English as you like it…

I recently received the below from fellow blogger Sharell over at Diary of a White Indian Housewife.  She is unfailing in her quest to find new and intriguing Cow paraphernalia for me and this time she really nailed it!

Thanks Sharell! 😉

But this article did more than just tickle my funny bone, it also hit on a reoccurring theme here at Gori Rajkumari….Communication.  English is just a tool that we use in Communication and it is by no means the only one available.

To be honest, there are many different facets of English.  There is British English and American English.  There is also old-fashioned English and cutting edge English.  Daily English and Business English.  English you use with friends and family’s and English you use with strangers or strange people or just plain weirdo’s.

So you see, English is not set in stone…oh no my friend.  English is ala cart.  English is as you like it.

Take for example, a recent comment I received (and didn’t approve but am starting to regret it if for no other reason that it was really damn amusing):

Uhm...Wow.

Just in case you are having a hard time reading that….allow me to decompose with any delay, for to show you the exact length of what was comprised in the wording.  😛

I give birht to be familiar with the few of the articles on your website trendy, and I really like your tastefulness of blogging.  I added it to my favorites web stage list and disposition be checking promote soon.  Please contain into public notice my position as approvingly and vindicate me know what you think.  Thanks.
With love, Erotykagold.

PS:  I added the With Love part but you get the drift.

Anyway, as I was saying, we all have our own means and methods of getting across what it is we want to say.  Sometimes, even when we speak the same language, we don’t always understand one another or convey what we mean.

And for some reason, many of us either don’t take the time (or don’t have it) to understand, willfully continue to misunderstand or are too afraid to ask for a clarification even if we continue to let our brains fill in the understanding for us and we all know THAT is never a good thing.

For example:

Different Words for the Same Concept

Perhaps more problematic is that the different English variants have different words for the same concept. This extends even to the very basic things in the language like punctuation marks. For example, what UK English calls a “full stop” is in US English a “period”. What the UK calls “capital and small letters” is in the US its “upper and lowercase letters”.  “Torch”, “Dickie” and “petrol” in the UK are referred to as “flashlight”, “trunk” and “gas” in the US.

If you want what you’re saying to be understood correctly no matter which country listener comes from, it may sometimes be necessary to add explanations or analogies.

The problem for most people is NOT that they are unwilling to add explanations, it’s that most of the time, the problem is that they don’t know that other countries use different words. After all, if you have lived all your life using a particular word for that object or concept, chances are that you won’t even think twice about using it. And quite frankly, it’s impractical to search both the US and UK dictionaries every time you need to use a word, particularly since variant terms seem to occur with everyday objects and concepts rather than esoteric terms.

For example:

Same Words with Different Meaning

One word, different meanings in different countries.  This can lead to a major misunderstandings.  For example, “football” means a completely different game in the UK from the US (and the US version is quite obvious better and way cooler).  A “public school” has opposite meanings in the US and the UK.  “Brackets” in the UK refer to “(” and “)” while a number of US English speakers take it to mean the square brackets “[” and “]”.   The “first floor” in the UK is the floor above the ground level while it is understood to mean the ground level in the US.  Bear and I argued over this once and even today I will say 1st floor and he will say 2nd.

(Yes, I know. It’s a wonder we can communicate at all.)

Once again, if you are aware of such possible differences in meaning, you should either substitute with words that mean the same thing in both countries, or mention the alternative for the other variant.

Then again, there are the times when you just have to laugh over the differences:

Dearest Gori,

Happy New Year, i am happy to get in contact with you after my prayer to god for a direction to find a nice  trusted and sincere reliable friend I was motivated to write to you after seen your blog.

I am presently single, above all God-fearing boy, my dearest, in your usual time, may it please you to write me back in my email address.  So that i will explain more about myself,my details,my pictures and purpose of writing to you.Please do not neglect a humble and lonely heart that seeks your love.A good friendship is the foundation build on other relative things to come. May God bless you as i wait impatiently to hear from you.Thanks and remain blessed.  Lovingly yours Gori ~ Devanand.

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33 thoughts on “English as you like it…

  1. Hey Vahini,

    TIL GUL GHEY ANI GOAD GOAD BOL!

    Makar Sankrantichya Haardik Shubheccha!

    Oi! Didn’t that ‘tastefulness of blogging’ comment came to a blog that I ‘gave birht’ to on your blog?
    You should have ‘vindicated’ it and ‘contained into public notice’ her comment….

    Ah! That cow composition came some years ago in Marathi newspaper ‘Loksatta’ I think….

    Hmmmm…. if the ground level is the ‘first’ floor in the US, wouldn’t when you say ‘first floor’ mean ‘ground floor’ and not ‘second floor?’

    You know, Vahini, when I was in school, they were extremely strict about British English, while the new generation is steadily getting influenced by American English.
    I once got zero in an essay just because I used:-

    ‘He learned that his flat was broken into….’

    My English teacher, a tiny thing of 5 ft 2 inches, with a huge temper and loud mouth, Miss Betty, shouted loudly in my ears,
    “Young lad, we do NOT teach American English here, you should have used ‘learnt.’ That is proper English!”

    She would be quite shocked to know now, that I now have no idea which English I write.
    I just flit from American to British style, though I keep the spellings British – writing the spellings 300 times tends to make you remember them for a long time!
    Plus, I use Indian English, too.
    There have been so many exams that have been ‘pre-poned’ in my time…. 😉

    So, all in all, I use a khichdi of three different styles of English that when I mix, show their unique color while reflecting some values that I have learnt since school.

    P. S.:- Where is the moderator?

  2. In the first 55 years of operation of the Indian Railways, there were no toilets in trains. On July 2, 1909, an aggrieved Babu Okhil Chandra Sen lodged a complaint to the then Transportation Superintendent, Sahibganj. After this, the railway authorities had no other option but to introduce toilets in all lower class carriages in trains running more than 50 miles at that time. Okhil wrote this letter in his anguish. Though the letter certainly lacked the basic English grammar but it really became an important document in the history of Indian railway.

    “I arrive by passenger train in Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I therefore went to a toilet. Just I was doing that nuisance that guard makes a whistle blow for the train to go off and I am running with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I fall over and expose all my shocking to men and women on plateform. I am leaved by the train at Ahmedpur station.

    This is too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard cannot wait train for five minutes for him. I therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big reports in the papers.
    Yours faithful servant,
    OKHIL CH. SEN”

    • Thanks for that Arvind! The power of communication is an amazing one isn’t it? 🙂

      I think the difference between your example and mine is that Mr. Okhil Ch. Sen got his point across in very simple yet effective English. He may have had a few grammatical errors or expressed his discomfort in way that normally is not used (belly too much swelling with jack-fruit- classic!) but it was effective and made sense. In some ways, his use of the “belly is too much swelling with jack-fruit” was more powerful than if he had just said “needed to use the restroom”. With his way, we understand that he has to go NOW and that there is a real urgency and issue with not having a restroom available on the train.

      Either way, his use of English here would not be what I would call a poor use. It’s cohesive. It makes sense. And he didn’t try to use English words that he doesn’t know to get his point across, which even native English speakers have a tendency of doing.

      But I really love that you shared this and showed that there is a power to the simplicity of using what a person knows instead of the opposite. 🙂

  3. whats a ‘dickie’ Ive never heard that being used over here in UK so Im curious.. u relate it to trunk in US english.. do you mean a car trunk? in which case we call it a ‘boot’ 😀

    • In India, they say Dickie. I’d heard Boot before and knew that one already….which led to my total confusion when an Indian friend said he had put a package in his Dickie. :-0 <—-my face at that time. LOL

  4. This is one funny post actually 🙂 Reminds me of one famous forward “hilarious mistakes” which had gems from essays and testpapers of American students.
    http://meandmythinkingcap.blogspot.com/2010/07/from-old-fwd-still-funny-to-read.html

    I cant speak hindi and during my childhood days, the usuage of “kaal” in hindi always made me wonder whether these hindi speaking folks made timetravel on daily basis.
    P.S. “Kaal” – means yesterday as well as tommorrow in hindi 🙂

    • My favorite was when I learned the meaning for what sounds like “Sushi” in Hindi. EWWWWWWWWWW! hahahahah

      Thanks for the link! Oxygin is pure gin. CLASSIC!

      Seriously? Kaal means tomorrow as well??? That’s almost as bad a Aloha! You don’t know if your coming or going! 😉

  5. I had a similar post on this sometime ago -> http://jestingjousts.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/english-words-–-right-wrong-and-‘inglish’.

    The ‘outside’ is an oft repeated cliche in our household 🙂

    But American ‘football’? Come on! Doesn’t it bother anyone that the only time the foot comes into play is when the punter or the kicker kicks it, which wouldn’t even total a minute of playing time, out of the 60 available. Ridiculous!
    (All said in humour [yeah, ‘humor’!])

    Happy New Year!

    • Ahem….Krishanu….because American Football rules and all else drools. 😀 hehehe Or…as I like to tell Bear and his best friend soccer loving friend “Football is a game for manly men and Soccer is for the namby pamby school girls who like to drop on the ground clutching their shins whenever someone breathes on them.” 😀 😀 😀 😀 hahahahah Oh the fun that happens then. I’m not loved during Liverpool and ManU games, I can tell you that.

      Anyway….

      For further information as to why we call it Football when we rarely use our feet to hit the ball, see the following link: http://rootzoo.com/articles/view/Sports-History/General/Why-is-football-called-football…and-how-we-got-soccer._5419 (good luck on deciphering it….it was a bit over my head….when it comes to sports I just know “Me like, hit again.” 🙂 )

      It’s so funny, that word ‘outside’, I used it last night when Bear asked where his cell phone was. He gave me the funniest look and I finally had to clarify with “in the HALL!!!” to which he replied “If something is outside then how can it be in the hall?” to which I replied “Because it is not in the room which we are currently occupying and therefore is outside of our current location you giant enormous pooter-headed brat.” (giant enormous pooter-headed brat is a term of endearment in our house) to which he replied “So why didn’t you just say that it was in the hall?” to which I replied “Because I was being lazy and didn’t want to say a big sentence like “It’s out in the hall”!!!” to which he replied “Yeah, but now because you had to clarify it you’ve had to say way more words than just “It’s out in the hall” so….” to which I interjected with “Just shut up before I beat you silly.”

      🙂 Aren’t words FUN?????

  6. This is one funny post actually 🙂 Reminds me of one famous forward “hilarious mistakes” which had gems from essays and testpapers of American students.
    http://meandmythinkingcap.blogspot.com/2010/07/from-old-fwd-still-funny-to-read.html

    I cant speak hindi and during my childhood days, the usuage of “kaal” in hindi always made me wondered where these hindi speaking folks make timetravel on daily basis.
    P.S. “Kaal” – means yesterday as well as tommorrow in hindi 🙂

  7. Ha! SO funny! I used to teach a course for students who were new to English, and at least this reads more clearly than the papers I that had clearly been sent through translation websites. Many of the sentences about the cow actually contain a verb and a noun, which is a start. I guess I always thought that gendered pronouns were easier to keep track of than gendered nouns, but I guess if you’re not used to it it can be difficult.

    @Jamily-Don’t get me started on “outside.” That one trips me up at least a few times a day. Just the other night we had this conversation: “WHere is the dog?” “Outside.” “Outside! At this time of night? Why did you let her out?” “No, outside in the living room.” “Ugh.” Also, people use it to refer to living anywhere else besides India. I was once introduced to someone as, “this is so-and-so. She has just come from outside.” To which I replied, “No I was only in the kitchen.” Ha!

    Another one that trips me up is “keep.” The usage is not that different, but just enough to cause confusion. I had this conversation with an old auntie after she handed me a towel. “Keep it.” “No, thank you. It’s yours, I can’t take it.” “Keep it properly in the kitchen.” “Oh. I get it.”

    Those are just used a little differently, and since they are used consistently they are easy enough to make sense of–even for someone from ‘outside.’ The ones that actually bother me are the truly ungrammatical ones like “too less” and “more less.” There is also “more lesser.” Whenever I hear that, my inner teacher wants to take out a red pen and write “you can have ‘too few’ or ‘too little.'” But I hear things Americans say that make me want to reach for the red pen as well. I think Mr. 4B just goes around saying “too less” but it annoys me.

    • Oh God the gendered pronouns…My A almost always uses them wrong, it can be pretty funny/frustrating! And he loves to use gendered pronouns on non-gendered things, ie whenever he refers to America he says “She.”

      • Thankfully….Bear doesn’t do that very often when he speaks English. However, he does have his moments and I’m fairly certain they are all used to engineer frustration in me. 🙂 hehehe

      • Its because its unusual for us native Hindi/Urdu/Marathi/Gujrati speakers to have a noun/pronoun that does not have a gender.

        Actually, I feel guilty when I refer to India, USA in the third gender! 😮

    • Oh my God! I laughed out loud when I read:

      Another one that trips me up is “keep.” The usage is not that different, but just enough to cause confusion. I had this conversation with an old auntie after she handed me a towel. “Keep it.” “No, thank you. It’s yours, I can’t take it.” “Keep it properly in the kitchen.” “Oh. I get it.”

      Too hilarious!!! I’ve done that myself with Bear’s Aai. We were putting away Sari’s of her’s after a function and there is one of her’s that I really admire and the whole family knows it. I asked her where I should put it and she said “Keep it” pointing in my general direction. I was all gushy plushy (and internally happy) but said pretty much the same as what you said “Nooo, Aai, this is your Sari, I can’t take it!” and she just looked at me funny, walked around me and opened the cabinet and pointed to a drawer saying “keep it”. Oh. hahahahahhahhahaha

  8. Hey, I, as a blind person don’t get facial expressions and body language; so it’s lost on me, also.
    I know about it intellectually, but what is the use when i can’t use it to understand things.

    jokes are usually taken too seriously and even my tone is many times misinterpretted.

    • Jamily5, my best friend (Laura) growing up was nearly deaf and a friend of her’s was blind (Janey). Janey used to tell us that if we were being sarcastic when joking she had a hard time knowing it. She really had to learn hard to listen to peoples voices and inflections to get it down and even then it only worked with people she knew so she could tell the difference in voice fluctuations. Laura had the same issues in that she couldn’t hear nuances of voice so when she tried her hand at sarcasm it never quite worked for her. I got her because she was my best friend and I understood her….but other people who didn’t take the time to know her just didn’t get her jokes at all. So I understand what you mean.

  9. Hi aurora,
    “chips,” “Biscuits,” and “Rubber,” have different meanings and can make for some interesting conversations.

    Last night’s conversation:
    “Where did you put the nls book reader?”
    “Outside.”
    “Outside? Why outside, that is not the place for electronics!?”
    then, I remembered that ‘outside’ meant outside the bedroom, not ‘outdoors’.
    I can’t think of others, now, but i know that there are many.

    • Hahahaha Rubber! Soooooooo many places we could go with that! Shoe rubbers here people….shoe rubbers!!! 😉

      • What’s the problem with rubbers, Your Ladyship?

        Children all over India begin their school and kindergartens with a nice long pencil and a little rubber on top.

        In fact, I used to use them so much that by Fourth Grade, I had to buy large packets of extra-large rubbers.
        Even my friends were jealous of my long pencils and extra-large rubbers.

        So, I fail to understand what’s so funny about rubbers? 😮

        Please, Aurora Vahini, explain to me! 😛

        What’s the mystery about Indian Rubbers? 😛

        (GOD! Can’t stop laughing!)

  10. Hah! And I just wrote to you about communication. Oh the fights that have ensued over not understanding the capabilities of the English language. If there is one thing I have learned through this relationship, its that English is extremely complex and nuanced. You haven’t even addressed tone and irony, things that escape my partner all the time.

    • Oh yes….tone, attitude, sarcasm, facial expression, body language, irony….truly…there should be classes on this stuff. I mean seriously…how often do you use trigonometry? I say toss it out and replace it with Communication Skills. 😉

  11. The IAS article really is a hilarious piece . yeah British English is akin to Indian English and it really pisses me when few people ask me I am writing English when I write my script
    padma

    • Next time ask them what English THEY write in? 😉 “Now….is that Gangsta English or Southern English or California English? Because if you are writing in California English then, like, you totally didn’t like use enough likes in that sentence okkkkkkkkk?” hehehehe

  12. Pingback: Tweets that mention English as you like it… « Gori Rajkumari -- Topsy.com

    • Hahahahaha! Nooooo….but if you’re that interested I’d be happy to forward it on to you! 😉 😛 Perhaps if I sent him links for Match.com or PlentyOFish? heheheheh

      • I just got an email with almost exactly the same wording as Devanand. I think it must be a computer scam somehow. Everything from “So that I will explain” on is exactly the same words, but I think the sign-off was different.

      • I think you’re right….I’m fairly certain new hackers also use this ‘formula’ when starting off hence the difference in wording. I was thinking of writing back saying “Dear Devanand, we can never be as I am the spawn of Satan and your Daddy and my Daddy are having this huge fight, also I’m a cannibal so you wouldn’t last that long…….” 😀 Muahahahahhahaha.

      • Hahahah, you have an awesome sense of humor. It would be fantastic to write that back, I just worry that somehow any response is going to give me a virus or something! I don’t know why people think that phrasing is appealing, maybe we’d write back because we feel sorry for the person?

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