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.
Author: Chaitra Rao- Bangalore