Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mind Your Language (Part 2: The Desi Version)

It has been over a month since my vacation started and my new friends Boredom and Sleep deserted me leading me to make this post. When it comes to English, Indians add their own unique flavor to it, just like Manchurian which doesn't have anything Chinese in it except may be its name.(For people who don't know what Manchurian is, it is a gourmet specialty offered in most Indian restaurants under the Chinese category, while it has nothing remotely Chinese in it. It can be roughly described as a main course of oil, with a modest combination of cauliflower and garlic on the side.)  While my style of posting has become cliched of late, it is something that you have to contend with when my friend boredom deserts me.

The following are some phrases which find usage only in India.

What’s your good name?
This is a question one you may encounter only in India. Native English speakers may find the usage of good before name puzzling, but it is there because, in India, we believe that everyone is baptized with a perfect name and no name is considered bad, although some people do end up hating their names as your good name is something that you are stuck with for life. So retorting this question with give me a bad name, may not be a good idea.

Out of Station
This is a phrase which means out of town in India. This phrase came into existence because James Watt wrote in his will that he shall be honored with a phrase in English language relating to the steam engine. Indians decided to honor this by considering every town as a Station, the way the railways regard it to be.

The actual reason for the use of this phrase goes to the days of the East India company where officers were posted on particular stations.

Give an Exam
Teachers give exams to students, but in India, it is somewhat the other way around. Here students give exams (to teachers?).It is because we have a very strong give and take policy here. The validity of the above statement can be proved from the following statements : 
Students take knowledge from teacher, they give it back in examinations. 
Thus students give exams.

While there are a lot of phrases that are unique to India the above three are my favorites. In an attempt to shorten my posts I am concluding here.

P.S On an entirely different note you might want to read the first part of Mind Your Language here.


  1. There are people who bask in the glory of their knowledge of English language but such phrases are used by them too! :D

  2. This is such a good post! Informative, interesting... I hope you find time to do more.

  3. @Varsh Agree with you on that...most people however I guess are not aware of the fact that these phrases do not exist in native English as such...some like whats your good name being a result of direct translation

    @Kris Thanks for the visit...and the facts mentioned in the posts are not for real...or at least I hope not...they were just meant as a fun way of looking into a language that has a few trademark phrases of Indian-ness..

  4. Interesting..I like the origin of 'out of station' the best I think..:) I hope you are bored and sleepless more often so that we get to read some good stuff fairly regularly...;)

  5. Interesting tidbits. I had never heard of any of these.

  6. Interestingly amusing analysis there, dear Mr. Analyst! :-)

    And by the by, I don't think, it's a good idea to "conclude your posts in an attempt to shorten them" especially when you're plugging away at something so juicy... ;-) Cheers!

  7. @Journomuse I hope I can do better without being bored and sleepless

    @LWB Again, as I said only in India

    @Shrinath Longer posts kills readership, or so I have heard, that's why I am desperate on shortening my posts.

  8. Only in India do we give not take exams.

    "Out of station" always on a leave application.

  9. Interesting! :) Enjoyed reading it. The collection of phrases is nice.

  10. @Purba I guess these phrases are never used elsewhere, out of station is very very common in leave applications.

    @Chandrika Thanks for dropping by

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  12. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.