Tuesday, November 21, 2006

India-isms & English-isms

As it is commonly known, India was ruled by the British for quite a while. Long enough, in fact, that many of the common phrases seem to be straight from the U.K. I thought I'd list out the more popular ones so that when you visit you dont need a translator:)

Needful - To do what's required of one... "I will do the needful" You are never quite sure what the needful is, but as long as its done, I guess it doesnt matter.

Come - A command asking someone to come closer ... "Come, Come"

Tell me - A common greeting on the phone instead of Hello ... Ring, Ring... "Tell me" - these last 2 give a glimpse into how "bossy" folks can be here...

Look after - To be responsible for something. .... "I look after Merchandising in Business Services at TSI" I particularly like this one as it has a nuturing ring to it.

Revert - To respond with an answer ... "Please revert by tomorrow" So formal:)

Paining - To hurt... "I have paining in my ear" Not sure what to say to this one...

Pre-Pone - To have a meeting earlier than scheduled "Since I am in the office now, could we pre-pone the meeting". Seems like a bit of a double negative to me, but I cant figure out why this isnt proper terminology....

Fix it - To do something, cross it off your to do list ... "Tracy, I have fixed it." "Dont worry, I'll fix it". Used in many situations...making a dinner reservation, calling the handiman, booking airline tickets, etc. I like the finality of this. I appeals to my strong need for closure:) (Anyone who has read my PE will get this point...)

Erstwhile - In the meantime, meanwhile - back at the ranch "Tracy was at work, erstwhile, Tom was napping with the kids". This one cracks us up. It seems so proper!!

There are also many people here who dont speak English as their 1st language, this is a great conversation trap for those of us that are native speakers but utterly clueless as to the rules/history of the language. My neighbor speaks at least 3 languages and tutors in English. She has asked me the following.... Maybe you can help me out on some of these as I didnt have the answer...

Shin dig - Why do we call parties shin digs and do we really use this term? What's the origin of the word? (she heard it on Desparate Housewives of all places).

Tend - Do you tend your garden or do you tend to your garden? Which is proper English and why?

Fish vs Fishes - Fish is the plural of fish, right? Unless you are talking about many different kinds of fish that are all in the same place, then would you call them fishes?

Foursome - Why do they call it a foursome and not - group of four or golfing partners. The whole concept of "tee-ing off" and a "tee box" was hard to explain too. She saw all of this on a Nokia commercial. Its good to know people are learning their English from TV.