, the governor is now set to provide clean water for the people.

Readers have probably noticed that the present participle having is invariably followed by a past participle. It in fact behaves like the perfect tense structure already illustrated in this discussion.

As we have pointed out, the appropriate word for the context is having and not haven.

But there is another word mentioned earlier in this discussion. The word is haven. This word has nothing to do whatsoever with having or haven't and is not even remotely connected with the context in which either occurs. The word haven (please look up the pronunciation in a good dictionary) conveys the idea of a safe, secure and comfortable place for people or animals.

The following sentences illustrate the usage of the word: 1) The international community is trying to ensure there are no more havens for public treasury looters. 2) The hotel has a reputation for being a haven for criminals of all kinds. 3) Oases are God-made havens for travellers in the desert. 4) All hotels advertise themselves as havens for travellers and leisure-seekers. 5) Cities and towns that used to be havens for citizens from all over the country have now been ravaged by the activities of insurgents. 6) Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) are in search of havens outside the places that used to be their homes. 7) Enclosures under flyovers used to be havens for criminals and vagrants. 8) His home is a haven for the poor and the underprivileged. 9) Dirty environments and stagnant waters are havens for mosquitoes. 10) The newly established institution promises to be a haven for hundreds of homeless children. 11) God's heaven is the haven for godly men and women.

The structure should read: 'having died fighting gallantly.' But there is another issue here-that of hanging/dangling/unrelated participle-which will require another lengthy discussion. That, however, is a subject for another day. For now, readers are advised to pay attention to the difference among: haven't, having, and haven.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Mar 3, 2019
Words:1487
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