Wednesday, May 18, 2005

BETTER ENGLISH THAN NEVER

Last month I called up my cousin to get some advice regarding which B-School to join. She herself has completed her MBA this year from a college in Mumbai. My father made it a point to talk to her before I talk to her, as he was adamant on one particular college and was not ready to consider anything else. So he just wanted to influence her advice. Anyways he couldn’t talk to her for long because she was conversing in English and my dad isn’t that comfortable with the Queen’s language. Then my mother talked to her about some mundane stuff like life in Mumbai, food etc. We all know how mothers are! While handing me over the phone mom said, “ She is speaking in English which I am not well versed with.” Now that was surprising because my mother converses in English very well if required. Anyways I started talking to my cousin and found out very soon why mom was feeling so deficient. Following are the few phrases that my cousin used during the conversation more than often…

“Chill Bro!”
“Chillax Dear!”
“Keep Rocking!”
“Cool it Yaar!”
“Rock it!”
“Keep your Fundas clear!”
“Just beat it!” and much more …

Was it Mumbai influence or SMS’ corruption of our language or plain Michael Jackson Effect? “Just beat it!!! Just beat it!!! Beat it!!!” I still haven’t figured it out. What kind of English was that? They never teach this in schools and people like my mother find it difficult to come in terms with this lingo. I think even The Queen herself will find it a hard nut to crack. Now this is just one facet of the conversation I had that day. Something else was also happening at the same time…

Now I am a proud PUNJABI, so I love to talk to people in my mother tongue. I don’t feel embarrassed about it. I find it really awkward to order for a cold coffee at the Local BARISTA in English. Because I know the person at the other side of the counter is a Punjabi himself. Is that what we call colonial hangover? I have nothing against English! But two Punjabis conversing in some other language when they have their own sweet Punjabi makes for a bizarre scene. I find it too strange a FAD. So when I was talking with my cousin and she was speaking in The English, I was replying in Punjabi. My mom was nudging me to speak in English. After the conversation got over I asked my mother about those unwanted nudges with a big why? A capital ‘Y’ of course!

She replied, “What your cousin will be thinking about you! You don’t know how to speak in English! She must be considering you an ignorant country bumpkin!” I retorted, “How can she think so mummy? She knows I have good communication skills! Otherwise how would you explain PI’s I cracked and me cracking all the GD’s? I just don’t like to speak in English with fellow Punjabis if not required! Its just that MOM!” But she was not ready to listen to me with her eyes piercing me. “You country bumpkin” “You DESI” I kept on thinking for a long while after that and tried to find out ways of justifying my actions.

Textbooks in Russia are in Russian. If one has to work in France one needs to learn French. It is true for many other European countries. Yes, English is the language that is important for an integrated global commerce as it is spoken in many countries so it’s a must to learn it. But how does that mean that speaking in one’s own national language or mother tongue makes you an ignorant fool? Why our educated elite thinks that conversing in Hindi or Punjabi is something only lower mortals do? As if conversing in English is a royal act! The God of Small Things is a good novel. But why is it everyone’s favourite? Just because its recognized world wide and may be its in English! How many of us have read the good Punjabi literature? Varis Shah’s HEER, Amrita Pritam’s poetry, Nanak Singh!!! Not many!!! Isn’t it? Well well these were all things I was telling to myself to justify my actions which my mom didn’t find COOL!!

Chillax folks! Don’t think too much into it! Because when once I asked my Ex that why does she like me so much she told me that she likes the way I converse in English. So take the chill pill MOM. Coz it’s BETTER ENGLISH THAN NEVER. Keep rocking guys and gals!!

12 comments:

jags said...

No If No But SIRF JATT haan?

Rohit said...

it's like a english sister..desi brother..

Murali said...

That is the reason the other countries are far ahead in technology.....

Anonymous said...

its because v r having inferiority complexes in ourselves.

parveen said...

its because v r having inferiority complexes in ourselves.

Anonymous said...

hey charan,speaking in english may not be a royal act but its definitely one of the reasons why companies are eager to outsource stuff to India rather than to China or France or Russia. And more than anything else I believe that its a language of convenience...the very fact tht u write ur blog in english explains it... :-)

Charan Deep Singh said...

well the comment before this one on my article deserves a response from me as a writer....
1.the article tried to tackle two issues- one was english speaking itself and other what kind of english is being spoken
2.the outsourcing part-well i have written somewhere that english is important for integrated global commerce,moreover english speaking people is not the only reason for BPO boom in india,the economics and cheap labour plays a bigger part in it too...
3.I agree with you that english is language of convenience and that point i have highlighted in closing part of the write up albeit in humorous way....

Raman said...

CD,

I agree with the content in this blog yaar....I appreciate it.

Karan said...

I agree with the idea that we r gettin over obsessed with english. When i go home and meet my brother n sis, i talk in my mother tongue. Other wise it feels as if u r meetin so formally. When u meet friends, without a few adjectives in local slang (abuses for the over educated) it just doesnt feel like home.

Learning and speaking English is good but lets not forget our roots. Cheers !!

Sonal Garg said...

hi charan, i have read lots and lots of amrita pritam, Rasidi ticket being one of my favs.
Now, now i read all of that literature in "Hindi"....coz i cannot read punjabi. I have read gitanjali in Hindi too. i know the flavour is not the original but still damn good. Now coming to language issue, i think it is more of standardisation and image maintenance rather than anything else when it comes to customer service. In personal interaction, ofcourse reasons are diverse...but i wud say chill out...as long as i understand what is being communicated to me, (even if it is as primitive as sign language), whats the issue?

Anonymous said...

i hate you ..you are an idiot..i am better than you

akanksha

Anonymous said...

hahaha..fooled you ..that was me. was just pulling your leg.. you know me im so silly.. i can be quite a fool sometimes..

chirantan