Friday, 3 June 2011

Communication at crossroads

It has been a hectic day, chasing all manner of cats and failing miserably to outsmart the devious feline, actually only one but the others get alerted and then bedlam ensues.

But this was not what I intended to say when I sat down to write. One of my dear friends commented on my "Hinglish" in another forum which got me thinking about the various kinds of speak we indulge in here. Hinglish for those that may not know is a combination of Hindi and English widely and immediately understood in this sub-continent called India.There is also "Binglish" which is more relevant to Mumbai or the erstwhile Bombay.
The thing is that when one speaks or tries to , at least, perfect Engligh one finds that many do not understand or misunderstand the context or what is spoken and then give it a meaning quite different from what was meant. I found this happening to me very often,and wondered why people were putting words in my mouth, this I saw as a logical expanation, others defy logic but that shall be the topic for another day.

Some examples of Hinglish are funny or phunny as the case may be, some take a while to decipher.
Many years ago we had staff who were transferred to (the then) Bombay, gentlemen to the core I must declare, but when it came to speaking it was quite the opposite. To tell a colleague that someone had called for her, one of them left a note saying that there was a 'telephun massage' for her. After recovering from the initial shock we asked how on earth would she manage a massage over the telephone.
There was this person who unfortunately only knew the word "yes" which was pronounced Jaas. So in comes a passenger and " Do you have a flight going to so and so" ,  "Jaas" . " Are tickets available", 'Jaas". "What is the cost if the ticket" , "Jaas". Exasperation from the other side but the reply is a polite and patient  "Jaas".
Needless to say the poor man was sent right back to the station he came from. I am not trying to have a laugh at his expense or make fun of the way he spoke or the other wrote, all I have to say is that if the poor man had spoken in the national language perhaps it would have been better for all concerned.

" What men?" another typical hinglish phrase, which could range from meaning to --- what do you think you are doing? Oh Gosh , this is the real pits. Hey there whats up? , the meaning changes with the intonation and stress on the key words.

What you are doing? is of course a  self explanatory question meaning what are you doing? , pronounced whatrudoing?

Then there is the "Hello" which ranges from "hellloji" or "haloji" or " halllo" " aaalo", the variations are regional and not in the least bit jarring.

" Then what happened?" typical of a direct translation from Hindi to English.

" Over finished" does not mean that a maiden over has been bowled, but that the deed is over and done with.

There are umpteen examples of the phunny way we speak an alien language and get by. I may say here that  when I interact with people from phoren countries, I find them straining to understand my accent the way I  have to sometimes. I am now acclimatised to understanding various phoren accents, the others however have a tough time understanding us.

Okay then tata byby, tomorrow will see,





Renate said...

So funny, Nandi.

Speaking for myself, I immensely enjoy the unexpected flowers on the otherwise unexciting root of a language that I had to learn on the school bench, constantly hounded by the specter of mediocre grades.

My favourite "Indianism" that had me confounded for quite a while in the beginning is the use of "till" in a turned-around way, as in:

"I won't let that happen till I live."

Don't take

austere said...

Renate's got it right...

tenshun nako!