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English Matters

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Ansuya, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Ansuya

    Ansuya Platinum IL'ite

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    Ladies

    I am starting this thread to serve as a question-and-answer discussion platform related to English usage. Whether we are English First- or Second Language speakers, it's safe to assume we all have something to learn when it comes to speaking and writing the English language.

    I encourage all of you to post your queries here, where I or other IL contributors can answer your questions. It is important to note that this is a secure environment in which to express yourself - in other words, here, there will be no such thing as a stupid question, so feel free to ask anything without fear!

    It is also important that we maintain a civil and constructive tone at all times. We will NOT be arguing about the finer points of English usage; instead, we will seek to gain a greater understanding of certain principles in order to eliminate some of the more common errors that people tend to make.

    Although we'll try to steer clear of explanations that are too technical, it is sometimes necessary to understand the principles behind a certain rule in order to implement it properly. However, we'll try to keep the textbook stuff to a minimum. What I'm envisioning is little guidelines, principles, and explanations of common errors in English usage that, once clarified, will help us to polish our spoken and written English.

    Your input and feedback at this stage would be appreciated, especially in defining the scope of this thread. So, let me know what you all are thinking! In the meantime, I'll come up with an example of the kind of discussion point that we are aiming for.

    Thanks
    Ansuya
     
    Viswamitra, MonikaSG, iman and 6 others like this.
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  2. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Very good thread indeed.Looking forward to a lot of input in the near future.:thumbsup
     
  3. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Ansuya,

    I would say :cheers buddy, and hope it really benefits all of us here..to polish what we know and also to learn along with others...
     
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  4. Padmasrinivas

    Padmasrinivas Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Ansuya,

    I like the idea of this thread about the usage of the English language. There are many typically Indian usages, can I use the term 'Indianisation' of English?

    Just a clarification - Will one discuss common usages like the question tag 'He is coming, is it?', or 'He said he's coming isn't it?' when we mean 'He is coming isn't he?' or 'He said he's coming, didn't he?' I presume you are referring to something like this?

    "In the meantime, I'll come up with an example of the kind of discussion point that we are aiming for". Yes, I'm waiting eagerly for you to continue ...

    Padma
     
    2 people like this.
  5. Ansuya

    Ansuya Platinum IL'ite

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    Kaluputti and Shanvy

    Thanks a lot for the positive feedback! It's good to know that this sort of thread will be useful and welcomed here at IL. Let me know if there's anything specific you guys would like to discuss.

    Padma

    You raise a great point about the Indianisation of the language. In my opinion, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In South Africa, where I'm from, the people of Indian descent have their own version of English, and it's different to the Indianised English spoken in India. It's quite natural for different groups to put their own unique spin on the language. Before, it was frowned upon by language purists, but the more modern view to take is that it's a natural process, especially in the light of globalisation.

    The examples you give are a perfect illustration of that (the use if "is it?" and "isn't it?"). While they may be considered grammatically wrong, they would make perfect sense to someone else who shares in that particular frame of reference. I think it's up to the individual to decide whether he or she wants to continue with those expressions, or not. In my case, I tend to switch between modes. In other words, if I'm speaking to friends and family in an informal setting, I tend to use the kinds of words, expressions, and constructions (often "grammatically incorrect"!) that suit the occasion.

    However, when I need to communicate in a professional or formal setting, or with someone who wouldn't be familiar with those conventions peculiar to my "group", I speak or write a more formal, "correct" version of English. I think the little language peculiarities that define us as a group have a purpose, and it's not my agenda to wipe them out completely, unless that's what someone wants to do for themselves.

    What I would hope to achieve in this thread is to make people aware of the differences, so that they have a choice. That way, they can choose a mode of communication that is most appropriate to the context and audience. I'm not advocating improper language use, but I don't want to undermine those lovely little personal touches we as Indians have put on the English language as we have made it our own! Some of them are quite charming, and language, after all, should reflect the individuality of people who use it (within reason and without obscuring understanding, of course).

    So, to answer your question, Padma, yes, absolutely, that's the kind of query we'll be dealing with here ("is it?" and "isn't it?") - but I really don't want anyone to feel like they are being judged or criticised or "corrected". Rather, we're striving for a deeper understanding of why we use the language in a certain way and hopefully, give people the power to change those aspects of their own language usage that they'd like to.

    I'm heartened and encouraged by all the feedback so far, so keep it coming!

    Thanks
    Ansuya
     
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  6. Padmasrinivas

    Padmasrinivas Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Ansuya,

    Great! So we're ready to follow your lead.... Will be checking this thread for your posts,

    Padma
     
  7. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Hey Ansuya,

    that's awesome - the response is already great for the thread! I am so thrilled and look forward to learning and sharing more here.

    While I do understand how language changes, I still belong to the old school and like to learn the proper way - especially keepingin mind that it has to be imparted to my little ones. I am sure all of us have heard of these terms - Hinglish (English spoken in Hindi.... read with the accent), Tinglish (in Tamil, Telugu), Kinglish (in Kannada!).

    So please do give us the lead and I am sure a discusiion will arise. Look forward to learning more.
     
  8. Sabitha_K

    Sabitha_K Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Anusuya ,

    A big hug to you for starting such a wonderful thread.

    I am sure it is going to be a great forum where we can all learn from each other.

    I am eagerly waiting to hear more on the discussion direction and scope.:thumbsup
     
  9. Ansuya

    Ansuya Platinum IL'ite

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    Padma, Srama, and Sabitha, thank you for your warm responses and encouragement. Srama, I agree that if we can spare our children the consequences of the "code-switching" that we have to do, we'd probably be doing them a favour! Sabitha, welcome to our new thread! Padma, here's our first discussion:

    Many people are unable to discern when to use ADVICE or ADVISE (or other words like them, like licence and license).

    The basic principle to understand in making out the difference between the two words is that

    ADVICE = NOUN (naming word)
    ADVISE = VERB (doing word)

    So, if you are writing or speaking, and have to choose between the two, look at your sentence and see if you need a verb or a noun. Here is how the two words are used in sentences. See if you can distinguish the doing word function (verb) from the naming word function (noun) based on the MEANING of the sentence:

    When he gives me driving ADVICE, I listen because I trust his experience and knowledge.

    I ADVISE you to heed all traffic signals when taking your driving test.

    Now, the difference between these two words is a little easier for us to make out because they are pronounced differently.

    ADVICE - has a soft "c" sound, like an "s"
    ADVISE - the "s" sounds like a "z"

    The same noun-verb principle applies to other words, like licence-license and practice-practise. However, these words are not pronounced differently, so you have to remember the noun-verb rule to figure out which one to use.

    I got my new driver's LICENCE today. (noun - a thing you can sense, i.e. see, smell, touch, feel, hear, taste)
    What vehicles are you LICENSED to drive? (verb - something that has been done)

    You must get enough PRACTICE before you take your driving test. (noun)
    Let's PRACTISE our driving together. (verb)

    A further complication to keep in mind is that in American English, they have done away with this distinction and everything is spelled with an "s". I am South African, and we were taught to speak and write the Queen's English, and I assume it is the same in India. So, it becomes a matter of choice, and depends on where you are, when you are deciding what to do about this little tricky matter of usage.

    I welcome your feedback on this first discussion. Feel free to offer ADVICE (haha) on improving the content or style of my post. I'm aiming for maximum readability and understanding, so let me know how I can make my explanations more user-friendly. Oh, and if I've made a mistake somewhere, correct me quickly before I mislead anyone!

    Ansuya
     
  10. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Ansuya, that made an interesting read. I think it was drilled well enough into our heads when we were in school - so I knew the right usage but it didnot know why. Thanks for the explanation - concise and well written.

    Thanks for the initiative and I loved reading it. Oh BTW I am always wondering about the usage of me and I for ex...Sam and I or me and Sam or Sam and me...

    Look forward to hearing back from you.
     
    iman likes this.

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