This post is not just about errors in English, but words that have come in common usage and are liberally used (wrongly of course) by everyone to mean the same thing. It makes me wonder if it was a particular teacher who had taught these words wrongly and if he/she had had so many pupils that they all learnt the wrong usage and in turn spread the scourge. The uniformity of the usage and the confidence with which they are spoken take your breath away!
The errors are not only grammatical, but pertain to pronunciation, spelling — the entire lot. They can confuse, confound and crack you up if not actually drive you crazy.
Here are some gems:
Relax, don’t become tension. (literally translated from ‘tension agatheenga, in Tamil. The word is not misused just in Tamil Nadu. In the north they say, ‘tension mat le,’ meaning ‘Don’t take tension,’ as if it were some kind of pill! This mistake could be due to the ignorance of the usage of the verb ‘tense’.
Ha = ka and vice versa
If you want to become haam (calm), light a handle (candle). But koo (who) said that? Kelen (Helen) did! She always lights a handle when she becomes tension and wants to haam her mind!
By the same token the cycle has candlebars!
Probably the words are too much of a tongue twister? Or maybe someone who couldn’t pronounce the words properly originally taught them and the students are continuing in the footsteps of the master?
“Madam, shall I fill up the tank at this bulk? The next one is 100 kms away!” said the driver.
“I don’t want too much,” I replied thinking that he meant bulk purchase or something.
By then he had pulled into the petrol…. BULK??
Yes folks, that is how it had been written there on the neon signboard! ‘Bulk’ has become common lingo now in many parts of south Tamil Nadu, so much so that illiterate, educated, half-educated…everyone is into bulk!!
It is another matter that ‘petrol bunk’ itself is a term used solely by Indians in place of petrol pump or petrol station. So I guess, a variation of the variation is acceptable!!!???
Our guests were late. The reason? They couldn’t find the house after entering the colony. “We were rounding the place all this while,” said the lady — translated evidently from ‘ghoom rahe the’ in Hindi. This is commonly used by everyone, young and old.
We know word, will use it!
Many a time the words are used with the greatest disregard for their actual meaning. Sometimes they resemble the right word, but most of the time, they don’t. Makes me wonder if they read the thesaurus regularly. The TV mechanic promised to come in the evening saying, “I will come confirm!”
Likewise, when a teacher complains about a student for not focusing, she only means that he is not concentrating!
They have no response!
That’s what the young woman coming out of the complaints section of the telephone exchange said angrily.
“Isn’t that bad?” I said.
“The last time there was a young man who took response for the problem and got it right immediately! At least they should give some responsibility, when you come in person to give a complaint!”
I ran from the place before the mix up between response and responsibility drove me nuts!
What do you do when someone looks at you with suspense? Ask him or her to spill the secret? No. You just dispel their suspicion about you.
That’s right. A mix up between suspense and suspicion!
No conscious at all!
“Let me catch that fellow and I will show him who he has cheated! These fellows have no conscious at all!” That was my neighbour, ranting at a salesman who had sold her some useless junk.
It took me a while to understand that she did not mean an unconscious salesman but one without a conscience! They are obviously synonymous in her vocabulary! But she has a lot of company!
The group of boys standing outside the school after their board exams was discussing the paper.
“Arre yaar, this year, the paper was typical, wasn’t it?” one of them asked the others.
They all nodded. “Many questions were outside the syllabus!” lamented another.
So, I presumed that the paper was typically outside the syllabus. “Is it usually like this? I mean, the questions being asked out of syllabus and all?” I asked.
“No, aunty. This year it was really typical. Not like last year when so many got above 90%” replied one of them.
Unable to understand, I looked blank. “But you said ‘typical’. Typical of what?” It was their turn to look blankly at me. Doesn’t the lady understand English?
“Typical means, kathin, hard,” the first boy explained patiently, a smile playing on his lips, convinced that the aunty needed some urgent lessons in English!
“That is not typical,” I said, “that is ‘tough’. Typical means something that conforms to a type; in this case the usual pattern of question paper,” I explained, not really sure they understood.
Ignoring me, another boy asked, “How many questions did you attend? You get marks even for attending questions, you know!”
This time I didn’t even ATTEMPT to correct the boy, but beat a hasty retreat.
What to do? He is man!
Should he have been a woman, maybe? This gem was from an English lecturer who meant that the person was just human! (‘Enna cheyya? Avan manithan thane! — Manithan in Tamil also denotes both ‘man’ and ‘human being’.)
Come exam time and you can commonly hear this: “Did you by heart the poem?” – as if it were a verb. ‘I have by-hearted the lesson!’ is another gem. It should be ‘Did you learn the poem by heart’ and ‘I have memorised the lesson,’ respectively. But who can argue with the kids?
Did you know that a little knowledge (of English) can be a hilarious thing? A sample:
- You get a call from a long-lost friend who wants to hear your sound !!?? (Voice) Sound is also used for noise, as in ‘there is lot of sound in the room.’
- Farmers in our village use deprigation! No, it is not depreciation or some such thing, but Drip irrigation!
- A rehriwalla becomes a business magnate when he opens a kiosk.
- Bypass roads are spelt as Byepass roads. Perhaps the vehicles say Bye-bye to the cities they are not entering?
- You become active while driving on busy roads. No, you don’t become animated but are just alert!
- Do you want heat water or cooling water?
- “He has no mind at all!” which is supposed to mean that the person has no brain and is a fool!
- Someone who doesn’t like you leaves you a look (look vudaran (Tamil).