Languages of Wilder Confusion: Keep

The simple word keep couldn’t easily be confused could it? And yet in Nigerian English it refers to storing something somewhere — putting something away.

So a friend told us about a time when a neighbourhood child came to her house and was playing with a little toy and the friend said she should keep it. It turned up again in a cupboard because the child had carefully ‘kept it’ away where they thought it might go.

Here we have the two competing definitions then:

  1. keep: to put something away where it belongs.
  2. keep: to maintain possession of something.

Just think about that every time you use keep. At least when I’m in Nigeria I have to think about it!

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