Vani’s Musings

Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

One of my colleagues, P is taking an examination which requires her to study Julius Ceasar.

Last evening, P and I were doing an analysis of the various characters of the play, and we came to Marc Anthony.

I think his speech at Ceasar’s funeral describes him best.

It was also one of the pieces we had to learn at our school elocution competitions.

Here it is, just for memory’s sake.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar … The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it …
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral …
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man….
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Brings back all the memories of school days, when we had to mug up this bit, and recite it atleast two dozen times to our English teachers, who would then painstakingly correct the pronounciations, the waxing and waning of the words, the pauses and the continuations.

A Masterpiece is the least I can describe the speech as.


No, I am not speaking of the gifts we exchange during weddings and other events. I want to focus on the importance of communication skills, which play a vital role in interactive forums like trainings, conferences, lectures and their ilk.

 Most of us in our professional life would have come across trainings at least once. I am witness now to one such training program which makes me laugh and cry because of the very poor communication skills of our trainer. 

 We have grown to believe that a teacher is like God, but unfortunately, many teachers, or people in associated industry have really underdeveloped communication skills. They would be masters in their chosen field, but because they cannot communicate well, lose out on reaching their audiences.

 My trainer himself, is equipped with nearly half a dozen degrees, but is extremely bad at speaking grammatically correct English. And he claims to train employees at reputed organizations. I am sure there would be hundreds of nit pickers like me who would concentrate more on his faults and miss out on the vital aspects of what he would want us to understand. Why do this? And it is pretty important to lose your native accent. Why give a clue of which part of the country you belong to by way of speaking English as though you were speaking your native tongue?  Why don’t people give the language the respect it deserves by using it a little more sensitively? 

In the global scenario, it is very important for a person to be as much comfortable with soft skills, as their technical expertise. We cannot present ourselves as a nation that is only technically good but very poor in communication. And I don’t think it is such an uphill task either. After all, English is the language we use to communicate with most part of the world. 

 I feel very guilty that I only find fault, but that’s what catches my attention. And by way of good communication skills, I don’t suggest the use of heavy complicated words in our day to day conversation either. All I feel is they must try to be grammatically correct and ensure that at their age, they must not make silly spelling errors, because their word would be taken very seriously and people would use the same spellings and same language in future when they would be asked to, And then, if there were to be someone pointing out this error, it would reflect very poorly on the trainer. 

My point is this. If you are or want to be a faculty or trainer or just about anyone who is part of an interactive forum, please, please brush up your communication skills and if need be, attend a couple of English speaking classes to hone your talent. It would be of great help in making your audience understand what you want to convey, in a much better manner. 

 It is very similar to serving good food in an unclean vessel. However tasty the food may be, our eyes would warn us not to eat it. Even the simplest dish is made tasty by presenting it in a good manner. 

 How many of you share my feeling or think otherwise? A penny for your thoughts.  

It is very common for people to have pet names and nick names. We all would be very familiar with names like sweety, munni, pinky, chintu, bablu etc.  (some of these pet names are literally those; “pet names”, You can find many naming their pet Pomeranians in the above names). 

We also find that most names that are more than 2 characters long are shortened to a more phonetically easy version…for ex, Madhusudan becomes Madhu, Parimala becomes Pammi, Pankaja becomes Panku, Srinivas becomes Seena and so forth. And this is not just an Indian phenomenon, in the West too, you get to see such shortened names, like Patrick becomes Pat, Jennifer becomes Jenny, Richard becomes Dick, Robert becomes Bob, William becomes Bill….and the list goes on.

 I get ample opportunity to read some really funny nicknames, which are used as aliases by a section of society.

 Here are a few samples. The name Manjunath alone, I have noticed, I guess has the highest number of “Prefixes” attached. I happen to read names like “Manjunath alias —“ the – can be filled up with any or all of the following aliases.

           Blade Manja

          Kathri Manja

          Razor Manja

          Deck Manja

          Don Manja

          Stone Manja

          KoLi Manja

           Anil Kumar alias Idli 

          Srinivasa alias Bhootha Seena

           Kumar alias Pambu 

          Sethu alias Phenyl 

          Raja alias Bikla

           Soma alias Kukka 

The first time I came across these names, I was literally rolling on the floor with laughter but now it is a matter of routine. But I still find it funny and at the same time sad to see some nice names being distorted like this. Most of the people with these nicknames are proud to be identified like this; it gives them a sense of importance. 

We have been so very influenced by these names that almost all of us have a nickname of our own. Now, if someone were to come searching for me, they would have a tough time finding me without my nickname.  

How many of you have some names like this? Let me know. 

Signing off now,  Ta. 

No, this post has nothing to do with loans, or about the specific loan jargon on the bank documents….yeah, in the broad perspective, it is about how a language itself evolves by borrowing from others .

Loanword (or loan word) is a word directly taken into one language from another with little or no translation. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept whereby it is the meaning or idiom that is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort.  Loanwords can also be called, “borrowings.”

 Words which a language inherits from an ancestral language from which it develops are not borrowed words. Inherited words usually constitute most of the vocabulary of a language. Although loanwords are typically far fewer than the native words of most languages (creoles and pidgins being exceptions), they are often widely known and used, since their borrowing served a certain purpose, for example to provide a name for a new invention. 

Our own “Lingua Franca”, English has many such loan words. Here is a small list of such words that we use in daily conversations. Most of us are unaware of the origins of these words, and it is a curious exercise to find out where these words came from.  

  • absolute, from Middle French, compare modern Fr. Absolu
  • academic (Fr. académique)
  • accusative (Old Fr. accusatif)
  • adieu, which literally means “to God” (à Dieu), farewell
  • advertisement, compare avertissement (warning)
  • affair, from Old French, compare modern Fr. affaire (business)
  • Algorithm  from the name of the Persian scientist Khwarazmi
  • Balcony  from balcone (Italian)
  • Bandicoot, from pandikoku (Telugu)
  • Bother (from bodhar, “deaf” or “to deafen”) To annoy or disturb – Irish
  • Cash: from Sanskrit karsa, a weight of gold or silver but akin to Old Persian karsha-, a weight. a unit of value equivalent to one cash coin.

o                    coffee – disputed; either from the Ethiopian region/Kingdom of Kaffa, where coffee originated, or Arabic kahwa

o                    Chit  from Hindi chitthi “a letter, note”,

o                    Dhole, from tOla (Kannada)

o                    Jack fruit from Chakka, (Malayalam )

o                    jive – possibly from Wolof jev (African Origin)

o                    mamba – from Zulu or Swahili mamba

o                    Mongoose, from mungeesa (Telugu) or mungusi (Kannada)

 o                    wee small, tiny, minute. – Scottish 

These are very few of the enormous collection of loan words in the English language. Just goes on to prove that each language shares a symbiotic relationship with others in the world.

 And yes, before I forget, this is my 50th post.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:-
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:

I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought;

 For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils was composed in 1804, two years after he saw the flowers walking by Ullswater on a stormy day with Dorothy.His inspiration for the poem came from an account written by Dorothy. In her journal entry for 15th April 1802 she describes how the daffodils:“Tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake;”

Wordsworth published his poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a Cloud’, in 1807. He later altered it, and his second version, published in 1815, is the one widely known today.

This is one of my most favorite poems. I remember reading this as a part of English Syllabus sometime in Primary School and since then have become a fan of this sort of simple yet rich poetry.

It is one year since our favorite “Annavru” left us.

His voice is something that can be called “Kanchina KanTha”. I salute this humble human being and brilliant personality.

A Gaana Namana to this larger than life persona. I can only use superlatives of all adjectives to describe this soul.

Here is a list of 25 of my favorite Dr Rajkumar Songs

01) jeeva hoovagide -Nee nanna gellalare

02) Beladingalagi Baa – Huliya Haline Mevu

03) Raaga Anuraaga – Sanaadi Appanna

04) Belli Moodithu – Kavi Ratna KaaLidaasa

05) Chaluveya Nota – Shankar Guru

06) Haalalladaru Haaku – Devatha Manushya

07) Cheluveye Ninna Nodalu – Hosa BeLaku

08) Maanikya Veena – Kavi Ratna KaaLidaasa

09) Naadamaya- Jeevana Chaitra

10) Yaava Kaviyu – Bhagyada Lakshmi Baaramma

11) Kalletiginta Ninna – Raja Nanna Raja

12) Haayagi KuLithiru Neenu – Haalu Jenu

13) Kanneera Dhaare – Hosa Belaku

14) Haalu Jenu Ondaada Haage – Haalu Jenu

15) Aaradhisuve – Babruvaahana

16) Vaara Banthamma – Bhagyavantha

17) Baanigondu Elle Ellide – Premada Kanike

18) Mutthinantha Maathondu – Bahaddur Gandu

19) Haayada Ee Sanje – Vasantha Geetha

20) HeLuvudu Ondu – Jwaala Mukhi

21) Jenina Holeyo – Chalisuva Modagalu

22) Love me or hate me – Shankar Guru

23) Le Le Appana Magale – Trimurthi

24) Bisi Bisi Kajjaya – Haavina Hede

25) BaaLu BeLakaayitu -Haalu Jenu

RIP, Annavare. We miss you.

This morning, on a radio channel, I heard a popular proverb, which set me off thinking about the origin of proverbs in language.

 Wiki says “A proverb is a short, generally known sentence of the folk, which contains wisdom, truth, morals, and traditional views in a metaphorical, fixed and memorizable form and which is handed down from generation to generation.” 

In Layman’s terms, it simply is a familiar phrase of a region, which is abundant with meaning and common sense; often an example of some old story or epic is used to depict the phrase for understanding.  Some proverbs are witty, others are scathing. Their purpose remains the same, issuing a warning of sorts to a wayward life. Here are some rare Kannada Proverbs and their meanings. Readers, feel free to add more.

  • ajjige arive chinte, magaLige Maduve chinte
    • Grandma is worried about a piece of cloth to wear; the daughter is worried about marriage
    • This is said of irresponsible youngsters who expect a lot from parents who struggle to make ends meet.

  • ambali kuDiyuvavanige mIse tikkuvanobba
    • (For one who drinks swill there is one to trim his moustache)
    • This is said of people who live beyond their means.

  • bhangi dEvarige henDaguDuka pUjari
    • For the God who is on dope you need a priest who is a drunk.
    • The underlings are usually quite a match for the rogues in power whom they serve.

  • chELige pArupathya koTTa hAge
    • It is like giving authority to a scorpion.
    • If the mean people get into positions of authority they cause a great damage like a scorpion, which needs no reason to sting, would work overtime if asked to do so.

  •  dharmakke daTTi koTTare hittalige hOgi moLa hAkidaru.
    • When a cloth is given for charity it was measured in the backyard
    • Similar to looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  • geddettina bAla hiDida hAge
    • It is like holding the tail of the winning ox.
    • i.e. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

  • gubbi mEle bramhAstravE? 

  •  A Brahmastra on a sparrow?

  • This is said of actions beyond proportion taken on helpless people.

  • hettorige hegNa muddu, kattikondavarige kOdaga muddu

  • A bandicoot is lovely to his parents; a mule is pretty to its mate.
    • This is a wacky statement of the somber truth: Love is blind.

  • Hosa vaidyanigintha haLe rOgine mElu

  • An old patient is better than a new doctor.
  • This stems from a suspicion of inexperienced and untested people with education vis a vis wise, familiar and old fellows of dubious qualifications.

  • hosataralli agasa gONi etti etti ogeda
    • When he was new, the washerman beat the jute bag repeatedly.
    • People who are new on the job work eagerly and enthusiastically until they find their way and slack off.Clothes were washed in villages by Dhobis who took them to a lake, soaked them and bet the hell out of them on a rock to rid of the dirt. The amount of beating was inversely proportional to the value of the cloth. A jute bag hardly deserved attention except by one who was new to the job.

  • hoTTege hiTTilladiddarU juTTige mallige hUvu
    • There is no food to eat but there is jasmine in the crown.
    • Wearing jasmine in the hair is considered elegant for women, especially on their way to a temple or a wedding party. Dressing beyond one’s means is frowned upon as a sign of false pride.

  • HUvina jote nAru svarga sErithu.

The string used to tie the flowers also reached heaven.

Those who are in the company of the noble will reap the benefits by association.