Deciphering English

‘English is a funny language’-I have heard this term numerous times, most often by sarcastic staunch Hindi speakers and also sometimes by English teachers who say it in a very indulging kind of way, like a fond mother taking about her naughty kid. Nevertheless I agree with it. It is indeed a funny language, but with a charm of its own. Capricious & unpredictable, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth if you aren’t careful.

Going by the example of why ‘but’ & ‘put’ are never pronounced the same way, there are many other discrepancies when it comes to this language. The use of the extra ‘u’ in British English (colour/color) which MSWord ruthlessly underlines in red & the war between ‘z’ & ’s’(organization/organisation), are some examples. But what I wonder is why inspite of being perhaps the largest community of English speaking people, our version of the language is often looked down upon? An African might have fun with the language rapping away to his delight, eating half the words & spewing out the rest but if you dare to utter the ‘r’ in ‘matter’ then dude you suck!

Agreed a carrot should be called a carrot and not cabbage, but then a carrot is spelled as c-a-r-r-o-t & not c-a-b-b-a-g-e! Why spell the word as s-t-a-t-i-o-n when you want to pronounce it as stashun???! Duh! Add to it the wonderful accent these people have. ‘Can’ sounds like ‘kkhyan’ and for the love of my life I have never been able to pronounce ‘pathetic’ the way they do!

But we Indians have our share of fun mixing liberally the Devanagri phonetic version with the English one. The modified version too varies from region to region, like some old song remixed by various DJs! ‘Heir’ goes as the same way as ‘hair’ &  for the wanna-be’s ‘thank you’ involves spitting a lot on the person before you. And some words are too embarrassingly modified, like if you ask the coolie to drop your luggage in the boot of the car instead of ‘dicky’, he’ll look at you blankly.

Recently I was taught phonetics by our patient sir, who tried his best to make our tongues wiggle the way it should. The world of phonetics is another headache, it holds in itself the specific rule-no rule is permanent! There is an exception for every rule here. And that’s not desirable even for a rule bender like me. Going through the chapter makes me wonder-why do we have alphabet in various languages when phonetics already exists? I mean we could just make do with them couldn’t we?

But like any other language there’s beauty in English. A unique rhythm that curls around the words and gives meaning & emphasis to emotions. It depends on how you treat the language, with affection or scorn that determines what shape your words take.
A word by itself has no meaning, its people that give meaning to words. 


P.S: Thanks to my Be Cool i.e. Business Communication teacher for inspiring this post and also the wonderful English teachers who taught me in school :)
Do share your insight about the language that rules the world.

Comments

Sagar..... said…
hmmmm......

i believe its a thing everybody feels but you took the pain of writing it, loved it.....

well even many people u'll find who modify their accent just to sound stylish....... even that makes dis language a lot funny...
umapoems said…
Love English and also my Tamil :)
suraj said…
English definitely is a funny language.... and as for Americans who say Indians suck at English properly, must first try to win a spelling bee contest in their own country, then they can say stuff like that.

and english is the language i am most comfortable speaking, maybe because i was brought up in so many different states that i speak incorrectly in 5 different languages. and i'm afraid i'll always be confused with the enigma called - ENGLISH!!!
Rinaya said…
@Sagar: yeah rightly said, when people put on an accent they are easily caught 'coz half the words have an American touch & the rest Indian :P
@uma: I love my Odia too:)
@Suraj: Enigma indeed it is...
@computer: thanks..
xyzandme said…
English sucks..
and the people flaunting it suck even more.
focusing too much on language and neglecting the content can be dangerous.

A person not well versed in english is like a highly skilled programmer with great programming abilities but get the syntax wrong.. The end user just see the program.. not the source code.

When explaining a phenomenon in quantum physics ,pertaining very close to the workings of mother nature.. professor balakrishnan says..
" Not being able to represent nature in words isnt the failure of quantum theory, by the failure of English language.. hence we have to take to another elegant language.. that nature speaks.. Mathematics."

And I think English IS an official language of USA.. infact its the defacto national language.. The guy with the billboard is as dumb as the language itself..

P.S: I hate English or for that matter any other language..:p
xyzandme said…
correction:
Okay its just a national language.. not official
Rinaya said…
i disagree.. a language is required anyhow to share your thoughts.Agreed you are clever but if you cant figure out how to express yourself then duh! :P
And don't u talk about Maths in my blog...!!
xyzandme said…
Yes a language is required for communication.
But I dislike the status that people give to one language over other.
and the judgmental mentality of the masses when they try to equate the fluency of the language to the intellect of a person.

And there is many ways to communicate .. you may call each way as a language..
and unfortunately Math is one of them.. and if you talk abt languages.. I will be including math :p
Rinaya said…
GRRR Maths...ok
yes I agree on this part about not respecting one language while being smitten by another.That's of course uncalled for.but on the whole language is essential.
Maths isn't a language.. You still need another language to prove theorems & stuff! Ha!
xyzandme said…
math is a language..
and it doesnt require another language to prove its theorems.. it uses itself.
i dunno why do you think otherwise.
Rinaya said…
simple cos I hate Maths..
no wait
I loathe maths :P
it needs another language's help.. specially for theorems..or atleast to frame questions.. LOL
xyzandme said…
x^2+y^2=z^2
x^n+y^n=z^n ?, n>2


this is the question for fermats last theorem.
Do you see me using anything but math while framing the question?
The letters can be any other random signs .. nothing pertaining to anyother language.

the proof of this notorious theorem is highly geometrical..

no english.. or any other language whatsoever,

All math theorems can be stated likewise.. The english is just used as a translation device between nature and humans.

P.S I loathe math as well ;)
but being realistic is useful.
Rinaya said…
sheesh.. u dared bring a maths equation in my holy blog???
:O
since maths is something so few of us understand or care to understand.. its NOT a language..
i win..
and dont u bring another equation!
xyzandme said…
You will astonished to know the number of "math speakers" in the world. :p

& heres an equation for you :p


9x-7i > 9x-21u


-7i > -21u


7i < 21u


i <3 u


just kidding :p (Math aint that bad )
Sugandha said…
Even I have done something similar a long time back on my blog but this one was delightfully better and mature. I liked your presentation in this one post. Good work. :-)
Se2 said…
Oh well...english is weird..no doubt..!! but i like it...cuz it's the only language I am good at...!1

And well...my dad hates english even though he is pretty good at it..Reason: In hindi, you write the way you speak...!

True na...

And well...one more thing to add to your list of weird english pronunciation-

Poteto/Potato ( From FRIENDS) :P

Nice post, waiting for more...:)

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