Showing posts with label English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English. Show all posts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

GuestSpeak: Do you speak English?

"Hey you need to improve your English"
I overheard an English speaking lad who sat right behind me, at the airport with his friend. “but you understood what I said, isn’t that more important? In any case English is not our language so I don't care about the accent" said she and burst out into giggles. I turned around to look at the girl; she must have been in mid thirties, beautiful looking girl who appeared to be a small town girl from north India. The young guy looked at her with disapproving eyes. I could make out he was  not too pleased with her reply but had no answer either and in my opinion she was absolutely right in what she had just said.
source: the internet

Often I come across people who either try to correct someone or look down upon someone who neither can’t speak English nor has an accent to spoken English. It’s surprising to see people address someone uneducated if he or she does not know English. In recent past we have seen the names of few states having been changed back to their original names and also witnessed enough bloodshed in the name of religion, there are people who are not willing to accept Hindi as their mother tongue but we do stand united on English. And that can happen only in our so called Incredible India. Surprisingly after years of freedom from foreign rule we still have not been able to come out of it actually made their stay linger on in our minds. There are several other countries that became colonies of imperial rule but India is one country that seems to have adapted to a foreign culture so well that it seems to have forgotten its own culture, values and life style .Adapting to good things about others is understandable but adaptability to a language to an extent that one feels superior to the other if one has a command over foreign language is quite surprising at least I am not able to understand.

My question to those who think knowledge of English language makes them a superior species, like American Hollywood Nigerians can have a Nollywood and India can have a Bollywood similarly if a British can have a Brit accent, so can an American an American accent why can’t an Indian have an Indian accent. Why do Indians have to be perfect in a foreign language? There are rare opportunities when one may have noticed some one laugh at the other or treat the other person as uneducated who does not have a good command over spoken Hindi for that matter any regional language. Nor have I come across a person say "I am uneducated as I don't know Hindi” but one often gets to hear "Saab padha likha nahin hoon is liye English nahin aati". I think it’s high time we Indians came out of the shadow of the British raj and feel proud as being Hindustanis.

This post is written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by Alka Narula.

You can catch some more of Alka's posts at her blogs here and here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Midnight Deceit!

The glorious language that english is, we now have politicians coining new phrases.
When Sushma Swaraj (not to be mistaken for a person who is fighting for freedom) termed the action of the Indian government to increase fuel prices nationwide as midnight deceit (sic), I think she was justing trying to make sure she gets her daily dose of headlines in the papers today.

Why do we have political parties who love to fight each other the moment they are thrown out of power?
Why do we have political parties who is dying to undo the good work (rare as it is) that its rival did when they were in power?

Like a monologue from the movie; Mars Attacks, where Jack Nicholson's character asks the alien ambassador why humans and aliens cannot coexist and live together, I ask: Why can't we have parties who can work together? Why should our politicians react to every act/decision? And most importantly, why do we take all this BS lying down?

Maybe, we just need to insist that we get paid in fuel coupons instead of money. That way, we won't have to listen to all the rhetoric every time prices increase.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Get Grammar'd

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.

—George Eliot, British poet (1819–1880)
Talk about examples that make sense!

Preparing for an professional English test recently, I had to refresh myself on English Grammar.
And I must admit I did enjoy the 'experience'!

I've been fortunate to have had an English language teacher who challenged and encouraged me to better my best, but having met and interacted with scores of graduates since, I believe the general standard of English has taken a bitter plunge. Mediocre books only make it worse

Grammar is interesting.
But like all sciences, you'd appreciate how it functions only if you'd practice it.
Having been a professional writer for well over 3 years now, learning the deeper rules of the language made me sit up and take notes.

We need better examples and a higher quality of instruction. Many of our tutors do not bother to research and are never encouraged to learn.
In a bizzare way, they believe in confusing you, if they can't convince you.

I've seen insanely thick books of grammar that accomplish half of what a concise book on the language would.
Grammar is after all not rocket science. Its just a set of rules that helps you make sense of your writing.
Learn it. Besides the wonderful and wacky examples that it gives you, you'd also learn to appreciate the language better.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Enlghaish Mangled

All credits for compiling this invaluable piece of literary massacre goes to the patient yet infinitely humorous person who kept an ear and an eye peeled open..

    * I am forwarding my marriage certificate and six children. I had seven but one died which was baptized on a half sheet of paper.
    * I am writing the welfare department to say my baby was born 2 years old. When do I get my money?
    * Mrs. Jones had not have any clothes for a year and has been visited regularly by the clergy.
    * I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why.
    * I am glad to report that my husband who is missing is dead.
    * This is my eight child. What are you going to do about it.
    * Please find for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am living with can't eat or drink until he knows.
    * I am very much annoyed to find that you have branded my son illiterate. This is a dirty lie as I was married a week before he was born.
    * In answer to your letter, I have birth to a boy weighing ten pounds: I hope this is satisfactory.
    * I am forwarding my marriage certificate and my three children; one of which is a mistake as you can see.
    * My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven't had any relief since.
    * Unless I get my husband's money pretty soon, I will be forced to lead an immortal life.
    * You have changed my little boy into a girl. Will this make any difference.
    * I have no children as my husband is a truck driver and works night and day.
    * In accordance with your instruction, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.
    * I want money as quick as I can get, so I have been in bed with doctor for two weeks and he doesn't do me any good. If things don't improve I will have to send for another doctor.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's not Plagiarism, its just 'Collective Research' !!

People who work with me and those who I communicate with frequently have lauded the way I write.

For a person who is aiming to be a bonafide writer worth his salt, I believe I have a long way to go. This belief keeps me grounded and very receptive to my critics.

Ofcourse, I have not always been as prolific or fluent as I am.
I have at one point of time, struggled with grammer. I would have been an Architect or a Scientist (following in the shoe prints of my Dad).

But for my 10th grade English Faculty, I would have languished in a lab.
I remember after a particularly tough session on 'Conjunctions', as I was hurrying towards the Physics laboratory, I bumped into the chubby frame of my English lecturer. 
Been a sufficiently chubby and suitably minute person that I was, I lost balance and bounced off the wall. 
As kids of my age, you can bully yourself through the term if you score well in your term papers.My average grades qualified me to growl at her.

Interestingly, I remember she apologised. I grinned at myself. I can get used to this, you see.
Our school tried hard to inculcate the reading habit into their wards; with moderate success.
Later that day, we had the same lecturer 'mind' us while the nerds among us buried ourselves into TinTin and Hardy Boys. I was engrossed in doing nothing. Libraries are for losers. Now I don't remember her name, but I remember what she told me at that moment. She walked over, and told me how gifted I am (Gee, I know that. Tell me something new) but knowledge should never have a saturation point. 

I don't know whether I really started reading then, but 18 years after that comment. I still recall that statement every time I hit a Writers Block.

I gravitated towards English and literature and found how much more amazing and fulfilling English is than any amount of dissection or chemical formulae.

'English is such a language which is so easy to speak incorrectly, but difficult to speak correctly'

I have been a poet, essayist and an editor since then. I have had spectacular faux paus and breath taking leaps.

If you are still wondering how the title applies. Yes, it does. 
Sometime ago, as we all do tend to forget lessons learnt. I became complacent and arrogant with my writing. 
Allow me to recollect one of my spectacular faux paus..

I happened to chance upon an advt in an extremely popular technology magazine calling for Content Writers. Needless to say, I applied. They required me to write a 1000 word article on a cell phone. Don't Copy Paste. Piece of cake, I thought.

Ofcourse, I had the article ready. Emailed it. Already confident that I would be selected, I counted my chickens before they hatched. In this case, even before the hen was born.

One week later, I get a mail from the Chief Content Editor.
A very scathing remark that read: 
'We thought when we said no copy/paste, that implied no cheating. Your article is a blatant attempt at plagiarism.'
They also sent me a copy of all the websites and the searches that I could have run to get the article. I was embarrassed beyond belief. More than that, I realised that I'd let myself down.

I have come a long way since then. Have worked for several Content Writers churning out 
articles that were uniquely researched and exquisitely written.

Yes, I do understand that this is no one's utopia, but atleast wake up and smell the BT Brinjals and the Sex Scandals, people.

Why do we forget the lessons of our past.
Why do we get so complacent?

We take pride in mediocrity. The result? We end up making a fool of ourselves in front of the world.
We take pride if we are able to cheat the system. We jump the traffic lights if we don't see a traffic cop standing round the corner. 
We cannot bear to wait for the lights to turn green, but we don't mind waiting for Sachin to hit that six or to wait in that line to catch that blockbuster.
We cannot tolerate to be treated with any less respect but dont mind making our servants - our bonded warehouse property.

We cannot tolerate Pakistan feeding terrorists, but don't mind 'poly-ticks-ians' sucking the sap out of our country.
We cannot stick to our Gandhian principals of living, because we need to give that 'bribe' to get that 'favor' done
We cannot tolerate going to war with the Pakis and the Chinese but don't mind the Shiv Senas (and like scum) dividing and ruling us.
We cannot bear to see Kashmir being invaded by the Pakis, but don't mind the Russians molesting our children in Goa.

"It's not Plagiarism, its just 'Collective Research' "
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