Crazy language

The other day, a friend of mine made an observation that he found English language crazy. To support his case, he said that in English language, the fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing. The usual ‘but’ and ‘put’ pronunciation difference followed to buttress his argument. While agreeing with him up to a point, I told him that we Indians have contributed massively to make the already a crazy language crazier. This is how.

The other day, an acquaintance of mine turned up unannounced and out of politeness, I offered him a glass of beer. His response: I have no habits. It took me sometime to realise that what he meant was that he has no bad habits like drinking and smoking. I am sure that you have received invitations soliciting your gracious presence to bestow warm blessings to the newly married couples as if, without this conditions, ungracious we will turn up with the coldest blessings taken straight from the freezer.

We Indians have a propensity for verbosity. Propensity, by the way, means preference and verbosity stands for long winded approach to writing or speaking. The corporate citizens have done their own bit to complicate the language by their need to impress and you hear statements like ‘configuration of interpersonal relationship in this company leaves much to be desired.’ Or the ‘receptivity of change in this organisation is sub minimal.’  Their net net and bottom line means summary or conclusion.

We Indians look for difficult words when simple ones will do. For example, modify instead of change, reveal for show, subsequent for latter, at an early date for soon, held a meeting for met, corpulent for fat. Small words can hold large thoughts when big words get bogged down is what a wise person has said in support of simplicity.
Aren’t we the ones who invented the phrase answering the call of nature? Going to toilet was not enough for us. Thank God, the use of the phrase, I have the honour to state is now gradually disappearing.

Give me Churchillian or Maugham style any day for both these authors believed that in language, less is more. Let us speak or write in a manner that even a high school dropout can understand.

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