It's a 'mad' world

Till a few years ago, I took immense pride in the fact that I was a student of English literature and that I spoke proper Queen’s English. Following established rules of grammar and using standard English in my speech and writing was my second nature. I always looked for ways to improve my usage of English words. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ came naturally to me while the use of slang was sacrilegious.

Alas! I only have fond memories of those good ol’ times when Queen’s English ruled the roost. These days, the rules of grammar are happily flung out of the window. You mention appropriate use of language and you have people gawking at you like you’ve grown two horns. The more conversational your written style is, the more ‘cool’ you’re considered to be. Fracturing the occasional rule of proper grammar is ‘in’ and so you are allowed to end sentences with prepositions or dangle a modifier in a purely technical sense.

If breaking rules of grammar is one thing, the usage of words considered as hep is another. My nine-year-old refers to that paper ‘thingy’ on the wall strewn with colours all over it while she’s telling me about a similar ‘thingy’ she saw at her friend’s place and then she wants me to chuck my old smoke-bellowing ‘thingy’ for one of those new zero-emission ‘thingies’.

Even as I grapple with my comprehension of ‘thingies’ comes the ‘act off’ salvo. While the new girl in her class ‘acted off’ too much with her new age pencil box, Abid, the class bully, had a good fall trying to ‘act off’ too much with his new stunts on the bench. My attempts at ‘acting off’ too much with my knowledge of ‘proper’ English to teach her the ‘proper’ use of words have failed miserably. I have conceded defeat without ‘acting off’ too much.

Just the other day, I was shaken out of my cozy world when I lost count of the number of times my li’l one used ‘mad’ during the course of her conversation through the day. The word, whose utterance itself was considered blasphemous for me through my college days, was used almost in every other sentence of hers. However, the meaning altered favourably with the context. Now, that was a consolation. When used in anger, she frowned, and when used in jest, she beamed one of her naughtiest smiles ever. Her silky hair that was swept by the wind was ‘mad’, the corner of the table that scratched her smooth skin was ‘mad’ and so was the ball that escaped her dribbling.

Probably I am mad to expect the present generation to stick to Queen’s English. Long live the mad thingy that acts off too much!

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