Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Doppelganger

The other day, I was watching Heroes and Niki/Jessica reminded me of the linguistic doppelganger that affects a lot of people in this nation.

I am talking about the gap which exists between spoken and written English. Even if you discount the fact that speaking a language that is non-native to you involves a different level of comfort than writing in it, there is a stark gap. Even in those who are otherwise fairly comfortable in speaking the language. It exists in terms of vocabulary, or more aptly, the choice of words.
Why do so many of us choose to use haughty words or jargon picked up from popular sources when writing or speaking in public? The same people who are able to express themselves fluidly in simple language during conversation, use a totally different language altogether when writing/ speaking in public.
This at times makes me wonder, are they doing it to distance their writing self /public speaking self from their true self? Is this choice a conscious act and if so, why?

Or perhaps I am reading too much into it, it may be a result of the way the language is taught here by an education system that is optimised to create non- thinking clerks. But so many years later, why do we keep falling into the trap?

Good English or bad English is secondary, what I seek is honest English.



Monday, 12 January 2009

When you go home after years

Well, after almost two years of not visiting home, this new year's eve, I managed to be at home.
When you go back home after such a long break, you are faced with certain situations as follows..

  • You come to terms with the fact, that your room has been taken over. Nothing is the way you remembered it to be, for better or for worse. You can't find anything any more, you may even need to ask someone to help you in finding your bed.

  • People inside and outside of your home have diametrically opposite views when it comes to your physiognomy. While everyone outside agrees [quite accurately] that you have gained weight, everyone within the family feels you are perennially starved, malnourished, ready-to-die-of-hunger-any-given-minute.

  • Result of the above inference by the family : You are force-fed all kinds of good traditional food that the family has painstakingly prepared for you [and therefore you cannot refuse]. This usually results in a 10-11 course meal four times a day!

  • You feel the need for a secretary. With so many people to meet you are in serious shortage of time. You have to meet all the elderly relatives [and there's quite a lot thanks to our large family] lest ,you know...

  • You find all television channels have conspired to air the worst programmes in the very duration you are at home and have access to television. All adverts about the amazing movies/ programmes that will be shown in that month uncannily have broadcast dates that are after the day of your departure.

  • Ditto for all the happening gigs in town. They have either happened or will happen after you leave the city. It is as if, for the time being the city has decided to stop all activities just so that you can enjoy unsurpassed tranquillity.

  • You are pampered till you start developing a guilty conscience and then pampered some more.