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Apr 19, 2019

English - The Funny Language!

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By Chaitra Rao, Bangalore [ Published Date: November 12, 2009 ]

English is a very funny language -- I've been thinking of this subject for a while now but what gives me the momentum to write this is a trivial incident that happened one evening when I was in my hometown.

There was a salesman at the door trying to sell an Atlas. My mom told him that we already have one, to which the salesman asked 'Ma'am, how much pages are there in the Atlas?'  My mom narrated this to me, the crux of the narration being the salesman did not make appropriate usage of the English language - he said 'How much pages?' instead of 'How many?' And my mother kind of sympathises with the poor fellow for this.

Off late I've seen some newspapers publishing funny signboards with incorrect English. There is a shop that read 'CUTIONS' for cushions. The menu card in my office cafeteria reads 'Panner' for paneer, 'Shak' for shake and 'Fried Rise' for you know what (no prizes for guessing that one).  Sure sounds funny and I certainly had a hearty laugh but ever wondered who are the people who have actually written these wonder-words? 

They are probably people who have never even stepped into school but have certainly made an effort to learn this 'funny' language.  That for me is amazing.  I do not deny not having made fun of these errors, but believe me I have begun to appreciate the effort.  Hats off to them.  Moreover, they do not have the luxury of a spell check that MS provides.

The point is, not everyone is lucky enough to have gone to the best of schools or has had an opportunity to master the English language.  But one has to take note of the fact that this does not deter them from making an attempt.  And come on, how many of us who boast of our language skills or have gone to good schools have never said something incorrect like 'Off the light', or 'deers' or 'hairs' or 'furnitures' or 'sheeps' and the list goes on.  I once said 'flied' and almost bit my tongue when I realized.  I could get defensive and say it was just a slip of the tongue or go to the extent of saying I was drunk but the truth is I said it.  Embarassing huh?  And don't we have a brand whose punch line is 'Next is what?' now is that correct?

The other day I heard a colleague of mine say his house is very 'lighty'.  No, I am not making this up.  When you can say windy and airy why not lighty?  And who could think that the past tense of think is thought?  Whoever thought of this word and the complex spelling? I would rather spell it as 'thot'.

So the next time you come across some funny sign board, don't just chuckle...remember all of us are as confused about this language as the one who wrote it.

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sandhya, India :
Funny short article on a funny language, written humourously in such a style that brings a smile on your face effortlessly. Keep the good work going. All the best Chai.
D.P.Kumar, India :
It is not merely in pronouncing BUT and PUT but in thousands of words lots of silent alphabets can be avoided to simplify spelling, expressing and writing.

English is really the funny language.
Chaitra Rao, please do write "something special" like this; serious and enjoyable.
Nirupa, USA :
nice article :)
I could relate to all these incidents written here ... guess english being a foreign language(although used more than our native language :P) we would naturally goof up here and there ... right?
Anil, UK:
Recently i came across a huge board in front of our biggest bazaar." LADIES Bottoms, Take one, get onne free". Now isnt that funny.

English is a very funny language. When we dont use the alphabets at all, then wats the point in putting them and calling them silent :)

Well done madam. Wish u had gone deep into this vast language.
Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy, India :
Very interesting article. Many people learn English language without going to school or reading literature with proper grammer. - Mr. A S Mathew
Shoukld it be Grammar, Mr. Mathew?

Swelling mishtick, I presume! :D
Kudpi Rajanikanth Shenoy, India :
With 'Hinglish' catching up with the younger population, I don't think it's funny anymore!

I guess, Hinglish will be the official language the world over one day down the line!
A.S.Mathew, USA :
Very interesting article. Many people learn English language without going to school or reading literature with proper grammer. So, these people will literally butcher the language. Even among the educated people, they create their own spelling for the words they put in black and white. It is the
notion of average person using the English language; it is simply to express a message or idea across. So, for many, grammer and spelling have no validity.

The "foreign liqueur shop" but the sign
"Forghan Liqor Shop". When I questioned the educated owner about the mistake, he started arguing with me (he was a lawyer). Then I gave him the dictionary to look, within a week, he changed the sign board in good
English with all the spelling in the right place. Many times, we are in a hurry to look at the dictionary to clear the doubt.

However, when English is spoken properly, that person will be respected everywhere in the world, because that is the world language
of literature and science.
Mithun, UAE:
Good one Chai you know what when the educated make mistakes they call it slang thats it....
Shen, India :
'Fried Rise' for you know what (no prizes for guessing that one). -Chaitra Rao

The rise and the fall of the Roman empire, a fried special at times.:)
Stanley D Souza, New York, USA :
Good one Chaitra. Keep going. There is no end for this so called The Funny Language. It reminds me once someone said..if you feel like applish, have goes on as we move around and it gives a chuckle in our life..thanks, I enjoyed your clip.
Bert Naik, Australia :
Interesting article this one, Chaitra.

Out of curiosity, is it the language that you find funny, or is it the way it is written?

It is difficult to imagine how Indians would have felt if the national language of India were to be called Afghani or Thai! But that is roughly what happened with the geographical location that we call England.

The local people were Celts. But the invading tribes from (today's) Germany super-imposed their language, and even gave a new name to the whole land they occupied! This created a huge mix in the language.

And then there was the invasion by the Scandinavian tribes who added their variation to the language.

As if this was not enough, the Normans super-imposed the language with French/Latin.

In all these total modifications in the language as a result of each foreign invasion, it is no wonder that no one really created a proper, rule-based writing for the language (as we have with Indian languages, French, Italian etc). English must have the most ridiculous of written forms.

Now that they are all mixed from vastly different cultures and we call them English…

Many of them (the native speakers) still struggle with the language - both spoken and written - that is arguably theirs!

I am frankly amazed to see that Indians have learnt the same language so well.

Having said that, I get a bit disappointed when I hear 'our folks' referring to the rear of their dwellings as the backside. Or, when I get an email from people asking me to 'revert'.
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