Category Archives: Language

Illiteracy amongst Indian professionals

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A few years ago, I could pick up the phone, ask for the production manager of a publishing company, and tell them about the services we offer in India. I would have a cordial chat which might not come to anything. But now there is no chance of me getting through. Continue reading

Category: Language, India

Goodbye, man with white stick…

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white stickThe last few times I have gone through Euston Square tube station in London, I noticed an announcement stating it was the correct stop for “Royal National Institute of Blind People”. I always knew RNIB as “Royal National Institute for the Blind”, so I checked in Wikipedia. Continue reading

“White House cool on car bail-out”

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If you keep an eye on the BBC News web page, then you probably look at the main headlines on the top right of the page. Now to save space, these are written in a very condensed form, using short words where possible. When I read this post, I realised it could have two opposing meanings on the two sides of the Atlantic. Does it mean the White House gave the bail-out plan a cool, or unenthusiastic reception (British meaning), or were they easy going about it going ahead (US meaning)? Of course it is the former, but a cute example of ambiguity in language I thought…

Category: Language | Tags: ,


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A recent trend (I think it is recent) in the US is to use “oftentimes” for “often”. How this happened I don’t know, but is it not enough just to use “often”?

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Trying too hard to sound right

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This morning I went for my walk around the museum in Trivandrum, listening to podcasts. One was a BBC documentary about the young generation in Iran. What spoilt the content was the Iranian narrator’s accent. Many young Iranians these days work too hard on the accent, then get confused, e.g. pronouncing v as a w. The most nauseating of course is Iranians saying “Ee-waan” and worse, “Ee-way-nian”, as this lady did. A soft “r” is acceptable, as in normal English and American parlance, but “w” is going too far… I listened to the whole show, but it was only just preferable to silence!

I get the most satisfaction listening to commentators who have good knowledge of English but make no attempt to hide their foreign accent. Hazhir Teimourian is a good example.

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