Friday, June 3, 2011

Our Inglees

"Rain is falling....chama cham cham" - Rings a bell? This is the first line of a Hindi song.

Well this is the time of the year when "rain is falling". They always fall during this time of the year and soothe the thirsty soul and the weathered trees :-)

Err...did you spot anything wrong? What was that? And how many actually spotted it? A stickler for 'correct' English would thump and say "Say its raining" (Observe my audacity of missing out on that apostrophe). But its so widely and commonly accepted that the wrong becomes the new right. Is there such thing as correct usage in spoken English? How many of us do care? Is there a correct English at all? You might more often than not witness amusing statements as "Aroma is coming" and "I became pass" :-)

We aspire to learn, read, write and speak the language which our colonial rulers brought with them. Mind rules over matter, so we have 'improvised' the language with out own regional concoction  - thus bringing in Bonglish and the Tanglish and the Hinglish and the Kanglish.......Our mother tongue rules our mind, we tend to think in our native tongue and transliterate our thoughts to English. Boom! we have our own unique version with entertainment abounds when your relatives want to "see a girl" for you and finalize to "give that girl" to you. As a result you have the "photo removing" sessions :-)

Remember the advice to think in English and encouragement to learn new words and use them to improve the vocabulary while in school? Then, dont you think we would miss out on gems as "We sat there simply simply" to mean "Hum wahan baithein the chup-chupke". How often do we say "We came to know" translating from "Sunne mein aaya".

Or the sentences that arise out of a vernacular's absence of certain words. People "eat water" in Bengal. So do they eat whiskey or milk. Dont mistake a guy from Tamil Nadu as a cannibal when he says he ate "Gopi manchuri" for evening snacks. The letter P is redundant there where one gets to 'bose' for photo. 26 letters in English and few are redundant? Why not?

Its 'bhictory' to our Inglees no?


  1. Hey B,

    Nice post as usual.Like you said, all of us think in our native language and and convey our thoughts. So we actually don't speak English .We have our own versions and as far as we understand eachother I think it should be Ok.I also end up speaking my own version at times (most of the time)

    Lot of pressure in picking up the language English, but at the same time we don't speak our own language in the right manner.

    Also , just for this reason, we can't kill a language.Gradually one must pick up the language.

  2. hmm true that!
    It is something to think over..I appreciate you bringing it up :)

  3. ...and do you think we should smugly correct it when we catch such Inglees...Now in my comment above, it should be "I appreciate you for* bringing it up"...

    I think it should be done as subtly as possible! :)

    ~Silent visitor

  4. As you mentioned,we think in our native language,and its corresponding sentence in English produces comical results.

    Mostly its our laziness to check whether the word or phrase we've created is correct or not.So we get words like "wantedly(instead of purposely)" and "botheration(noun for 'bother',perhaps?)".

    Its just that we all know the mistakes,yet don't do anything to correct them.

  5. So much written about it! Mallu accent and Tallu accent and what-not.

    There is no such thing as the correct or Queen's English. Cockney accent is funnier than Indian. You should watch 'My Fair Lady'. Where ever English is used, they have their own local variety of the language.

    It would be better if we could avoid grammatical errors, but we are using an alien language.

    I know one or two foreigners who have been in Kerala for more than two decades and yet cannot speak in good Malayalam. We don't ridicule them, we say, 'oh, how beeeauuutifully you talk in Malayalam!'

  6. It's something that bothers me too! Even with all the spell checks and grammar checks we do end up writing blunders. But I guess it's because we write the same way as we speak. If we manage to get our point across, that should suffice! But I do agree, if I had a degree in queen's English, I would feel irritated too. Now in this www world, we even say "lol" to people when we are laughing out loud! Chat lingo is killing English!

  7. Very well said... but what to do we are like that only ji!! :D

  8. oh yes and what about
    Open the window let the Climate come in :)

    and Both of you three come here :)

    But i guess it has become a norm as I wouould say or hear SAMAJH AYA NA..
    thats whats important to understand what is being said not how it is being said :)


  9. Ramya,

    At the end of it all, its fine as long as people understand what you are trying to convey.
    We need correct usage in our professional lives for sure.

    Its just another language - but we are obsessed with it? See, even I wrote a post!

    Erratic Thoughts,

    Thank you :-) Yes, it should be corrected in a subtle way. Few folks dont take it in right sense. But if they accept, we should :-)


    Yeah, as its accepted, we dont care to correct. The wrong becomes right then.


    I agree, English has evolved and is evolving. There is no such thing as correct English but 'correct usage' is what I am saying. You would definitely correct someone saying "Rain is falling", isnt it?

    Haha I liked that! Yeah we tend to appreciate people who cant speak our language well.


    Exactly! We just need our ideas to be communicated and it works well for us.


    Haha we are like that only :-)


    haha. true.

  10. I love when my nani (grandmother)says-mere sar mein aaz bahut 'headache' hai..And also Kavita tum phal -fruit khati ho ya nahin ?

  11. lol @ Kavita's comment!

    Kaha koi sahi english bolta hai! par chalta hai..if they were right, then we wouldn't be having a laugh right now..just now I told you about pain too..there is no such word as Paining!

  12. And people even add e before s like e-school

  13. Though English is common in India, it is not the mother tongue. Fluency in a foreign language is not easy to achieve. But based on interacting with people from different countries, Indians have much better English. Only British, Irish, Australian, and English speaking Americans & Canadians have better English than Indians.

    A lot of times on my blog posts have mistakes. But I noticed that is due to changing the sentence and not going back to fix. Reading your written material once is helpful and I never do it - even the emails I sent. I am working to address this part but of course that requires more time...

  14. Spoken English will have its flavors based on the regional influence and hence we have -- my head is eating circles or some such nonsense. But written English, as far as possible, must be correct. I did a post on a similar topic. Perhaps, you might want to read it

  15. Very much on the point.
    But,i think we Indians are very particular about our English, compared to other nationalities of the world. Look at Russia, China, USA,Singapore and so many more

  16. I dont like the distorted version of any language..even in Hindi, now everybody uses so much of english that sometimes it is totally ridiculous to see.I prefer purity.

  17. Languages evolve around the world, continually. If you read an old English book, you may find that the language is much different from what is used now. New words, changes in grammer... it is an organic process.

  18. There is no other language that enjoys being raped , like the English language! After a while the rape becomes an ipso facto rule , so no hard feelings for the Queen and her subjects.

    Reminds me of how out of context usage of English brings fun,Many years ago when I was living in Pondicherry this Tamil room mate of mine got up suddenly from his sleep one night , shook me violently and asked , "where can I go for interval"? I was pretty gaping and inquired what he wanted. And he repeated the same .
    It was only the next morning I found that he meant where he could go to take a loo. He was copying the "Interval" display in the cinema theater. He thought interval in English was going for a loo.

  19. and what about different different people for alag alag loge ? ;)

    I know what you mean..but the core question is "is there a right English?'

    these days sms lingo has become the right English because it is hep and saves time :) Slang is in and grammar goes for a toss !

  20. kavita,

    :-) I remember the phrase "nadu(middle)-center", "water-packet thanni(water) people down here use.


    Yes! thats the fun! We have a unique language over here. Its fun that way.


    :-) Yup! My faculty in a computer institute 12 years ago...would say our ancestors were smart then. They sent their children to e-school (referring to the pronunciation of 'school')


    Yes, I dont deny it. This is just a post taking a dig at it, you might sure find so many incorrect usage in my written language as well.

    But its not acceptable to be using "Remove photos" isnt it? That silly, no? ....We are like that only :-P


    Thanks, I shall sure check. I do have logged in more thoughts on this under the category 'Languages'. Most of them are humorous, you may want to check. :-)

    Chowla sir,

    True sir, we are obsessed. And I bet our English is impeccable than the natives themselves. But it demands to be so, isnt it?


    Yes, we cant help it. Language evolves, but hope its a healthy trend.


    Exactly. "Where art thou" seems funny in present context isnt it? But translating your vernacular to English seem funny which I am afraid might not find its place as correct usage.


    Oh nay! We do enjoy that, dont we? Lol that should have shook you up for sure!

  21. If it were not so, it'd have been boring.

  22. that reminded me of an incident when my team mate asked me to type YES and I kept typing S ... it took me almost 15 mins to realize that :P
    indeed 'see a girl','u not say to me' ... is more common than the correct version :)

  23. First-wonderful blog theme.Me likes :)
    Second-really interesting post..I didn't know "we came to know" is incorrect...?
    Am one of those grammar freaks you come across sometimes & I happen to be one of those weirdos who think in English & then translate it while speaking in their mother tongue :P
    nice post :)

  24. lol... very nice... hilarious.. u always write well and this was one of it..

  25. Well written. That is why the native speakers make fun of our Hinglish...

    But many Hinglish words are finding a place in the Oxford dictionary now..

  26. Well,it makes the purpose of language if the listener understands it.
    We cannot compare our language skills with that of a native speaker.And however good we write,it would never match the spoken part of it.

    We tend to forget how bad the English speaking people can do with our own languages.They would find it difficult to pronounce every single word of ours.Not forgetting the fact that even dictionaries were written by foreigners, for us.

    We have contributed liberally to the English lexicon.Hinglish is more or less accepted.There are similar versions for other languages in the rest of the world.Have you listened to Africans speaking English?

  27. Scribby,

    Nope, there is nothing like a right english. Its just about the proper usage.
    Rain is coming is sure not one isnt it?

    Holy Lama,

    Where art thou?

    Long time, no see :-)

    Welcome back.

    Yup! if not for these, it'd have been really boring


    :-D I know, it sad but we are so used to it that we have started using them even in our professional environment.


    thanks so much and welcome here :)

    :-) Yup! I get it. I am one of those as well. I have been thinking in English and translating it to your native tongue becomes a funny process. :)


    :-) thanks dear.


    I think our way of spoken english shouldnt be made fun of. Spoken is fine as long as the message is conveyed. But when it comes to using english in a professional zone, well yes we need to watch our usage.


    Yup! But it doesnt work out when you need to use them at your work? for eg.

    I agree with you, but why should the English speak our language? Our business demands we speak their language right? Thats why we are fighting for it. If not for English, India would not be a soft power. But its degrading now, for bad. Others are picking up, the Chinese for eg.

    Yes, I have had conversations with Africans. I thought their English was legible than speaking to a Chinese, Vietnamese? At least I understood what these folks said by reading their lip movements.

  28. very nice post, thanks for the sharing..
    मेरी नयी पोस्ट पर आपका स्वागत है : Blind Devotion - स्त्री अज्ञानी ?

  29. Sachin,

    Thanks a lot


    Haha thanks :)


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!