Saturday, November 13, 2010

The mother and sister of English

I am sure you have noticed that the English language used by most people these days is hardly ornamental. Or flowery. Or sexy. This article today in Livemint  shows how every Ram -Shaam, Jodhu -Modhu is becoming an author. And even with their numerous grammatical mistakes, they are hardly amusing to read. Check out this example from the same article - Chandraprakash Mohata’s Patyala Down De Throat… A sweet melody from pegs to riches
"...It was in a short time we had made ourselves comfortable with the computer machines; a bomb shell babe attracted our attention with an interruption. She seemed pretty with a perfect ten. Long hairs, sharp nose, thin lips twisted in a snarl.". In twitter lingo - #EpicFail.
What I really miss is seeing some good, old Legalese, where legal terms are combined in long-winded sentences, or varied or with permutations, with the initial design of legal or drafting precision but which otherwise add unnecessary complexity or inadvertently resulting in confusion. What fun I say ! Take this example taken from here.
When a layperson wants to give you an orange, he or she merely says, “I give you this orange.”
But when a lawyer - a master of legalese says it, the words he or she uses are:–
“Know all persons by these present that I hereby give, grant, release, convey, transfer and quitclaim all my right, title, interest, benefit and use whatsoever in, or and concerning this chattel, otherwise known as an orange, or citrus aurantium, together with all the appurtenances thereto of skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds and juice to have and to hold the said orange, for his own use and behoof, to himself and his heirs, in fee simple forever, free from all liens, encumbrances, easements, limitations, restraints or conditions whatsoever, any and all prior deeds, transfer, or other documents whatsoever, now or anywhere made to the contrary notwithstanding, with full power to bite, cut, suck or otherwise eat the said orange or to give away the same, with or without its skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds or juice.” Is it not wonderful ?
I am also pained by the diminishing use of Babu English or Butler English all aroundme. Take this example taken from here : "The extreme stimulus of professional and friendly solicitations has led me to the journey of accomplished advantages to proceed elucidatory and critical comments: wherein no brisking has been thrown apart to introduce prima facie and useful matters to facilitate literary pursuits . If the aimed point be embraced favourably by the public, all in all grateful acknowledgement will ride on the jumping border from the very bottom of my heart".  Did you #getit ? No ? Ask the meaning in an IIM interview and seperate the men from boys.
Or another one from the same article here: A book of ready-made letters for all occasions, recommending an ideal letter to a newly married girl says: "You adjusted yourself in the family of your in-laws. Always give good impression and impact to them by your every action". Pure epicness.
The point is this: If you want to write in English, write well. Or be funny (even unintentionally so if possible). Or at least write good Indian English,  but Abeyaar, Don't do Maa - Behen of Angrezi. Pliss.


  1. Absolutely Fantastix! Always knew that Legalese English can be fascinating, but the 'Said Orange' has stolen the show!

  2. it is totally producing the goggling of the eyes and the drooling in the mouth to have set the vision upon so scrumptious a serving that caused whetting of the appetite in a mind starved of fodder of the humour kind for an indecent length of time. the salutations from a humble reader.

  3. loved it, especially the advocate's orange give-away...

  4. Thanks to all of you. I am glad you enjoyed reading the convulated, confusing and the comprehensively incomprehensible lines......

  5. Now I got meaning of "the mother and sister of English"... too good :)

  6. the cold blooded murder of English or rather its transmutation by slow poisoning has left me quite saddened...what pains me more is that the youngest generation is the worst...they have never heard the real one and also have no time to read books!


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