Skip to main content

Understanding English


Every Thursday, a motley group of 15 of us sit down at the CAE (Centre for Adult Education) in the city and discuss English threadbare. The trouble with English is, the more I study, the more confused it makes me.

Why do I have to choose between a passive and an active voice, or why is active voice important than passive and vice versa? Meaning, would you say, ‘the angry dog barks all day ‘or would you choose a pithy ‘dog barks’.  In school we were taught to learn by heart certain things: that a noun is a name of a person, place or thing; a verb is an action word; and an adverb adds to the verb. Our adult life goes into working out what in a sentence is a verb or an adverbial phrase. Example: The hungry dogs bark loudly all day long and make me crazy. Is crazy a verb or is it an adverbial phrase? And what makes the class even more interesting is that our teacher Margaret Geddes, writer and journalist, herself says, “Well, we will figure out as we go along.”

I like the class for its informality and variety in the students. Two in the class have already written novels and are waiting to publish them. Why would they study English, if they have already written novels, I wonder? The same anyone would ask me, why study the same you have studied. Well, it is my attempt at discerning the types of English prevalent in the world.

In our introductory session, I remember someone saying he wants to explore urban tales, probably a new genre of writing which comes with writing on the internet. I hadn’t heard of it and was enlightened as much as my 50 something classmate was about the word LOL, which is now in the oxford dictionary. She always thought LOL meant Lots Of Love, and invariably signed off every email with it. To top it all, a friend had put up her status update on Facebook saying her father passed away. She had immediately commented, “So sorry to hear that. LOL.” Of course, she didn’t mean to laugh out loud. It’s unforgiving English.

I can’t wait for the Thursday class and Friday when I meet Deepak Chopra, Reid Tracy, Rachael Bermingham and others at the Writer’s Workshop and take some gyan on writing and publishing. xxxooo

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Mad Man Or A Boor

What does one do when one encounters a mad dog? Or what does one do when one encounters a man with pre-fixed notions about everything in life, most specifically of women who live alone and give him some importance? The two are equivalent to me and basic intelligence says avoid the paths they tread like plague. But I chose to tackle them head on. I almost got rabbies.

The mad man said [sic] "You sound like a very desperate person. A single and frustrated woman who is looking for anyone to leave a comment on your blog so much so that you wouldn't even spare a spammer." Spammer being, the first comment on the previous post is apparently a spam, an advert for T-shirts. Bummer! I thought it was a handsome Spaniard or Latino, so I had replied "Hi Rodrigo", hoping to take the conversation forward offline. Anyway! All this the mad man found out. I didnt. Sure, I dig comments because I love the spontaneity and intelligence of my friends. And I didn't invite the mad m…

Them Versus Us

Taking off from the Shilpa 'Shitty' issue (I love the surname and that comes from my ever so humorous and intellectual friend Latha or Lotty with love and Angel No. 1 to some :)), here are some reflections on being a north easterner in the capital of the world's largest democracy. Also, Lotty, on a serious note, says I should have a NE angle to what I write. She has a point. I have enough material there, enough to give vent to.

I begin with 'oye Chinky'. When I came to Delhi in the mid 1990s to do a professional course, I wasn't sure what the word meant. Maybe I was too busy paying heed to my new found independence and the certain sense of security -- the fact that I could go to the market even at 10 pm without the peering eyes of the army or the CRPF personnel patrolling the streets and stiffling our existence. It wasn't until my course was over and I got myself a break as a sub editor with the country's premier news agency, that I had my first hand exp…

Glam Gurumaa

Have you ever met a so called godwoman or godman in person? Well I did and I have to talk about this one. On Tuesday night, I got a call asking if I would like to come and meet Anandmurti Gurumaa. My knowledge about ‘spiritual people’ as they would like to call themselves is zero because I have never taken interest in their ilk and India being full of conmen in the garb of spiritualists you tend to look at them with suspicion. I had a friend who stayed for weeks at a house cramped with people in a shady lane in Delhi and they were all fighting and scrambling for the baba’s attention. The baba would perform pujas during the evenings, make them drink and wash with ashes and they would pour heaps of money buying the essentials. The people went to him for all reasons – to sort marital discords, business failures, illnesses, and even vengeance on enemies! It was frightful. I had gone to meet the friend but after a few hours scooted away more scared I would pick a bug from the unhygienic su…