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Old 12th February 2008, 01:13   #586
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Originally Posted by condor View Post
That's possibly because we often do not speak a language. We Translate into the language from our primary (not necessarily native) language.
Saw this pretty late. Since my work has a bit to do with this, I see this happening everyday.

Native speakers of English learn to speak the language (from their parents) as they are growing up. Then they go to school and learn to write the same language.

A non-native speaker learns to speak his mother-tongue as he is growing up. Then he goes to school and he learns English for the first time. But he learns the language the umm... written way. And he learns it in the same way native speakers learn it. 'A' for Apple, 'B' for Boy and so on.

The Native speaker knows what "Boy" means, and what "Apple" means. But the non-native speaker is learning the alphabet, as well as the word that is given as an example of where the alphabet is used -- both for the first time. So he takes longer to get the hang of the language, and he also learns the language the wrong way.

The right way of learning any language (while intending to build skill in using it on a daily basis) is to learn it the spoken way first, and then the written way.

Coming to the specific thing that Condor was speaking about, a native speaker of Hindi would first think "Mujhe neend aa raha hain", translate the words to "For me sleep is coming", then format the translated words into the syntax and usage followed by English and say "I'm feeing sleepy".

Now, this is in the case of a person well educated and familiar with English. Someone who is not that familiar with using English may end up saying something else altogether in the end (most likely a literal translation of the native language into English). Most languages have their special ways: "Mein 1000/- ka DD nikalke aapko bhej doonga" becomes "I will remove a DD of 1000/- and send it to you" etc., etc.

Many people are also not familiar with the ways of the English language -- simply due to lack of exposure to it. But a lot of people, even if they learn English pretty late, get good at the language after getting familiar with how it is actually used (by reading books, watching movies, interacting with people who use proper English).

People who do not get familiar with how English is actually used (and whose knowledge of English is limited to their English text-books), end up saying "You will need to ascend the stairs and turn to your right to reach the Men's room" (with every word spoken distinctly and individually). People who do get familiar with the 'way of English', would say "(Just) walk up the stairs and you'll see the Men's room to your right". Or "The Men's room? Right up the stairs. You'll see it to your right".

This is a very peripheral explanation, covering a small aspect of the issues involved in non-native speakers of English learning the language are concerned.

Then there is the huge difference between written English, and English as it is really spoken. Loooong story. And for me sleep is coming now (sic)

Last edited by hydrashok : 12th February 2008 at 01:15.
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Old 12th February 2008, 02:32   #587
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Please do not misunderstand me. I am not a person that holds English in higher regard to our native languages.
Oh no, I was only referring to your expectations from others about english studies in school. rest of it was all in humour.

We had (and I am sure 90% of urban schools have) a local language speaking population, only using english on paper for exams. No, we still did not think in english until some of us decided to work in MNCs. Surrounded by a company of english speaking population, nowdays i find myself looking for correct words in hindi at times.

which reminds me of another incident, once I was speaking in hindi. My relatives from rural UP were also present, so I tried to switch to their language (bhojpuri), but every time ended up speaking english to them. accepted my failure and switched back to hindi again.
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Old 12th February 2008, 10:44   #588
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Fascinating to hear your experiences, guys. As a monoglot Englishman it is a window on a different world for me.

Just to pick up on Sam's example, "Do you have office today?"
it would be acceptable idiom to ask do you have work today? or are you going to the office today?

Grammar is one thing; idiom is another entirely!
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Old 12th February 2008, 11:32   #589
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Originally Posted by Sam Kapasi View Post
BUT - perhaps I was naive in expecting people to read, study and learn subjects in grammatically accurate English (as one will normally find in prescribed text books) and yet not know conversational English.
Sam, it is not the schools (at least the ones I was talking about) dont promote the English language. It is often the enviroment. In Mumbai you will find English medium schools where all languages are taught in English but in the lunch break or at a school function you will find everyone talking in a local language. This is particularly true when one community domniates the student population.

It often is a double edged sword. There are many exceptions, but, in general I have found many who speak their native tounge as well as other local (read as Indian) languages have strong accents and make gramartical errors more easily. Funnily these same people can write quite well going to show that the errors are more due to lack of practice and/or confusion between the rules of the various languages they speak than lack of command over the English language.

This beings me to one of my pet peeves...
My mother has a friend who is Austrian. She is living in Mumbai and has been married to a Sindhi gentleman for over 40 years. Every christmas (for the past 40 years) she has her in-laws over and all these people speak in Sindhi (despite most of them being very learned and all of them being fluent in English). As a Sindhi it bothers me. My mother's friend is left out of the conversation.

The same has happened to me many times (in India) so I have learned to zone out and not visit Earth untill i hear something I understand. Funnilly my German friends (I lived in Germany for some time) always make it a point to speak in English (which they are not totally comftoable in) when I am around (which is why I know little German). Many of my Indian friends dont bother.

Last edited by navin : 12th February 2008 at 11:38.
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Old 12th February 2008, 12:04   #590
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Originally Posted by navin View Post
My mother has a friend who is Austrian. She is living in Mumbai and has been married to a Sindhi gentleman for over 40 years. Every christmas (for the past 40 years) she has her in-laws over and all these people speak in Sindhi (despite most of them being very learned and all of them being fluent in English). As a Sindhi it bothers me. My mother's friend is left out of the conversation.
After 40 years of marriage to a Sindhi she can't understand Sindhi, that too living in Mumbai? Is it because of lack of trying?

There was a Tamil girl in my office in 1996, she had freshly moved to Bangalore from a small Tamilnadu town. She didn't know a word of Kannada. A year later she fell in love and married a local colleague. When I met the couple again in 1998 in USA, I was shocked to see her hold near perfect conversation in Kannada. If one is constantly exposed to a language, I feel it is hard not to pickup the language.

My recently deceased aunt who lived 50 years of her married life in Mumbai could speak better Marathi and Hindi than her mother tongue Tulu. In fact her Tulu was always sprinkled with Marathi words.

Hmm, I think we are getting away from English grammar which is the real topic here...
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Old 12th February 2008, 15:13   #591
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Quote:
Samurai : After 40 years of marriage to a Sindhi she can't understand Sindhi, that too living in Mumbai? Is it because of lack of trying?
A very common trait. Learning a new language isn't impossible. We just need to give it a start and things will flow.

I've lived in Mumbai for a few years - long enough to have learnt Marathi. But when I moved out of Mumbai, Imy Marathi wasn't any better than when I first moved to Mumbai. Most of the last four months has been in Gujarat, and I still havent got down to atleast start learning the language.

Last edited by condor : 12th February 2008 at 15:14.
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Old 12th February 2008, 16:10   #592
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I want to know how Samurai wangled his way into a convent school?

Give me another 40 years and I just might be able to string a sentence together in Tamil.
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Old 12th February 2008, 16:58   #593
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I want to know how Samurai wangled his way into a convent school?
Thad, in India lots of convent schools are co-ed facilities. Therefore, don't go by international norm.
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Old 12th February 2008, 19:14   #594
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Oh... This is, obviously, something I don't know much about; I'm just vaguely aware of a couple of the best girls' colleges in Chennai, and I'm pretty sure they are not.

co-ed --- the civilised way to go. I wish my education had been: left me seriously disadvantaged. Although my family background is not religious, I did attend a Roman Catholic school, run by priests, for a couple of years. It certainly was not co-ed at the time, but I believe that it is now, forty years later. Things change, thank goodness!

Errrr... back to the topic...
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Old 13th February 2008, 08:36   #595
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Samurai : Thad, in India lots of convent schools are co-ed facilities. Therefore, don't go by international norm.
Most 'Convent' schools (that I have come across) in India are schools run by/associated with a Christian organization - but do not teach religion.
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Old 13th February 2008, 12:41   #596
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"Kindly help us to keep this mall clean" - This is amusing !! How can we kindly help you ?

Shouldn't it be - "Please help keep this mall clean" or even better "Help us keep the mall clean"

Experts ???
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Old 13th February 2008, 18:44   #597
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After 40 years of marriage to a Sindhi she can't understand Sindhi, that too living in Mumbai? Is it because of lack of trying?
I think if there is a will there always is a way. I remember a recent occasion when I happened to be in the panel interviewing a candidate for a post located in Tamil Nadu. The post calls for some interaction with locals in Tamil. Asked how he, a Bihari, would manage the linguistic issue, bang came the reply: "Pachees din mein seekh lenge"!! Most of us don't learn a new language for the simple reason that there is no compelling need for us to do it. Quite often, we can manage things with English. Added to that is the disdainful attitude towards a language (often loca) other than one's mother tongue.
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Old 13th February 2008, 18:50   #598
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This is amusing !! How can we kindly help you ?
Normally_Crazy, I don't see anything wrong there. Kindness is something you attribute to others. Please help us and kindly help us mean the same thing; the latter is a bit formal, that's all.
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Old 13th February 2008, 22:14   #599
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I'd rather have Kindly help us to keep this Mall clean than Thank You For Not Smoking.
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Old 14th February 2008, 01:00   #600
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listening to american national public radio.

Is it true that 'n' is silent in 'column' but not in 'columnist'?
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