Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.

Lost In Translations#501

TO has an accent. We’re not sure which country it belongs to. It’s a relic mishmash of whatever animated programs he’s grown up watching. 

He, however, doesn’t know Hindi; a language he loves listening to songs in. His pronunciations are decidedly foreign and poor dear Alexa often has problems deciphering what he wants.

The new addition on the playlist is Dilbar. TO pronounces it as Dill(the herb)+Bar(the place where people go for a drink). Needless to say Alexa’s response of, “I don’t know about the DILL-BAR. Dill is a herb ah blah blah and bar is either blah blah blah”, wasn’t unforseen. By moi. TO was part- disappointed and part-annoyed that Alexa wasn’t “getting” it.

I was called in to speak Alexan and translate the song name into something darling Alexa could make sense of and finally when the song played I got the epithet of “My favorite mother’ and a hug…the rewards of a job done perfectly.

Hang on…I have to go again…someone’s trying to tell Alexa that there’s something called  ‘Abytoepaarteeshoeroueeaye’. My translator’s ears are picking up signs that it may be Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. I’d better unconfuse the gadget before she blows a fuse.

Ta!

Of Romance and Fried Eyeballs

Four years ago I wrote this blog post and I’m still laughing about it. Sometimes all the way to the loo because when Red ends up being funny inadvertently, it’s bad for my bladder.

One of the biggest yarns ever spun in my home is about Red getting a 92 in Hindi many moons ago. Anyone who knows him knows that to be the biggest crock of malarkey. Ever.Not surprisingly, no documentation of this mythical “92” has ever been seen.

Every now and then I’ll listen to a couple of mellow, Hindi songs which particularly pluck at my romantic vein. And that’s when Red strikes. With a seemingly innocuous question, a guileless face and completely out of the blue, he’ll make me go from a mellowed out woman to someone who looks like this- Image result for dafuq gif

Tonight was no different. I was looking up the lyrics to Roz Roz Aankhon Tale. Now it’s not entirely phonetically spelt out in English, I accept, but the husband cottoned onto just ONE word from the entire song, took it out of context and changed the meaning from love to cannibalism in one fell swoop!

“Taley” in Hindi means below, underneath. Talna means to fry. Somehow, Mr.92-in-Hindi grabbed onto that random memory from his vast, spacious vault of Hindi vocabulary and asked me, “Doesn’t tale mean fried?” And now, instead of remembering Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle’s mellifluous duet, I’ll see eyeballs sizzling on a skillet.

Don’t be too surprised if I walk around zombie-like after sometime and turn into Cole Sear and say 

substituting eyeballs of course!Image result for eyeballs gif

 

 

 

Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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Ps&Qs

I constantly swing back and forth from amusement to annoyance when helping my son with his homework. Especially his language homework.

My own language “skills” are middling to not-bad-at-all and my pronunciation of words (especially the word pronunciation) is usually correct. Of course Red did tell me that I’d been pronouncing ‘Audi’ and ‘apropos’ wrong my whole life and then sniggered his pert behind out of the room. In my defence I’ve hardly ever pronounced apropos; mainly used it in my emails and writing so there!

Anyhoo, the offspring gets help with learning his words phonetically. And while saying them out loud every now and then his eyes glaze over and I know he’s in the land where Korra the Avatar exists and his mother’s voice correcting him is a drone that he can relegate to the background and forget. And while doing so he mispronounces a sound he’s been saying 10xs over in the last few minutes. That’s when my angry eyes come into play…

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See, the thing is this…I was taught English (my adopted 1st language) by crusty nuns who had no compunction about rapping delicate young knuckles HARD with their even harder rulers and following that up with DAMN-YOU-TO-HELL looks for mispronouncing words or not speaking the Queen’s English; never mind that the grand dame hadn’t been our queen since well before we were born or the nuns themselves were supposed to embody compassion and not be more like her! Psst….follow arrows down

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My flesh and blood warbles while he reads, fluctuates between accents (courtesy yours truly and Youtube) and affects a sing-song reading style which would have earned me an entire class on my knees had I dared to read things any differently.

For those of us brought up on Wren&Martin ,English (the British variant) correctly isn’t a matter of choice. It’s a way of life. Add to it a few years of English literature classes where you’re liberally applying your penchant for poetry and prose with panache while being taught by teachers wearing a pince nez and you are stuck with correcting peoples’ pronunciation for life.

And you know it’s a bordering a disease when you’re correcting it in your head when you can’t do it aloud.

Alliteratively Yours,

Moi

P.S: This bit from My Fair Lady is rather apt for this post methinks…

Movie Review: Tridev

After a looooooooooong time I turned the telly on last Sunday in a rush thinking I’d missed out on the Oscars and found Tridev was playing.

Released in 1989 and a blockbuster by the yardstick prevalent back in the day; the movie is a laugh and minute even during the scenes which are supposed to be very high on the emotional quotient.

Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher and a plethora of other chamaktey sitaarey (shining stars) of the era come together to make a 2 hour plus movie which is replete with the all the symbols of the 80s; and therefore was a total trip down nostalgia alley for me.

These are the tropes in the movies of the 80s and early 90s that I remember vividly-

  • Minimum 3-4 outfit changes for the female lead in the course of a song.
  • Each outfit quite outlandish and fairly garish and gaudy.
  • Villains are OTT evil and had to have a trademark evil laughter. Said trademark had to occur with each evil soliloquy.
  • Women are props. Used to pretty up a scene or as lures to get the male lead to come and duke it out with the bad guy. Women also need to sing during their captivity.
  • The police always arrive after everything ends and essentially are clean-up crews.
  • The back-up dancers are drab-faced people who end up dancing either like they are on meth or are stoned and never vary from either of these two extremes.
  • There is *always* love at first sight.
  • Love is expressed via song. At Least twice. First time: Initial expression. Second time: Reiteration.
  • The fight sequence is totally of comic book proportions without the blurbs spelling out the KAPOWS.
  • Each time anyone gets hit, they fly through the air a la The Matrix and the resulting sound effect is LOUD!
  • There is no anti-hero: there is black or white.
  • There is a weird depiction of a jungle tribe replete with loin cloths, tiger-striped clothing and jungle drums.
  • The jungle tribe utters inane stuff like Jinga Lala Boom etc.
  • Party scenes are usually where everyone is standing still like statues and one person moving about tipsy and singing an alcohol-related song.
  • Patriotism is also OTT.
  • The level and diction of the spoken Hindi is far superior than that spoken these days.
  • The music is catchy and unashamedly borrowed (bits and pieces) from dance hits famous overseas.

Since the advance in special effects hadn’t happened to the extent it has nowadays, things looked made-up and really clichéd but still entertained in a way many movies of today don’t.

While I may have laughed at Sunny Deol’s “angst” at finding his dead father, Amrish Puri’s Bhujang-avatar or even Sangeeta Bijlani’s determination to find her dead brother’s killer by becoming a gangster’s moll; the fact remains is that those movies entertain!

Oye oye!

Image courtesy- madaboutmoviez.wordpress.com

 

Disambiguation: Need Of The Hour

My son can be a lazy lump. Anything that requires more effort than he’s prepared to put in; gets shoved under the rug (literally and figuratively) and often outsourced to us.

He’s starting to make some strides in reading now and today’s homework has words that distinguish the gender between people viz mother-father, brother-sister et al. That it doesn’t address the third gender type didn’t worry me much. He still mixes up his right and left shoe so am sure we have long walk ahead of us before we tackle that topic.

I was super happy when he wanted to add to the list by bringing in the animal kingdom. So we sat down and started writing out the animals names which have separate terms for their hes and shes. We did the usual ones..lion-lioness, tiger-tigress when my son started naming all sorts of weird “girl-animals”. In order to show him how not everything is called a girl-fox or a girl-whale I told him to look up what a female fox is called; because let’s admit it…if I say thing is white he won’t rest until half the world aka the internet has confirmed it as well.

Now comes the laziness part. He didn’t type it in but used OK Google instead.and got the answer- vixen. Yay for technology and all that jazz.

Then the lump decides to see how vixens look because he thought the girl animals will be different from boy animals (not sure if he was expecting big bows in the hair and whatnot) and told OK Google, “show me vixen” and that’s when a small child’s mouth dropped open because that particular command brought up all manner of busty, latex-clad women instead of the demure, orange-fur fox.

Thankfully he doesn’t have “boy” hormones yet and made a face and asked Google to show him the girl fox. Google apparently does have boy hormones because it showed him girl f****. And after a heated struggle between mother-child and an under-attack laptop I yelled out Jesus Christ!! GIRL FOX!  That too was a bad call because Google turned up images of Jesus Christ of Fox…whatever that means; and studly men appeared in the search.

After that it was a toss-up who was going to be airborne- my BP or the laptop; out the window. And so I counted to 20 in my native tongue and found that it didn’t help a bit. In the meanwhile a small child was wondering why his already excitable mother was looking to strangle the laptop and he started tip-toe away. I hauled him back, opened up Google and asked him to type out ‘what is a female fox called’ with his stubby little fingers and LO and BEHOLD! Eureka and all the gang appeared and there were vixens and foxes raining like manna from the heavens. There were National Geographic picture quality ones, even some Disney ones thrown in for good measure and finally I could breathe again.

Until I heard him evoke Google again saying, “show me a girl whale”. I rushed back in time to see whales AND massive thongs and butt cracks appear on the screen.

Gods of Google: Please put in a disambiguate plug-in for the sake of my sanity.