Monday, January 28, 2008

Towards more picturesque speech

If you know me at all, you know how I love language. I speak quite a few fluently, though this is not as impressive as it sounds; after all I grew up in India. Over a score of official languages, thousands of dialects, and as unendingly interesting as a crazy quilt. The thing is that though my mother tongue (defined as such by the fact that both my parents spoke it) is Tamil, I am nowhere as proficient in Tamil as I am in English. In every sense, though I am Indian born and raised, English has always been and will always be my first language.

It's not that I don't feel a pang of regret that I only read Tamil with difficulty and don't know enough of its grammar to write it at all. Maybe someday I'll even try to remedy this. But as a first language English is so wild, so crazy, so fascinating, so ever-changing, and need I mention so damned useful; that on the whole I'm jolly glad I'm very proficient in it.

My Monday mornings are made more endurable by reading my word of the day, and the always
entertaining AWADmail, with contributions from AWAD readers. Today brought this gem:

"English is the product of a Saxon warrior trying to make a date with an Angle bar-maid, and as such is no more legitimate than any of the other products of that conversation." H. Beam Piper in "Fuzzy Sapiens"

Now isn't that the most picturesque speech you've encountered all day?


Debra said...

Hrm. I wonder if anyone ever conducted a story on how the english language has changed to attract the opposite (or same) sex?

I remember reading a book in middle english when I was a kid-- and it was nearly intolerable. Dramatic changes in just a few hundred years.

On Saturday my mom asked again, "What did she say about Iron Fillings???"

re: Maya is attracted to jewelry like iron fillings to a magnet. :)

Miss T said...

Hey Deepa, nice meeting you on Sunday!

Vidhya said...

I think the only people in the world are Tamil people who say they cannot speak their own language. Macaulay would feel proud in his grave.