“Drawing on my command of language, I said nothing”. Anonymous
Quite a few postings have had emerged on the Blog scene in recent past about the privileged ways of the usage of the privileged language that only a privileged few could call their own until not so long ago- “the Anglo- Saxon English”! There was derision, fun and fascination laced in those postings and comments that followed. Though a section of the gentry in the former colonies of the Empire and that can include India may feel outraged at the way many of us speak, write English language, there is certainly often immense jocularity and tongue in cheek comments that can enliven a situation when a faux pas is committed in the terminology and usage of that language. In fact that may be the case with all languages. Sometimes some may consider the gaffe an offense .Using language as if in an inebriated state may be sometimes inappropriate and the late Professor Sri Krishnan Nair had very often mauled such use. His comments on such matters have also put the lid to the many self styled linguistic e experts. The funny moments happen when people with less expertise or knowledge of a language use it and without the slightest iota of doubt of the correctness, or fearing no embarrassment.
However being a person with ordinary skills in language, be it English, my mother tongue ,or any other language, I find certain bumbling very interesting to laugh over and ease stress that often shadows life.
Some funny moments and acrobatics with the use of language happened quite some time ago. The central figure in question may be referred to in pseudonym, RP. He hailed from Tamilnad and was not a safe person with neither Malayalam nor English. And he was known to me from the days I worked in Cochin. During one of my journeys on short vacation to Thiruvananthapauram, I and C alighted at RP’s house. It was some time since I met him and his wife who was a wonderful expert of south Indian Bhramin cuisine.
The culinary fantasies she created in traditional south Indian food were a gourmet’s delight and RP used to invite me and the Directors whenever they descended from New Delhi. Often in all those dinners meetings her food was raved and lavished with praise. It was truly so! And in one of those dinner occasions RP got much carried over by the extolments showered on his wife that he made a statement that he thought was ipso facto and unquestionable. He asserted in his loud oratory voice, “My friends as you all know my wife is a good cooker”. Was there a moment of shocked agape? I do not remember.
Now going back to the brief visit, I and C was into. We were all seated in the living room and exchanging pleasantries and catching up with stories that happened since we met last. Just then a tall – well over six feet, fair and charming young man walked in. He acknowledged us with a demure nod and went in. I asked, “RP, who is that handsome fellow who went in”? He said, “Ha-ha athu nammade K ,alle.Ninaku masilayille”? (Ha-ha, did you not see, it is our K, don’t you remember). I was indeed pleasantly shocked to know that the tall, young and hand- some fellow was the little K, whom I last saw when he was five. The 'enfant terrible' that he was! I was amazed and said loudly, “RP that is wonderful, but my goodness, I cannot help being awed- how tall he has grown”!
RP’s retort made me freeze, and wish the ground beneath broke apart and sucked me down under and I eyed C, a bit shyly and nervously. RP’s good wife was acknowledging his statement. He said, “athu pinne ninte height alle”! (Well he has certainly taken after your height, don’t you know).
This episode when often quoted by C and I wish that she does in jest!
RP was a fast driver both of the two- wheeler and car. He has had quite a few brushes and had crashed, fortunately with little or not very serious damage, bodily. One day he was explaining to a few people his latest adventures. He had crashed his car just a few days back and he explained in a riveting statement what happened. He said, “you see, my car went and ‘hitted a tree’, I can do nothing”. (!)