Wednesday, August 03, 2005

English as she is spoke

I was reading Narayanan sir's blog on Spoken English. And that started me off on this subject.

First of all, I am not an expert. But I am willing to learn. I have always been fascinated by the written word. Provided, they make sense. Majority of the people who speak English (that includes me) make very common mistakes when they do so. My problem is that I think faster than I speak and end up stuttering and tripping up. I can control better when I write. We can always check and re-check what we have written and correct ourselves.

English, we don't realize this, has many dialects. There is Americanese (within which we have Bostonese, hickish, Texan, etc), Hinglish, Thanglish/Tamlish, and countless others. This language has withstood the ravages of time because of its ability to adapt. How many of us know that English evolved from old German! The dictionaries are constantly being updated with new and borrowed words. That by itself makes this language a great one.

When writing, certain gaffes seem to be native to the country it belongs to. How many Tamilians use "can" and "able" in the same sentence? I don't think I have heard this from any other community. Most Hinglish speakers, add that ubiquitous "no" to turn a statement into a question. And they also add a rhyme to words, like chai-wai, etc. I knew a Punjabi girl who visited my house, saw the big stuffed toy lion in the corner, and said, wow, what a big loin, yaar!

To truly globalize what you write, it is important to get rid of such regional errors. The best way to do that, is to read, read and some more. The more widely read we are, the better we are able to write. I look at what I wrote a few years back and can plainly see that if I had to rewrite that now, I probably can do a better job. My problem is, I don't like to rewrite - too lazy :-)

Call me a snob, but I cannot read something if it is poorly formed. I am always picking on technical docs that I have to read. I can't help it, they call out to me ;-) But I have learnt to not be too vocal about them though.

So, if you find a bug in this blog, do let me know ;-)


Balaji said...

nicely said. that line about the diff. between speaking and writing is so true. i love writing a lot more than speaking precisely for that reason :)
and i'm one of those who nitpicks about grammatical errors in docs too :)

Kaps said...

with the increasing influence of chats and SMS style lingo, I don't have much hope that written English will improve a lot. it is upto the respective individual to ensure that he/she puts in that extra effort to write good english.

there have been many reports saying that Hinglish will be the largest spoken version of English in the near future.

after taking up blogging, i seriously feel that i should hv paid more attention to English lessons in school.

Arvind said...

In many cases, the problem boils down to, whether you think in the language you speak.

You can think in your mother tongue and 'apply' english to it ;)

There are two things that i'd like to refer here.

1) Ofcourse, is a related blog from my site hee hee

2) Dilbert - Manager says "I think in so many different languages. I have to learn the languages to understand what i think" and will be thinking 'croissant' :-))))