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     Volume 4 Issue 46 | May 13, 2005 |

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Revenge is Sweet


One of the things you have to admire about Indian TV is the ability of a good number of Indians to speak in English; pretty impressive stuff, although many of them do have the tendency to accentuate the syllables in their own particular way.

We do that too, but we vocalise English in our own Bangla tone. Nothing wrong in that way of communicating; unlike most of our English newscasters on TV/radio who give so much emphasis on some alien, almost ET, foreign accent that they do not have and are not supposed to have, and end up verbalising nothing to us listeners. If it may help the news producer in selecting newscasters in future, please note that no English person will understand a sentence either.

Also impressive is the knack of the Indians to take leave for this reason or that. In that we share a traditional commonness with them as sub-continental brothers and sisters and uncles and aunties and cousins and …

Leave applications in Indian English, named Hinglish by their own accord, can make fascinating reading, and the content and spirit is not from our own Banglish, now practised almost offensively by warring companies parading a host of cellular phone products.

A collection of leave letters and applications written by people in various places of India was sent to me by a friend. One involved a man who had to go to his village for a family errand. He applied for leave as follows: "Since I have to go to my village to sell my land along with my wife. Please sanction me one week leave."

No Indian in his right mind would dare do that; and thank heavens the wife had no inkling about his intention, to sell the land that is.

The most oft used excuse/reason in begging for leave is death in the family. The grandmother has to die several times in a man's life. When the bosses get wise he switches to a new job. Someone once tried to switch a grandmother but he was caught granny-handed and given a good bashing by the grandmother.

Mothers-in-law are also popular as dead people in leave applications. A man applied to the Hindustan Aeronautics Administration Department: "As my mother-in-law has expired and I am responsible for it, please grant me 10 days leave."

Some workers plan not to return after the rites. They are supposedly that much involved in the family. And so after a death in the family one employee applied for half-day leave as follows: "Since I have to go to the cremation ground at 10 o'clock and I may not return, please grant me half-day casual leave"

Not many guys mess about with their wife, especially if they are sick. I am not referring to the widower, who asked soon after his wife left for heavenly abode whether he would marry again replied, "No, not so fast. I want to rest for a few days".

Now this one even you would be glad that the wife had no chance to see. One guy wrote an application of leave as thus: "My wife is suffering from sickness and as I am her only husband at home I may be granted leave."

In fact leave applications can be difficult. There was this covering note: "I am enclosed herewith..." Now no one is expected to take that seriously. But you might if you receive this in writing: "Dear Sir, with reference to the above, please refer to my below..."

Actually you should have some idea about forthcoming leave applications by observing the nature of the job application. You may want to be careful, not necessarily worried, if this one landed on your table. A candidate's application read: "This has reference to your advertisement calling for a 'typist and an accountant - Male or Female'... As I am both for the past several years and I can handle both, I am applying for the post".

Not much in the form of top grade English is expected from school students with our background. After all, they are still learning and have not passed out. However, some of you may pass out by seeing their leave applications. One budding scholar wrote this leave letter to his headmaster: "As I am studying in this school I am suffering from headache. I request you to leave me today". You would not blame the headmaster for giving him the TC.

Everything said and done, there is no shame in dealing with a foreign language as we are doing. English was imposed upon us. Unfortunately we have to live with it. So let's do it to the best of our ability. Let us remain ourselves and not make fools of ourselves by trying to ape the ancestors of Robert Clive, the British governor of Bengal. Happily, they are many folds more terrible in Bangla than we are at their mother tongue.

"Clive promptly broke the peace with the nawab (of Bengal) and on June 23, 1757, with less than 3,000 troops and with the help of a traitor (Mir Zafar) within the enemy ranks, defeated Siraj-ud-Dawlah and his army of 50,000 at Plassey; this victory permanently embedded British power in India." -- Those words are from an English book.

Clive committed suicide on 22 November 1774 on English soil.

In conclusion I am reminded of a recent SMS doing the rounds: English man to Bangalee, "We have raped your country for 200 years." Unmoved Bangalee, "And so we shall rape your language forever”

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