lundi, juin 20, 2011

10 classic Indianisms: 'Doing the needful' and more

Total yar!


How to fix grammatically insane phrases found in common Indian English

We are a unique species, aren't we? Not humans. Indians, I mean. No other race speaks or spells like we do. Take greetings for example. A friendly clerk asking me for my name is apt to start a conversation with, "What is your good name?" As if I hold that sort of information close to my heart and only divulge my evil pseudonym. Bizarre.

I call these Indianisms.

Which got me thinking about a compilation, a greatest hits of the 10 most hilarious Indianisms out there. And here they are. The most common ones, and my favorites among them.

1. 'Passing out'

When you complete your studies at an educational institution, you graduate from that institution.

You do not "pass out" from that institution.

To "pass out" refers to losing consciousness, like after you get too drunk, though I⭠not sure how we managed to connect graduating and intoxication. Oh wait 0f course, poor grades throughout the year could lead to a sudden elation on hearing you've passed all of your exams, which could lead to you actually "passing out" - but this is rare at best.

2. 'Kindly revert'

One common mistake we make is using the word revert to mean reply or respond. Revert means "to return to a former state."

I can't help thinking of a sarcastic answer every time this comes up.

"Please revert at the earliest."

"Sure, I set my biological clock to regress evolutionarily to my original primitive hydrocarbon state at 1 p.m. today."

3. 'Years back'

If it happened in the past, it happened years ago, not "years back."

Given how common this phrase is, I'm guessing the first person who switched "ago" for "back" probably did it years back. See what I mean?

And speaking of "back," asking someone to use the backside entrance sounds so wrong.

"So when did you buy this car?"

"Oh, years back."

"Cool, can you open the backside? I'd like to get a load in."

4. 'Doing the needful'

Try to avoid using the phrase "do the needful." It went out of style decades ago, about the time the British left. Using it today indicates you are a dinosaur, a dinosaur with bad grammar. You may use the phrase humorously, to poke fun at such archaic speech, or other dinosaurs.

I'll you do the needful?
"Of course, and I send you a telegram to let you know it's done too."

5. 'Discuss about'

"What shall we discuss about today?"

"Let discuss about politics. We need a fault-ridden topic to mirror our bad grammar."

You don't "discuss about" something; you just discuss things. The word "discuss" means to "talk about". There is no reason to insert the word "about" after "discuss." That would be like saying "talk about about." Which "brings about" me to my next peeve.

6. 'Order for'

"Hey, let's order for a pizza."

Sure, and why not raid a library while we're about it. When you order something, you "order" it, you do not "order for" it.

Who knows when or why we began placing random prepositions after verbs? Perhaps somewhere in our history someone lost a little faith in the "doing" word and added "for" to make sure their order would reach them. They must have been pretty hungry.

7. 'Do one thing'

When someone approaches you with a query, and your reply begins with the phrase "do one thing," you're doing it wrong. "Do one thing" is a phrase that does not make sense. It is an Indianism. It is only understood in India. It is not proper English. It is irritating.

There are better ways to begin a reply. And worst of all, any person who starts a sentence with "do one thing" invariably ends up giving you at least five things to do.

My computer keeps getting hung.
"Do one thing. Clear your history. Delete your cookies. Defrag your hard drive. Run a virus check. Restart your computer... ."

8. 'Out of station'

"Sorry I can't talk right now, I'm out of station."

"What a coincidence, Vijay, I'm in a station right now."

Another blast from the past, this one, and also, extremely outdated.

What's wrong with "out of town" or "not in Bombay" or my favorite - "I'm not here"?

9. The big sleep

"I'm going to bed now, sleep is coming."

"OK, say hi to it for me."

While a fan of anthropomorphism, I do have my limits. "Sleep is coming" is taking things a bit too far. Your life isn't a poem. You don't have to give body cycles their own personalities.

10. 'Prepone'

Let's prepone the meeting from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Because the opposite of postpone just has to be prepone, right?

"Prepone" is probably the most famous Indianism of all time; one that I'm proud of, and that I actually support as a new entry to all English dictionaries. Because it makes sense. Because it fills a gap. Because we need it. We Indians, damn it. Students of chaos theory.

We don't have the time to say silly things like "could you please bring the meeting forward."

Prepone it is.

There are many more pure grammatical "gems" in what we call Indian English. Perhaps in time I'll list some more. And perhaps in the near future, we'll get better at English.

Till then, kindly adjust.

Daniel D'Mello currently lives and works in Mumbai, where he enjoys reading, writing, planning trips, taking photos, attending gigs, catching up on films and T.V. and taking a keen interest in animal behavior.

jeudi, juillet 30, 2009

Interactive Guardian map of the detained in Iran

From The Guardian, 29 July 2009:

A month ago today, the Guardian began an attempt to record the names and faces of those killed or imprisoned in Iran since the 12 June election – and we asked you to help, locating the blogs, Facebook profiles and news stories connected with those in the protests against what was claimed as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory.

Iran's official figures for the six weeks since the election include 2,500 arrests in Tehran alone, with as many as 150 still in jail and 30 dead. The true figures are believed to be much higher – the death toll could be in the hundreds.

Our figures come from human rights groups and campaigners inside and outside Iran, news reports and our users. They are: 80 dead, around 750 still detained, just under 100 released and 10 missing or not heard of since the mid-June protests.

Iran yesterday announced the release of 140 people from Evin prison, the Tehran jail where many of the protesters and opposition figures were held. We do not know at present who these people were; if you do please use this form to tell us.

The detained include students, members of the main opposition parties, former members of ex-president Mohammad Khatami's reformist administration, campaigners for Ahmadinejad's main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, journalists and bloggers. Over the last few weeks, human rights lawyers have been detained too – Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a founder member of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's Human Rights Defenders Centre, was arrested with several colleagues while Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and women's rights activist, was seized on the street and bundled in to a car just under two weeks ago.

Tomorrow is the 40th day since the shooting of Neda Agha Soltan, an important marker in the Shia Islam practised in Iran. Mousavi and other opposition leaders have asked permission to hold a public mourning ceremony.

You can see the full list of those believed killed or detained and download a spreadsheet here. If you have any information and can help us, contribute using this form.

mardi, novembre 04, 2008

Obamarama (Funk meets the muse)

image courtesy of

My brother is in Chicago today, reporting for the Election.

My other brother, who's never really cared about "the voting thing" before, decided to fly out too. Maybe have a beer, be a part of the party: He's now a registered voter.

A couple other buddies decided to join them both. Along with a million other people, or so.

The momentum (or rather, this movement) is electrifying. And in speaking to my brothers, what they are hearing, seeing, being a part of:

Anticipation? Palpable. Engagement? Uprecedented. How people are mobilising? Imagine. We've never seen an Election shaped this way.

Which brings me to this. Heard it today. It seemed to just, simply, really capture:

Lee Dorsey / Allen Toussaint, mixed to Obama's remarks after he won the Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina.
And, of course, there is this too: will. i. am : Read the notes on it. Creative. Cool. Historic.
The Election results won't start tallying in until about six hours from now. Even so: It's happening. It's here. This is history. . .