Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Does English Have To Die Like This?


Certain characters and sentences might have strange resemblance to real people. The blogger does not aim at maligning the people concerned. This is a post where I voice my views against the murder of English. 
I draw inspiration from real people and incidents.

The other day, a friend was going through my posts. I was getting a stream of comments, and one of those, triggered this post. It was "I hate people, who can't read or write Tamil properly!". Fair enough, am not contesting it.  I know for a fact that I can't read or write Tamil. Not even my name. It's a shame, taking into account; I am Tamil, tam-brahm at that. I can only speak my language. It looks really bad when I am asked to mention my proficiency in languages, I say English: Read, write, speak. Hindi; Read, write, speak. Tamil; Speak only. The discussion then moved onto, blogging, my posts, and ultimately English. 

This brings us to the topic on hand: "Why does English Have To Die Like This"

If not knowing how to read or write in your mother tongue is a thing to be ashamed of; then not knowing how to write or speak in your medium of instruction is a bigger and better shame. Am not doing, an Anniyani here. But this is to voice my disgust against the people who mutilate the language with, wrong spellings, bad grammar. The worst of the maladies is shortening of words.

Soms, asked me to check a testimonial written for somebody. Am not going to comment on it, you can read it for yourself. 

"QUEEN OF DIFFERENCE....... her taste in nything is exquisite n a rare blend of trend n variety..... i admire the collections n her composed demeanor.....  a gourmet n a hardworker to the core....

Does this lady, know the meaning of gourmet? What does the word have to do here?  Collection of what? - Lingerie?

Spelling and Grammar: Shruti, ragam and talam are the foundations of music. Mangling any of these will not be taken lightly. When all these are in place, your music sounds divine. Likewise, grammar and spellings are the very foundations on which any language is built. Lacking in any of these is bound to raise eyebrows and invite brickbats. 

Eg: Our College being liberal da, other college won’t allow jeans. I was startled at this very statement. Have you people forgotten you school grammar lessons? I'd say SSN was liberal in admitting you.

Spelling errors can always be corrected. Use Google chrome when you chat. Every time you misspell a word, it makes a red mark. Use that option diligently. You will improve. If you continue to misspell them on purpose, God save you!

Improper Usage of words: 

I would be doing at my home. It is "At home". When you say home, it refers to your home. There is no need to make a special mention that it is yours. There is a subtle difference between; past present and future tense. You lie down on your bed. You don’t lie on it, you lie "down" on it.  The best of all "We need not to search". Please don't kill me!! 

I can help you in this aspect. I shall lend you my well worn copy of Wren&Martin's English grammar book. Since there are too many of you in this league. I'll take the trouble of taking mini-photo copies. Big books are a big turn-off, especially when you like things small.

Shortening words:   This is the worst of all.  It all started off with Instant messaging and SMSing. Look around and all you can see is this.  Words shortened and screwed. I've heard from people that it saves a lot of time.  In the process it becomes an inseparable part of your personality. I used to type like this until I realised how dumb and immature it was. It is not COOL, it is stupid!  

Make it full make it complete:  

There is nothing in this world that can beat long, lovely descriptive sentences. Correct in grammar and spellings with no interspersed SMS lingo. Imagine Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice in SMS lingo. Ayn Rand's fountainhead in bad grammar. Am sure Howard would die if he read our works today. No amount of reading novels and journals will help you, if you refuse to take corrective actions. Quoting Soms: "How long does it take to add a couple of letters to complete the word?"

If Written is religion; Verbal is God:  This one is self-explanatory. How you write is a direct reflection of how you speak. I am referring to an individual's distinctive speaking style here. When you cannot write proper sentences I doubt your ability to speak sense.  A prof in my college told me this when I entered the lab when the University exam was going on. "You will come in as such ah ma? University going"  I was appalled by his statement. It took me a couple of mintues to figure out that he was doing a literal translation from Tamil to English. As such-meaning Appdiye. University going- nadakardu! :P Nadakardhu is literally walking. So shouldn't the sentence be "university walking instead?" Please correct me if I am wrong. 

How to: Make a very true to yourself effort to change. Stop cutting short words. Treat them well. Buy my mini version of Wren&Martin. Put it to best use. Get in touch with people who speak good English. Try to emulate them, no copying business! Improve written communication. Use the spell check option and don't forget the punctuations. 

Now that I have given you a Ramayan on why you should speak, read, and write well. I'll give you the advantages. 

It creates a great first impression. It gives them an impression that you are well groomed even if you are not. Now you know why people lay so much importance on communication skills. You can feel good about yourself. When you have your own distinctive style, it makes you feel different. Thus you stand out in a crowd.


Quoting my Director's most famous statement "You can only, take the horse to the pond. You cannot make it drink". Only if you make a very conscious effort to change, any thesaurus or my mini-photocopied, Wren & Martin would be useful.

The whole concept now makes me wonder... Did the British free us, thanks to our non-violent freedom struggle or because of our Angrez abilities.. (This is also a means of non-violent struggle)


Sowmi said...

Good one and I am inspired! wow!!!

Radheshyam said...

The sms lingo sure does affect your english especially while writing. i use things like "ur" & "wer" for "your" and "where" respectively. The post has a very sarcastic note to it. Overall- a nice post.

Soms said...

Yes thankyou for taking so seriously this here situation I feel very strongly about. Also, I wish you'd said something about the punctuation, you know about the apostrophes and its (no not it's :|)cousins. That my friend is another losing war we're fighting :)

Priyadarshini M said...

hey!! brilliant article!! laughed my head off at the testimonial part..hehe.. i totally agree and seriously believe that people should "mind their language"..!! lol :D

Darshan said...

Looks like you are pissed off with most of them internet junkies !! Hmmm .. valid reason to get enraged .. but i must confess that I too get lazy at times.

Nevertheless, a good post. And I am getting this feeling that your blog is becoming one big complaint box ! ! :D

abhishek said...

Interesting post...did wren & martin offer u an internship:D

Anyway,being the confused president of "afro-southindian-pseudo,punjabidesi community" i think i'am qualified enough to comment..
Language is for communicating ideas,so i dont see any difference between "u" and "you" just simplifies things .Usage of sms lingos in exams...hmm...well,we can save time and maybe save a rainforest by reducing the amount of pages we(not me)write .
there is something called evolution and i think english is evolving(as always,for good)...if you dont believe in evolution of language why dont you use :thee,thou,thy
.I wish i could travel back in time and show the jutes,angles and saxons ur post...i can very well imagine them saying Hwæt!(what!!)

Say hi to Wren&Martin Uncle... :D

Manee said...

Nan Thittinadhuku Ivlo periya punishment ah? :P

Manee said...

Is it Anniyani or Anniyii?? :P

munchkin said...

Anyways my take on it is a bit different.I agree English is a way of communicating and stuff but one should understand that not many of them are given that exposure to the language. If you feel people are making mistake grammatically while they talk, i insist it's our responsibility to correct rather than ridicule them.

The person who has written that testimonial would have wanted to write an interesting one which would appeal her friend and others. She is not aware of her careless mistake i presume. May be she is a kid or may be she has done her education in Tamil medium and is trying to improve her English.

According to me, the Chinese or the Japanese refuse to learn other languages, but yet they have found a place in the technology, in fact they are much advanced than us in a lot of things. But recently I hear even they have started learning the language and trying to adapt to the necessary change.

I completely agree to the part where you say, people are trying to shorten the words and all. I have taken a great effort to avoid using sms lingo in this comment. :D

And about your prof, dont you feel, he must not have undergone English medium education? On the contrary I feel he might laugh at our Tamil.

I feel if a person is able to communicate their thoughts appropriately it is more than enough. If we are aware of their mistakes and find it difficult to take the suicide of the language then it is our duty to correct them.

I guess from your blog I think you are asking people to amend their mistakes consciously which is very true. I know a few people who make constant mistakes while speaking but refuse to correct them.

p.s. I still get confused where to place a noun in a sentence some times :D If you could help me it would be of gr8(oops)-great help. :D

Vedha said...

well, this is just the desi way of taking revenge on the British.
The British killed our nation.
We are killing their language.
Big deal.

Amisha said...

Talking about English, I've had my stint with the shorthand menus (in typing... I know no one learns all that now), SMS Lingo, Slangs etc. I myself m gud @ SMS but restrict it to my mobile, after all the readers don't care about the spellings anyways. However, this does not take away the fact that wrong usage of Grammar in any language can only lead to disasters... not for the user but for the one on the receiving end.

I know someone who's a Grammar Police and I appreciate that but you know how it can pinch you sometimes. One of our common friends gave our Grammar Police a birthday card which was purposely filled with spelling mistakes. What a fantastic idea to take a revenge I say!

On a serious note, even I don't like people who speak wrong English/Hindi (which I love from my core) but then again like Mrs. Sudha Narayan Murthy says (quoted in her book, Wise and Otherwise)"It is immaterial what the language or spelling is till the time the person is able to express himself, as expressing is every human's right". (the quote is not the same as in the book but bears the same meaning and interpretation). I liked the thought and hence started forgiving the murderers of languages. However I still pray that such humans only trash the language verbally and never write books or else may God help the readers!

Venky said...

i have some problems.
English is just a language.
language is used
to communicate what u want to say
English is spoken in many parts of the world but it is not the same.
for example there is a way
the Aussies, Americans, brits, irish, scots, South africans
speak. Each are distinctive
even Indian english
has its place and the short
language thing well if ur able convey what you want in such an easy way y do it the hard way.

all said and done i do agree that the dialect is not pleasant to hear though ;)