Wednesday, August 20, 2008

English, and it's various siblings.

We are all familiar with the English of the movies, which is American English, because most of the movies we watch are from Hollywood. English has become an universal language of communication, and is preferred by more and more countries everyday as the official language due to the transcending of language barriers it promises. Here is an account of how this beautiful yet funny language has been experienced by me, and my comments on it.

Have you watched any British English movies? Or have you talked to someone from England? The accent is dramatically different from the American version, and I have felt it a bit strange at first when one of my instructors, an Englishman, began his lessons. Oh, if you watch BBC, it really doesn't have the pure British accent, it has a rather mixed variety.

Then oh there's Singlish. Ya lah! No need grammar one. Talk cock anyhow also can!! I picked up Singlish very quickly once I started my course in Singapore, although I don't know many Malay, Hokkien or Mandarin terms. Although it has had it's advantages that I have been able to connect with Singaporeans better by communicating the way they do, there are also some drawbacks such as impairing my English speaking skills.

I just found out that there is no such word called "detoriate." It is not officially found in the Oxford dictionary. How did this 'word' come into being considered a good word to use in reports when it isn't even correct? English is a funny language.

What has irritated the most out of me is Manglish, which is not really English, but transliterating Malayalam (one of Indian languages) using the English alphabets. It means the sounds of that Indian language are expressed in writing using English letters. It is used by those stubborn Malayalees who refuse to talk in English to other Malayalees even in email or chat. They use Manglish when talking to others online, or on SMS.

Besides the fact that not all sounds of an Indian language can be fully expressed by using English alphabets, the use of Manglish also clearly shows the stubbornness of such people. They are not ready to embrace English as an effective, common and versatile mode of communication, but rather claim a non-existent patriotism by shying away from foreign languages. The Tamil version would be called Tanglish.

There was a message I heard on radio today that is worth mentioning here. Speaking Good English is not about following a culture's accent. That is, you don't need to follow the movies or the British. It is about speaking with correct grammar, in full sentences, clearly and audibly.

But we are living in a fast moving world, where communication only focuses on getting the main message across, but not on how it is presented. It is like two exit signs, one that simply has a single word "EXIT" and the other has a long sentence "If you wish to exit the building, or are required to exit the building during an emergency, please use the door below." Surely, the first sign is more desirable as just four capital letters would convey the exact same message as would the 22 words.

Nevertheless, we should remember that even though we are living in a fast-developing world, we are still social beings and crave for the company of one another. Communication is what creates bonds and friendships, and without communication there would be much chaos. Can an EXIT sign be your best friend?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Deck of Cards

Ace - There is only one God.
2 - The Bible is divided into two testaments.
3 - Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
4 - The four saints: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
5 - The five wise virgins with the oil lamps.
6 - Six days of Creation.
7 - And on seventh day, God rested.
8 - Only eight people were spared from the Flood.
9 - The nine lepers who were healed, but never thanked.
10 - The Ten Commandments.
King - God is the Almighty King.
Queen - Blessed be the Virgin Mary.
Jack - The Devil.

Thanks to Mr. Dennis for this nice piece of information.

Update: Links to: the story and the song.