TODAY -

Mantriji's English no problem

Free Thinker *



"The wild domestic dogs had done the killings", the minister said.

What is wrong with this expression? I don't understand the unscrupulous mindset of our so-called experts and opinion makers, including me. They think that they know better than others, they have more knowledge of English than other citizens, they have the ego which is par excellence.

Just read the sentence carefully; you will understand the idea it carries, after all language is mainly for effective communication. We have understood what he had said, then what is the problem? For clarity let me tell you that 'wild domestic dogs' means the domestic dogs which have become dangerous and frenzied and they are the culprits (attacking and killing live stocks).

I stand here to defend our Mantriji for speaking English in the way he wants; the primary purpose of speaking is to communicate, as long as he can communicate with the people, there is no problem. The grammatical errors and pronunciation mistakes are bound to happen when a man speaks in a foreign language.

Amitabh Bachan once said, "I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, Bhairon became Baron…English is a very funny language" (Namak Halal). I agree with him to a large extent. The colonial masters taught English (their language) to the natives so that they communicate with them in their(master's) tongue.

Obviously, mistakes and even blunders are inevitable when a person converses in a foreign language. Primary purpose of imposing English learning was to strengthen better communication between the colonizers and their subjects and also for making the colonial administration easier for the colonists. Colonizers had left the country in 1947 but their language is still flourishing in this sub- continent.

Rather English is doing much better here than in its original place. Now the Original Englishmen or the native speakers of the language are hard to understand the difficult English spoken in India. For instance, "exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalist "and "my new book is more than just 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification" (Shashi Tharoor); I don't think the native speakers of English will understand, particularly the last word.

However, the Britishers are still in the habit of conquests and expansion. The most obvious example is that their dictionary is expanding like the universe; new foreign words have been inserted in every revision. The latest version of Oxford Dictionary has added more than 700 foreign words and jargons. Many terms have been picked up from this sub-continent and mainland China. Who says they have stopped conquering the world? Habits die hard!

My daughter when she was in an expensive English play school, she started speaking English without knowing ABC of the language; she did not know how to read and write but she recited English poems, sang English Rhymes, talked in English. Her aunt, now an Asst Prof. under an able administrator used to call her illiterate Englishman. I was also so surprised to see her speaking a foreign language so fluently.

Rigorously imparting English speaking is still a burden on our creches, pre-schools, schools and colleges. We still carry the white man's bias that even today those who know English are better placed in the society. Those who listen to English news and read English newspapers are treated as elites. Even the Babas and Gurus who teach in English are treated more sophisticated and knowledgeable.

In fact, we are still suffering from colonial hangover. After a few pegs of alcohol, we are very fond of speaking in English; and at the time of quarrel also we start using English language spontaneously and I really don't know why? perhaps we think, English creates a better impression and it is more convincing or more aggressive .

A grammarian or an English teacher need not necessarily be a good writer or speaker. He or She will be able to correct others but may not be able to articulate well. To be able to point out whether a sentence is grammatically right or wrong is a skill, but that does not mean that the same person will be a good orator or writer.

The F. G Fowler wrote a book, "The King's English" in the early 20th century. This book is still a marvelous guide. Forget about the Malayali Englishman of floccinaucinihilipilification fame – can you smoothly go through and comprehend thoroughly the editorials authored by our revered senior most English-daily-Editor of the State without consulting a dictionary?


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on 21 December, 2018 .


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