That shows how insular were those Europeans who introduced literature to all of us in high school as part of our intellectual grounding and discourse.

The point, however, is this: If you mean “several times”, please say “several times”, not severally. For — let me warn again for the umpteenth time — though severally exists, it does not mean “several times”. No, severally only means “separately”, “separate(d) from”, “severed from”, “apart from”, “one after the other”, suchlike.

The adjective several and the adverb severally, then, refer to the situation of something or some idea having been severed — that is to say separated — from something else into a number of other things.


It is in that way, then, that something becomes several things, namely, a greater number of things.

What was originally just a single entity has been divided into a number of entities. What was originally just one has been severed or separated and become several things. It is important to grasp this point because the word several gives most East Africans — even those engaged in newspapers and other media — no end of grief.

Thus to sever and to severe mean to divide something into several parts. Thus the two verbs , to severe and to separate, have the same etymological root, namely, to divide into several parts.

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