Well, I am not a teacher nor would I ever like to be, yet whenever I hear ‘I love her too much’ or ‘whatever they allowance is rubbish.’ Don’t you believe guys? You do, I know I am not an only victim who face these type of rustic english. So, let me talk about some common errors Indians make for our embarrassment.
Indian English can be outrageously funny (read this and this)!
But it can also lead to embarrassing situations. The most popular excuse for speaking incorrect English isn’t that off-trotted line: What does it matter as long as the leanings of what you’re saying is conveyed?
Well, it does matter.
Which is why, I come up again and again as part of my ongoing series on the English language, I explain why the following sentences are wrong (and what you should say instead):
1. I climbed a bus:
This is a classic example of what happens when we translate from a native Indian language to English.
In this case, the sentence in Hindi would read: Main bus mein chadha.
The key to speaking any language is to be able to think in that language. You don’t climb a bus, unless of course you’ve climbed atop bus. You board s bus.
You mount a horse.
You take the stairs.
You climb a mountain.
Therefore say: I boarded a bus.
2. I had butter chicken at that hotel.
Butter chicken is a wonderful dish; trust us, we know! :-P
But here’s the problem.
A hotel is an establishment that provides lodging; a restaurant is a place that serves food. So if you’ve had, let’s say, butter chicken, there’s a good possibility you’d have had it in a restaurant and not a hotel.
Your hotel may have a restaurant on its premises but it would still be incorrect to say that you’ve had it at the hotel; technically, you were most likely sitting in the restaurant.
Of course, you could have also ordered it as part of room service but let’s not go down that road right now.
Some hotels have restaurants; others have cafes and/or bars; some have all of them and more… also a discussion best left for another day. :-)
So don’t say: I had butter chicken at that hotel.
Instead say: I had butter chicken at that restaurant.
3. This is a gift from my co-brother.
Indian languages are very specific about relationships!
It’s almost as if we want the other person to know precisely how someone is related to us.
It is in many ways a great thing; there’s no confusion; everyone knows who’s who, which can be very helpful when your e-n-t-i-r-e family shows up at your wedding.
Sadly, that cannot be said of English.
A cousin could be your chacha’s daughter or your chacha’s son!
Granny is your father’s mother and your mother’s mother!
Sister-in-law could be your wife’s sister or your brother’s wife!
But such are the quirks of the English language.
A ‘co-brother’ however is a seemingly Indian invention.
He is your wife’s sister’s husband.
It’s one thing if you’re talking about him within a group of friends. But if you’re speaking, let’s say, in a formal set-up, ‘co-brother’ is entirely avoidable.
Consider eating: This is a gift from my sister-in-law’s husband.
4. Where’s my keybunch?
The singular problem with this sentence is this: There is no such word as ‘keybunch’!
Instead say: Where’s my bunch of keys? :-)
5. Everyone in Delhi has big, big cars.
Yet again, a case of literal translation from Hindi: Delhi mein sab ke paas badi-badi gadiyan hoti hain!
Instead say: Everyone in Delhi has large cars.
6. Please close the fan!
Think of how you’d say this in, let’s say, Hindi: Please fan bandh karo!
Right? And that’s the problem.
You close a book.
You close down a business.
But you don’t close a fan.
Therefore say: Please turn off the fan!
And that’s all for today!
…shabab khan blog
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