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English

October 7, 2014 ·
Expletives
I saw the word bitch used in a post and it stirred my sensitivity. I recalled a conversation with a lady colleague who was searching for an equivalent word to describe a man of mean character. I suggested that there might be none as we live in a man’s world. It is bad that even when someone abuses a man by the word ‘b..d’, it abuses a woman. Of course, it is used by some as an endearing word also like ‘badava rascal’. People use expletives freely that my resistance to it is anachronistic.


October 3, 2015 ·
An Englishman described me long back as an astute banker. I thought of it then and till now as a compliment (merit is a different issue). A week back, in the crossword, the clue was ‘wily’, a pejorative. The answer that fits is ‘astute’. I looked up the dictionary and it gives the meaning of astute as ‘clever and quick at seeing how to gain an advantage’, which is close to wily.

A later edition gives the meaning as ‘having an ability to assess people or situations accurately.’ That is perhaps the current usage. Anyway, it may be better not to be astute!

Oct 22, 2018


Words

I wondered what is the difference between mulish and stubborn. Dictionary did not help.
We are often foxed by words. The excess of words with similar meaning makes us suffer by surfeit. Different words come into being because of new things (jargon for technology), or some preference for a substitute from a classical language, or some metaphor that produces an impact, etc.
However, careful users check on the usage.
A lecturer in Loyola told me how a colleague addressed in a teachers’ meeting, ‘Dear pedagogues, ..’, and that pedagogue is a pejorative for a teacher.
Some words present straight ambiguity. Is bimonthly twice in a month or once in two months?
In Samskrtam, Bharavi is credited with अर्थगौरवं majesty of meaning, choice of diction.
In English, several Indians have surpassed the native speakers: V.S.Srinivasa Sastri, Nehru, Radhakrishnan. Russell was outstanding. There have been many.
When right words are in place, we can see it, and the passage is a delight to read.


The best legacy of the British Raj is the English language. English gave us the key to unlock knowledge in diverse fields, including that of our own heritage. English has been a growing language with profuse borrowing from various other languages and gives scope for rich expression.
It is not alien to us. It has been with us for three centuries, several generations. Many Indians (Nehru, Radhakrishnan, V S Srinivasa Sastri, e.g.) excelled in it. In fact, Sastri corrected Englishmen.

We should freely embrace it. All must learn English next to one’s mother tongue. It is the only way to keep us as one nation and foster nationalist spirit in us. It is claimed that we are a vast country as one nation because of the British. Let us cherish English and be one nation by acquiring and using knowledge and strengthening the nation by application of knowledge instead of wasting time on linguistic conversions.

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