Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Indian English

This idea for this post/rant came from HawkEye's inspired post on the latest Indian fad of saying 'Pls revert back to me if there are any questions', and that too in official mails. My initial reaction upon receiving an email with the 'revert' clause was much the same. Gawd knows who began this nonsense.

Some other typical Indian English, or Indian-isms, if you please!!
  • Say me, no !! This roughly means, "please tell me".
  • He is knowing the answer, ma'am. This usage of the present continuous is one I find most irrittating, personally.
  • Convey her my greetings. Wrong, but acceptable.
  • She is my cousin-sister. Now, what the heck is a cousin-sister? Does this expression pass on the message that the cousin is especially close, or that the cousin is of female gender, or both - would somebody please tell me this ?
  • This is my co-brother. AAAAGHHHH !!
  • She is carrying. A bag of potatoes?
  • My son got cent percent in English. Talk of irony.
  • Country-Fellow !! Unforgiveable abuse !!
  • This is my would-be. I hate this usage too. Would-be what, for chrissakes ?
  • Off the light, no. Reminds me of the Queen in 'Alice in Wonderland' everytime, somehow !
I am sure you can think of plenty more. Of course, there are valid reasons for the origin of these expressions in the first place. In many of our schools, English is taught only from the IIIrd of IVth standard, which essentially means that the student is already rooted in the grammar of his or her regional language. Faced with a new language obeying an entirely different set of rules, the student opts for the easy way out - compose the sentence in the language (s)he knows, and then translate. I'd guess 'country-fellow' and 'off the light' (and many more expressions) originated this way. Doesn't explain 'revert' though !!

What gets to me most is not the incorrect usage, but rather, people defending it: 'even people in North America use English this way'. They might, but not in idiotic ways like this - they use it the way we say 'tell me, yaar'. Accept it - it's wrong English, just like its wrong Hindi, Malayalam or Tamil if somebody murders the language.

7 comments:

Sumungee Menan said...

I am a non-Indian who has been to India sevral times with the BPO Industry. I train lingustics and other processes to young Indian men and women. Man this posting was so funny to me. It was sent to me by one of my current trainees and all of it had me rolling on the floor laughing. Those sayings are so true it is not funny. I have spent so much time in India that I find myself using some of them myself, including the bobble head which I never understood till my stint in AP.

Ranjit Nair said...

Sumungee, thx a lot for the comments.

Rauf said...

Essential function of a language is to communicate

Ranjit Nair said...

Rauf, although getting the point across is important, isn't getting it across effectively as important? As I stated above, I firmly believe that a language ought to be spoken the way it was intended to be spoken - be it English, Hindi, Tamil or Malayalam.

Hawkeye said...

i am cent percent sure my cousin-sister is carrying. i say so because my co-brother said so. he is a country fellow but i asked him to convey her my greetings anyway :-)

its like scratching ur finger nails on the wall or black board.

Ranjit Nair said...

HawkEye, 'convey' should be 'say to' :). Me and a friend were, in fact, discussing this recently - whatz wrong with the word 'Tell', for chrissakes! Say to me, no ;).

Also, urs is a fab' blog, and one that I have been following from a long time - love your outspoken opinion pieces especially !.

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