Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do you speak-uh English?

English is my first language. I like it. I read English. I speak English. I write in English.

When bad English is spoken or written, my nerve endings transmit pain signals to my brain and then turn themselves inside out, creating a kind of pain implosion in my body.

I feel entitled to being exposed to good quality English [especially the English where the spellings are authentic – realise, analyse, tyre, cheque, colour, litre, etc.]

The Indian English media unfortunately does not want me to watch advertisements in which people will not say “my hairs are so soft”; to read newspapers where “I” will not appear in lowercase when referring to an individual writing in the first person; where news anchors will not come up with atrocious things like “Coalgate” for a scam.

It seems as if I am doomed to be exposed to rubbish English at every turn.

Then there are the subtitles on cable TV. You either use dashes for a curse word uttered on screen [it’s been muted anyway, so it makes no difference if you replace it - subtitling “jerk” for “son of a bitch” doesn’t work, the audience isn’t illiterate!]

To make things even more brilliant and exciting for me, there are the teenagers in this country who speak in a language that even aliens can’t decode because it is that strange. It’s some form of unpunctuated, nuance-less tripe that passes for English because, well the people speaking it have either had shit English teachers, or believe that they are the guardians of the language and all other versions are bullshit.

I could tear my hair out!

I cannot tolerate bad spelling. I cannot tolerate illogical sentence construction. I cannot tolerate language that’s been butchered because people feel that they speak the right way.

Coming as I do from a linguistically diverse country, the English that I believe in is the standardised version that ye olde colonisers gave me. I find it impossible, therefore, to account for dialects in the English spoken in India. Yes, I mess up the pronunciation just for fucks. That’s a one-off thing. I’m not a linguistic prude. But it bothers my brain when people who come from so-called good schools speak in shitty English and think they’re right. I want to give them all a lesson in grammar!

But then it occurs to me, that there is no point in it. These poor children are being taught by people who claim to know the language well. The problem is with the teachers and parents. When no one ever corrects you, then you spend your entire life thinking that your version of things is the right version. When your parents, your first language teachers, don’t correct your shitty English it's not your fault. But you are about 500 different kinds of fool/idiot for thinking grammar has no role in language and that English as a subject is a waste of time because it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things when you are an "aspiring Engineer or Doctor".

However, if you are the type that has spent its life ‘mastering’ the language, you assume that the next best thing to do with your time is to become a ‘creative writer’, following which you commit endless acts of violence against the language and murder it in ways I don’t want to get into because it’s depressing and it makes me angry. Once you are a part of the media that people are exposed to, you subconsciously correct their good English into your bad English and torture the language into a sad, miserable and painful death.

So, this is a note to say thank you murderer / butcher / horrible communicator. You've achieved with your shitty English what I hoped to achieve with my better English - linguistic domination.

I hope you accidentally fall off the roof of a building and just die. Because there is no justification for your existence.


  1. Really nice post :) The funny thing is as you said, most of them do not know they are wrong. Even if it dawns upon them, they will not be ready to accept it as well...

  2. Thanks Kenny! :) No one wants to accept they are wrong in most cases. When it comes to language, even fewer people volunteer!

  3. This one made me Lol! :) Nice going!

  4. Enjoy! ;-)

  5. Great post! Glad to see someone who believes, it is analyse, realise etc, as opposed to the plethora of "z" words that seem to bombard us now. I also hate it when colour is spelled without a "u". Kudos to you for keeping my hopes alive. I had almost given up on people. Keep it up!

  6. Ragesh - there's a lot of us who believe in authentic spellings. But the US controls us in more ways than we imagine, hence the stupid 'z' spellings. Yuck!