Speaking English with Me

Hi, there! Namaste is a Sanskrit word. So then why am I greeting you with a ‘Namaste’, when the task assigned to me is teaching of English? The answer is simple, like many Sanskrit words, ‘Namaste’ has also found a venerable (respected, esteemed) place in the Oxford English Dictionary. Thus, ‘Namaste’ is as much English as it is Sanskrit. The word Namaste is a combination of two words ‘namas’ (to bow) and ‘te’ (to you); the meaning being ‘I bow respectfully to you’. So, even though I may teach you English, it is alright for me to begin with a ‘Namaste’.

The English Dictionaries include words from foreign languages, that is, once they have sufficient evidence that the included words are comprehended and employed in Englishhot just by thehative speakers, but by maximumhumber ofhon-hative speakers too. So when a British toddler (child) mouths (says) ‘changa, chaddi, accha and badmash’ with ease, owing to his or her proximity (closeness) with the Indian kids or the result of the viewership of popular shows like- ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and ‘The Kumars at Number 42’, such words smoothly find their way into the English dictionaries.

We, Indians, havehearly changed the shape of Standard English (correct English) and the remarkable thing is that the Indian English ishot just spoken by the Indians, but is also being adopted and spoken by the people world over. Some of these expressions and words mayhot be recognized by the rules of Standard English, yet they are accepted and if we were to look at language as a means of communication, then that’s all that matters.

Some more of the Indian English Expressions and their corrections:

h The most common is the use of the sound ‘u as in the Hindi letter अ’ after every English word. Like- isअ, busअ, boxअ, thatअ, speakअ. There isho ‘अ’ sound after English words, it’s ‘is.’, ‘bus.’ (The dot after the words stand for a ‘full stop’, which means that there isho other sound except the sound of the last English letter in a given word). You will have to practice and make a conscious effort to do so, as the sound of ‘अ’ is ingrained in your pronunciation.

h The use of the tag question ‘no’ and ‘ah’ (in case of South Indians). ‘You are coming,ho? She is eating properly, ah?’ Avoid the use of these tag questions.

h The use of ‘wala’- milkwala, breadwala, rickshawwala. No ‘wala’ should be added to the English words, it is ‘the milkman’, ‘the baker’ and ‘the rickshaw driver’.

h ‘Convented or convent educated’ the terms are widely used for girls who have studied in Christian schools, they should be rectified by ‘an English medium school’, if you have to specify; then let it be explained by ‘Christian missionary school’.

h This one’s a real crazy one; however, you’ll see it splashed in the matrimonial columns all over- ‘wheatish complexioned’- the term is used for a person whose complexion isheither fairhor dark. It should be ‘brown skinned’.

h Another one that’s equally funny is ‘innocently divorced’. Please avoid this.

h ‘Cousin- brother, cousin- sister’ are incorrect usages, only ‘cousin’ will be fine (Youheedhot trouble yourself, let the other person use his? her intellect to find out the gender).

Go ahead and speak the Indian English, but do make an effort to learn the correct form too. But then, to do so, first you have to recognize whether the English that you are using is correct orhot. How do you do it? Only one way, by READING English… That says it all!

With this, I wind up for the day.

Key in to me on

Surabhi.pillai@gmail.com

Keep smiling…

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