Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wordly Woes : English! English!!

It’s an old joke, especially in Hindi movies— “Angrez Bharat chodke chalegaye lekin angrezi yahin chodgaye.” Though we laugh at it, it’s something worth giving a thought. In no way can we deny the exposure and access we’ve gained to the world of knowledge because of this great language. But the one thing that I just don’t understand —why is the English language so confusing and complicated? Dharmendra made us all laugh in ‘Chupke Chupke’ by citing examples of how confusing English is—like the different uses of ‘u’ in the words put, but etc.

Jokes apart, it does get confusing even to those people who have learnt and grown up speaking English. Now how do we know if a particular word is Spanish or Greek or whatever? So, what we people do is we join the letters and read as it is, when we come across a new word. For ex. Lingerie, rendezvous, panache etc..I’m not talking about those who have done their Honours or Masters in English, but the ‘ordinary’ people. We do so very confidently using the words till somebody enlightens us or we get self enlightened while watching a TV show or hear somebody speaking. Till you don’t know it, it seems OK because ‘Ignorance is bliss’. 🙂 Once you come to know the actual word you turn red (years later also) thinking about how you used to pronounce it.

In India, we’ve retained the spellings of all the angrezi words as we got them from the Angrez and changed the pronunciation depending on the region we belong to, and of course according to our convenience. The South Indians have been targeted and humiliated the most for their accent and pronunciations. Being an army officer’s wife and having lived in different parts of India and having interacted with people from almost all states, I have realized that all Indians, the Gujjus, Sardars, Oriyas, Bengalis, North East people and everyone else,  have their own accents when it comes to English. So why pinpoint one set of people? Isn’t that unfair?

Last year we had gone to Malaysia and what I saw there I really liked a lot. No, I’m not talking about the beauty of that wonderful country but about their English. They have their own spellings for the English words. Just to mention a few; nasional (national), bas (bus), klinik (clinic), teksi (taxi), sentral (central) etc…, which looks so convenient. Nowadays, while sending SMSs we write den, der, dat, dese etc which sound perfectly alright. If color and gard can do well without a ‘u’, why add it at all? If light and night can still survive without gh then can’t it be lite and nite? It’s so difficult to understand why does ch in chair is not the same ch in chemistry or the same ch in chef. I know there are rules which tell what is what but who has got the time to go back to the dictionary every time? In our schools grammar is never taught fully and properly, so we are always left wondering if a certain thing is right or wrong.

I’ve never been able to understand the concept of ‘silent letters’ in English as in talk, walk, honour, heir, listen and many more. Tell me, if a letter has to be silent why have it at all? You might as well remove that letter and make the spellings easier. Just think of it, if there is no silent letter concept, then the spellings would be like this…tak, wak onor, lisen etc. It’ll be so convenient to write the same way as we read it.and also easy to remember the spellings. What say?

I really wonder why is it so confusing when it can be made simple. Can anybody tell me? Wait, let me run away from here before a strict English teacher comes after me with her stick!!!.

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