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Indore: Want to have 'O-neeyan salaad', check the 'meenoo card' first!

Indore is a city that prides itself with being a foodie. But, eating here can offer a hard-to-digest experience to lovers of the English language. Dozens of words are put through the grinder at local eateries everyday.

indore Updated: Oct 13, 2014 23:23 IST
Saeed Khan
Saeed Khan
Hindustan Times

For a city that prides itself on its foodie credentials, eating out in Indore can be a hard-to-digest experience, at least for English lovers.

Dozens of words are put through the grinder at local eateries everyday as restaurant-goers attempt to reconcile a fondness for using English with a lack of felicity for doing so. For starters, there's the "meenoo card", frequently dubbed "mainu card" or simply "mainu", perhaps a reflection on the growing numbers of the "me-first" tribe.

Once they've decided what to order diners plump for an appetiser, say, 'O-neeyan salaad'. And it begins to slowly dawn on you that, whatever else may have been on the menu, linguistic fidelity isn't on the cards.

"As an English teacher, it is very jarring to hear such pronunciation," says Deepa Vanjani, Head, department of languages, Gujarati Science College. Vowels are where most city residents meet their Waterloo.

"Many people mix up the "I" and "O" sounds," she adds. The constraints imposed by writing for a family publication prevent one from listing the various pronunciations for cutlery. Suffice it to say that a three-pronged item is mouthed in a manner that makes it sound distressingly close to a four-letter word.

"Finger baul", goes up the cry as the meal draws to an end. But don't worry, the diner doesn't wish to perform a rude action on a Baul (those wandering minstrels so beloved of Zen Master Osho). This is merely the Indorean's way of demanding an instrument to facilitate post-prandial washing of hands.

"The regional flavour dictates pronunciation to a large extent. The stress and accent used in particular dialects are very strong and are not easily rid of even after a lifetime of effort," she points out. And then there's the call for "paper napkins", with the accent on the first word.

As if City restaurateurs were in the habit of routinely dispensing cloth napkins to patrons which could be returned to the owner at their pleasure. Or, if they so chose, not at all. Educational institutions have an important role in schooling people in the proper use of the English language from a young age.

"The importance given to pronunciation has declined over the years. Moreover, the faculty at many schools is not very good," said Vanjani. A sad, if unappetising, fact that most parents would readily agree with.

First Published: Oct 13, 2014 17:21 IST