One of the most memorable lessons my mother taught me without having to beat it into me (as many others, but that's a story for another column), was - learn to speak any one language really well, make it your joyous communication line to the world.
For better or for verse (forget I just did that), for me it was English. So it has been with mounting excitement that I have watched the language go through metamorphoses with its usage in different cultures, especially India. Chaddi, badmash, tamasha and izzat (not necessarily in that order), etc. have increased the descriptive range of English, but some of the latest pronounciations and invented phrases have, I must confess, underwhelmed me.
Slept off - the first time I heard this I wondered what the person slept off - as in 'I was so drunk, I slept off the bed, on the floor.' But no, it was simply a useless three-letter word added to a word that connoted exactly what the speaker wanted to say. And then I got it! Slept off is an awe-inspiring mix of 'dropped off' and 'slept'!
Cereals - The flight stewardess in the stipulated skirt and smile asks 'Would you like some cereals?' The first time I thought, 'Ah! Many in-flight videos of fictional television content!' Sadly no. Breakfast carbohydrate in the plural. One cornflake, many cornflakes! Cummon ya!
Now for some well-entrenched mispronounciations -Academic - now pronounced uh-CAD-demmic. Gone are the days of AK-er-DEM-mic. Listen to any news channel, any college student.
Register - now pronounced ruh-GISS-ter. One day a terribly famous managing editor of an English news channel refused to say REH-gis-ter, and history, or given her gender, herstory was made. (If there was anny doubt about the pnjabification of the English language they were dspalled. Ball-AY, ball-AY.)
Comment - pronounced CUM-ment, not it's emphatic, satisfying, COMM-ent. This one's so universal that the other day when I said COMM-ent at a college, a student looked at me pityingly and said - 'Eh, cummon, ya, sir. It's cumment, ok?' Okay then…
Wictory, wigour, walue, and what-have-you - it's the wees and the double-yous. Before Gavaskar, before Infosys, this is what put us on the global map. My friends from other shores fall to their knees in hysterics every time this happens. Ha, ha, I say, wery funny. But the strange thing is every Indian somehow gets 'Inspector Vijay' correct. No one's ever said 'Inspector Wijay'. Huh. Makes you think, eh?
Read more Rahul Bose columns