Taming the Queen’s Tongue

Posted: August 20, 2008 in Ohohoho...whaatt-a-funny!
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Strangely adaptive and pliable as all languages are, English is no exception. Incredible, how flexible it makes itself to the whims of its patrons, in their speech and their squiggles. More so among non-native users, which includes us Indians (This is not to imply that the native users are champions of English! Hello? Avar very vown George ‘Dubya’ Bush, I say! He wasn’t conferred the (dis)honourary title of ‘Butcher of the English language’ for nothing!). Despite holding a reputation for being the best non-native speakers of the language, we Indians also tend to weave English into our local vernacular in even quirkier accents, sometimes inadvertently morphing the real meaning or intent behind its usage and sometimes the word/phrase itself is beaten to death! We are perhaps even better known for that! Some of these usages would have anyone in splits, for the way they sound or mean. Let me illustrate a few such twisted usages, malapropisms, weird accents that I have encountered myself, some from friends’ experiences, and some other typical ones.

  • We had a Physics teacher in +2, who would always substitute the alveolar sound ‘T’ as in ‘tea’ with a ‘ch’ as in China (“Would you like some ‘chee’?“, “one, ‘chew‘, three,….., eightch, nine, ‘chen'”). Every time she had to stress on the ‘T’, she would quite audibly and emphatically say ‘ch’. She otherwise spoke good English. Once she missed a class and the next day she explained why – “I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to class yesterday. I had an appointment with the dentist and I had my wisdom tooth removed.” (I’d suggest reading the above quotes the way she would have said it, with a ‘ch’ for ‘t’!) Need I elaborate? Even the most inattentive guy in class felt a jolt when she said that. “What did she just say? Did she just say she had her ‘ch****’ removed? O My God!”, he smirked before bursting into an uncontrollable chortle. I cannot imagine her telling her children about the ‘Tooth fairy’! God help them!
  • The same Physics teacher once assured me, “One moment. I’ll come chew you”, when I stood up for a question during a study session as she was attending to another student! My first instinct was to frantically look for protection! “What if she’s rabid?”, I thought. I panicked too! But as it turned out, my fears were totally unwarranted. She was coming ‘to’ me, not to ‘chew’ me!
  • A prankster student disturbs our en’gross’ing mathematics class and our disgruntled lecturer expresses his vexation saying, “Hullo, lick here”, pointing to the blackboard! He meant to say, “look here”. Also, we never understood what exactly he wanted to raise when he always asked us, “Hullo, can I raise?” before erasing the board. A few of his very common utterances – “Naat nessary” (not necessary), “is eekolt” (is equal to).
  • My friend’s Chemistry teacher from school instructed them during a lab session – “Take Potassium Chloride on a deflagrating spoon and eat it. On excessive eating, you will observe…..”. My friend and his classmates almost had a heart attack, but then they realized she already ate the ‘h’ from ‘heat’!
  • Our Biology teacher from 9th standard insisted on us learning the names of the ‘fecies’ (species) of all the organisms we were studying!
  • A very common investigation aimed at identifying the owner of an unnamed notebook – “Eeyi! Who is this book ‘ma? Whoever it is come to staff room and take it ‘ma. Don’t forget who it is, okay?”
  • An ‘English’ teacher from +2 taught us John Keats’ masterpiece ‘Laa Belly Dam Sans Mercy’…..err….‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’! (O Whaat yails thee, knight-ut-arms, Yellown und palely laayitring? The sedge haas wither’d frum the lake, Und no burrds sing. And our ears bleed! As we listen to him woe-begone!)
  • Our 8th standard ‘English’ teacher wanted us to learn the ‘pony-tics’ of all the new words we came across! I know, so much for all my rants on improper English! *banging forehead against the nearest wall* It was not until later that year that I learnt the actual ‘phonetics’ of the word ‘phonetics’! Some of you may be wondering ‘Guru aisa tho chela kaisa?’, and I don’t blame you! But in spite of my ‘miss’guidance, I guess my English turned out to be fine.
  • A winter morning. A very pretty girl in my class, in 10th standard, was cold and was shivering. Even before I could feel sorry for her, she requested me to “off the fan yaa! Please!”. I could never muster up the courage to speak to her in English again!
  • Another teacher faced with the same situation, reacted thus – “Aeyi! Remove that! Remove that!” as he pointed to the switch!
  • Our principal from +2 was once very disappointed in us over our behaviour in class and conferred on us the title “Dankees und kemmels!” (Donkeys and Camels).
  • A Malayali acquaintance once introduced me to his ‘bust-front’! Now, now don’t let your mind wander away. The guy was only introducing me to his ‘best-friend’! (Thank God!)
  • Now, growing up in the company of such ‘chompions’ of the English language was a task in itself. Engineering first year: Our Inorganic Chemistry professor teaches us about the availability of Sulfur around the world – “Ouruu sulfuruu isuu avai-lay-bull innuu ouruu….ouruu A-mary-ka, very much it is.” Wow! How informative! A student once broke a beaker during a lab session and the professor yelled out – “Whaat ees that ees? Whaat hep-end? Whaat is the break?”
  • One of our college buses proudly sported the name of our institution – “### COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNALAGI” for over a month until the college administration was informed of the reckless ‘flaw’nting! Hell no! I’m not disclosing the name of our college. This was disgraceful enough!
  • On a hot summer’s day, a classmate in Engineering complained – “O My Goooood! The sun is falling into my eyes! Please close the window no?”
  • You know how some people are sticklers for the flawless Wren-and-Martin-English grammar doctrines. So much so, that sometimes their steadfast adherence borders on redundant redundancy!(:P) I hate to admit it, but my dad is one of them. He once texted me – “Your mother, Yamini, has left for Chennai to meet with your aunt, Jyothi. She, your mother, will be back in a week’s time. – Ramana”. What was he thinking? Well, may be he thought I was so used to calling my mom ‘Amma’ and him ‘Nanna’ that I forgot what their real names were. Or perhaps he figured that while filling out forms, I’d write – Mother’s name: Amma, Father’s name: Nanna, so he wanted to remind me of their real names on a periodic basis. May be I should check my passport once! No offence Nanna! I still love you! I really do!
  • And then there’s another breed which does not feature the word ‘formal’ in its vocabulary at all! A new student arrived at the university and was desperately looking for funding opportunities. My friend B suggested he email and set up an appointment with one Dr. S, who had a few openings. He told him Dr. S was a Telugu too and that he was quite helpful to Indian students, esp. students from Andhra. B was blissfully unaware of what the guy wrote to the professor. A couple of days later when B inquired into the progress he made, the new guy informed him that the professor hadn’t replied yet. B was sort of taken aback, knowing Dr. S was the kind of person who immediately replied to the most insignificant of emails from students. He asked the new guy what he had written and B almost fainted when he read the note. This was his request for an appointment, no, an order for a Graduate Assistantship (GA) : “Hello S Anna, B Anna told me you have GAs. Please give one.” I almost died laughing!
  • This happened to my uncle. He once paid a casual visit to a family he knew well. This was the hostess’ offer for refreshments – “I have many samosas inside. Shall I vomit up and give you?” (The poor lady only wanted to warm them up a bit!) My uncle promptly refused the offer. He promised himself he’d never eat anything at their house ever again!
  • I always tuck my wallet in the ‘back packet of my jeans fant’!
  • A Gujarati technician testing a microphone system at a school function – “Hello, hello, Mic tasting. Tasting 1,2,3. Hello, hello. Haan, haan! sab barobar chhe!“(Namak, mirchi, masale, sab barobar chhe!)

This is the story of my ‘English’ life, people! All these incidents and faux pas are real and I did not make anything up, if that’s what you’re waiting for me to admit! Really, all this is true! I hope you’ve had as much fun reading them as I’ve had writing about them! I’d like to end this post with three really funny newspaper headlines and some of my favorite ‘Bushisms’ (Source: www.innocentenglish.com) :

  1. Two convicts evade noose, jury hung.
  2. Milk drinkers are turning to powder.
  3. This was a heading when Obama won Wisconsin: “Obama beats Hillary in Wisconsin. Hillary runs to Texas.”

(The real newspaper sources are unknown.)

And last but not the least, I dedicate these ‘Bushisms’ to the man himself, Dubya!!

“You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.” –George W. Bush, interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006

“After the bombing, most Iraqis saw what the perpetrators of this attack were trying to do.” —George W. Bush, on the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, March 13, 2006, Washington, D.C.

God Save the Queen and Her Tongue!!


  1. Dude, this is the funniest post I’ve read in a long while! BTW, “issikoltu” is a word in every Maths teachers vocabulary in the South – I’ve studied in 12 schools and I can vouch for that! And how embarrassing is to paint “TECHNALAGI” on the side of a college bus! I’ve even seen mistakes in spelling and grammar on billboard ads for English classes in India! I am sorry for the poor painters, who probably couldn’t read their client’s handwriting.

    PS: For similarly themed humor, visit engrish.com

    Thanks! And you bet ‘TECHNALAGI’ was embarassing! When someone asked me which college I went to, I’d always try changing the subject with – “uuh..mmm…eeeh….so? u paint huh? nice! did u go for classes?” or something like that! And yea, the ‘issokoltu’ is endemic to the South I guess! And don’t even get me started on the ‘Russel’s Spoken Englees – Manam Anglamlo maatladudam (Let’s speak in English)’!

  2. BTW, the English love butchering their own language. One month in England and I had forgotten half the grammar I’ve learned.

    I know, I’ve heard. May be it’s time ‘Russel’s Spoken Englees’ opened shop there!

  3. shaun says:

    Ohhh man , the GA one was the best ….. imagine his cover letter for a job interview … rofl …. I think Mr Karthik’s next post will be even more interesting …. I kinda know the title and the incident.

    Shhh!! Don’t break the suspense, I say!! The GA thing was indeed hilarious. When my friend told me that, I laughed so hard, I thought I’d die laughing!

  4. Crakpot says:

    Heeheee. You were right, this is an uproarious post!

    You reminded me of some of my school teachers:
    – My favorite was this teacher who said “yay, yee, yaiy, vo, voo” (A,E,I,O,U).
    – Waat? Why are you loafing (laughing)? Waats that fun ( whats so funny?)
    – One teacher said ooi for why.
    – My biology teacher always said “keep the mouth shut. Whether boy or girl, I dont care! I will slap on the mouth.”

    The subtitles for hindi movies, especially the songs are also hillarious, if you ever care to follow them!

    Anyways, your blog is becoming one of my fav sites, so never stop blogging 🙂

    I will & thanks!! ROFL @ A, E, I, O, U!! Amazing how these teachers manage to teach English, of all things! One professor from Engg. used to shout – “Eeyi! Waat rey? Waat is the discuss?” They never cease to amaze me! And you’re right about the subtitles! They are hilarious! If you’ve watched Hindi, you should watch Telugu movies with subtitles, I guarantee, you’ll run to the bathroom laughing!

  5. maxdavinci says:

    seeriously tellingu maastaaru, dis post yees vary khatarnaaku!

    Eye waant to kaantriiboot and eye will make a post out aaf yeet.

    I’m glad I got you to blog, dekho kya chupa hain tumhare andar! You better keep it up with 4-5 posts a month!

    Tanks! My haanur!

  6. buddy says:

    Karthik gaaru, take a bow.
    You must read “the mother tongue” by Bill Bryson. Hilarious and informative. You will enjoy it.

    I know, I saw it at Borders the other day. I’m thinking of stealing it, coz as a student, you know how light wallets can get!

  7. Priya says:

    Got to your blog from Aditya’s and it was a huge mistake to do it while sitting in a cubicle at the office! The post is hilarious and I had a tough time controlling the loafing 😀
    I had this lecturer who would shout “both you three stop talking!” huh!! and this one has been legendary “how two things at a time simultaneously possible together?”

    Welcome to this blog! & LOL @ “both you three stop talking!”, I’ve heard that too. The second one is also hilarious!

  8. 'B' from this post says:

    YOU REMEMBERED THAT GA INCIDENT… that was most funniest and embarrassing situation in my whole life. i still couldn’t understand if that was innocence or stupidity.
    great post… just added ur blog to my rss reader, so i ll nvr miss any of ur posts… one of the above comment anticipates ur next one is even more interesting, so waiting for it… 😀

    Thanku Thanku!! I’d think the whole incident was a consequence of sheer ignorance! The poor guy just did not know how to write a formal email, period! & this provided for one of the funniest parts of my post! Thanks again!

  9. […] to the sequences. If you are looking for something more witty and funny then head over to ‘sthitapragnya‘, but do read on if you have nothing better to […]

  10. Adithya says:

    Too good man! You write humor amazingly well. ROFL@ GA mail. OMG!!

    I had a Phy prof in college who used to shout,”Staaaaaaaaf”. He meant Stop. And he often said, “What will be haffens?”. Something like, “Now this electron is here. He goes and collides with another and he becomes something else. What will be haffens?”

    And also consider these:

    the money spent on educations is equal to vanishes!

    and this is called metallic glass.. metallic glass.. metallic glass.. metallic glass… aaee metallicc glasss…….

    consider my body as a molecules
    take the conductor and place it in between the metal plates like a two breads between the jams!

    if you are hosteler you eat in canteen, if you are day scholar you are equal to tiffin box

    Thanks. And maaan! Are you trying to steal my thunder? 😛 I made the mishtake of reading your comment while eating and snorted out food! I even had to run to the bathroom twice! The ‘metallic glass’, the ‘tiffin box’, ‘staaaf’, hell! all of them are a riot!

  11. Drenched says:

    Hahahahahahaha, I’m so glad I stumbled upon this blog – from Chutney’s or Adi’s, I guess. What a hilarious post! That GA thing was outrageously funny.
    I also had a teacher like your Physics one in 7th. I have discovered a lifelong disappointment to live with now – she never took a leave to have wisdom tooth removed. Damnit.
    And thanks to our Chemistry teacher in 11th, we studied a lot of “popteez” of the elements in periodic table. My cousin’s History teacher was someobody who was a gold medalist in the art of murdering Eenglees. People would talk “louderly” during her classes, she would always want to bang her head against “waalz” when her students disturbed the classes, she would talk about the Indian peasants’ difficulties in “meeting the both ends meet” during various historical droughts and most importantly, she had “two daughters and both were girls”. Also, she would ask people to lift their “feets” while walking.
    The best of all is my current Business Law prof though – he calls himself a “lecher”.

    Thanks for dropping by. ROFL @ your Chemistry & History teachers’ Englees speaking “popteez”! We had a maths teacher in 6th who used to threaten us – “Tsk,tsk,tsk! Waat is this ma? If you is naat stopping taaking means, I will stand out both aaf u. Undershtand?”. May be all these teachers deserve “lechers” in spoken Englees! Wo Gaad!

  12. Drenched says:

    Oh, sorry, forgot to add one more thing. A Gujju friend once mentioned how he forgot to add “paper” in the daal he cooked for the rest of us. One of my more idiotic friends responded with a straight face – “Dude, agreed we’re vegetarians but we still are a long way to go before put paper in our daals.”

    Hahahhaha! LOL @ your friend’s response!! If ‘paper’ was bad, this is worse! Send him/her to ‘Russel Spoke Englees’, I say!

  13. Rekha says:

    Haaha… Really good one and brought back a ton of memories.

    1. I had a geography teacher who said – “Open the windows and let the weather come in”
    2. I had a mallu history teacher who killed us with – “In das velee civilllizeeation”
    3. I had a physics prof from UP who taught us all about “Vibration of ishtretched ishtring”. We promptly renamed him Ishke(S.K) Pandey.
    4. Also had a maths prof who you used to say ‘ikalt’ where t is neither t nor tu but something in between.
    5. Recently worked with a technical architect whose most common decriptions of s/w architecture would include things such as “this fellow will hit that fellow, and that fellow will call that fellow”. You can imagine how much trouble we must have had understanding his architecture.

    Sorry for taking up so much space, but couldn’t stop myself. 😀

    Bhel-come to my blow-g! Take all the space you need, it’s good to have new visitors. We had a Lady Pandeyji in our “ishkool” for Hindi who used to say – “You cool-ekt the home-barks and calm to Stay-f room.” and responded with a “batter u jaamp down” at the slightest disturbance in the class. Her Hindi was flawless though!

  14. Prashanth says:

    My physics sir used to tell “Those who could not be able to finish the home work, stand up”

    And my class teacher once asked “Who and all are all absent today?”

    And I called it quits to spoken English when girls in my class (in 5th, 6th) used sentences like “Boy, boy, please boy..” “That like not boy. Don’t take it wrong”.

    I guess everyone has had a rendezvous with English faux pas. Nice to see so many kantri-bhushans! LOL @ “Boy, boy, please boy..”. We had guy in class who used say ‘chooch’ for ‘switch’!

  15. Prashanth says:

    @ Drenched – I have heard many people pronounce “Pepper” as “Paper”. Esp. those who do NOT belong to South India.

  16. Here is a kantribushan, actually second-hand from a friend of mine. The principal of his college was addressing them on their first day and said this: “I have two daughters, both are girls!”

    This ‘bhushan’ of a blunder is also available for men – ‘I have two sons, both are boys”.

  17. Nandini says:

    Hilarious 😀 Came here via Max’s! LOL I had Mallu teachers too 😉 My mom’d make me repeat everything taught in school and correct my pronunciation over and over again in kindergarten.

    Welcome to my blog! I read your comment on his. The ‘taali’ thing was outrageously funny!! I can imagine the guy getting beaten up. ROFL!

  18. 'B' from this post says:

    British Man: We killed in your mother land for 200 years!

    Indian: So what? we are killing your mothertongue since then!

    LOL! Looks like our scores will never be settled. The butchery is perpetual. 😀

  19. chutneycase says:

    Chaala manchidi post, stith-gaaru! =D Reminds me of my chem teacher too, she would always be talking about “oww to eat aydrogin”.
    My Commerce teacher, Devakumar gaaru was the best. He was very well versed in “Saers and Debunchuss” (Shares and Debentures) and was very much “aganist” Mugging for “yugzam”. As my 9th std physics sub once said, “You can able to see it, but others cannot yable to ma. Understandings a?”
    You should hear Oriya English. Bajically, eet ees baery debective.

    Dhanyavadamulu! Marinni raabotunnayi. (Thank you! More to come.) And I know what you’re talking about. Our Chemistry ‘lechraar’ enlightened us “Benjin riyaat yith alkyl-aalides in friends aaf jink fodder to giuw aalkyl-benjin” (“Benzene reacts with alkyl-halides in presence of Zinc powder to give alkyl-benzene”). Another mathematics teacher used to say “In that reesun” for “that’s why”! Go figure! Louwelee no? Aaha! Truly – Gururdevo Bhava!

  20. maami says:

    In Bhengaul the land vhere Queen’s tongue is spoken they never sell Wall’s Ice Creams!

    Dhanyosmi Maami! Dhanyosmi! Welcome to my blog! Haanured, I say! But honestly, the ‘Wall’s’ joke went over my head. Sorry Maami, the first time you visit my blog and this is how I respond to your comment. 😦 Kill me! But enlighten me before you do it! Thanks again.

  21. maami says:

    Often Bengalis pronounce the ‘wa’ sound as ‘ba’!
    Mima blog chaala manchiga undhi.
    But what does your name mean? pragnya means sense/awareness-kaada? Kanee, sthita ante emi Babu?

    O Yea! You’re right! How dumb could I be. How could I not see that!*slapping forehead* Cha…You see, my brain’babes’ are not of the same ‘babe’length as yours! 😛 Anyway, ‘Sthitapragnya’ is a human being who transcends the material world, someone with steady wisdom and stable mind. Sthita – stable, unwavering, and you’re right about ‘pragnya’. This is the ideal human being Mr. Parthasarathy describes in His Divine Saang in sapter 2. BTW, you’re Telugu is good.

  22. […] if I remember correctly, my physics teacher from +2 had a ’sweet tooth’ which she could not get rid […]

  23. Laasya says:

    Brilliantly funny! I am one of the those who thinks Wren and Martin are Gods. Actually, I am probably the only one who thinks that.
    Thoroughly enjoyable post!
    And thanks for swinging by our blog.

    Thanks. You are not alone, I think so too. But, you know, that reverence shouldn’t go overboard, like it did here!

  24. Srividya says:

    Kakuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu… awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeee maaaaaaaaaaan! :)Choostu choostu maa karthik gaadu enta pada pragnyaavantudu aipoyado 🙂 ! nice kaku nice! I’m sure you spent a good 2 hours on writing up this post, editing and re-editing and reading it every time so you were sure it really was funny … i mean … not just funny in fits and spurts but funny all along … nice kaku nice :)!

    Thanku, Thanku, Thanku yery much, I say! Editing…yea, I did spend a while on that. But, honestly, most of the faux pas were inherently funny, so no sweat there! I didn’t have to make them sound funny. I’m sure anybody would have laughed their asses off, if they encountered them first hand. Esp. the ‘GA’ thing. It still cracks me up! *laughing as I type*

  25. Sravya says:

    Haha…Laughed so much today 🙂
    Read all your posts…

    Thanks a lot! The pleasure is mine! I’m glad I could entertain. 🙂

  26. shadow says:

    Reeeding….Read……Red ..ur blogs..
    Ur bloccks are wid Greeat Comic Saans..

  27. Bluejay says:

    hilarious!! assalu.. cud relate to it so much!!.. my sister forwarded the blog to me.. we were talking while reading this.. and I kept on saying “oh my god! this is soo true, this happened to me” and my sister would say “kada :)”..

    BTW .. had a prof who used to say.. ” in olden times, kings used to have lots of arses” … (I guess he meant.. horses??.. but i don’t know.. still wondering ;))

    ‘lots of arses’? ROFL!! 😀 😀 O My God! Your professor seriously needs classes in ‘pony-tics’! Send him to my English teacher from 8th std.! 😛

  28. srividya hari says:

    hahahhahahahahaa inka navvalenu.

    asalu oka danni minchinavi inkonni.

    Naa side nunchi:

    Me: Where would we have our Bio-chem class today?

    My Bio-chemistry lechrer in M.Sc Ist yr:
    Why? What happend? All classes full?
    (she wanted to know if we were having any vacant class room!)

    Me: Yes Mam.

    she: You go. I will come. Tell allbody that I will take class from top :O

    (She meant tell everybody (may be in my class! that she would take her class in one of the vacant rooms in the first/top floor)


    LOL!! allbody? From top aa? ROFL!! O My God! There are worse specimen than I had ever imagined! 😀

  29. srividya hari says:

    You bet there are tons of people like these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m sure!!

  30. Srikanth says:

    Speaking of Malayali acquaintances…
    A group of us were talking, and one other person walked in and said “Hi Gays…”
    Poor guy, he meant Hi Guys, but he cant help it !!!

    LOL! Thank god he didn’t show his ‘bust-front’ after that! 😛

  31. Phoenix says:

    😀 hilarious one. you write really well. I’ll keep coming back to your blog. Hey how about blogrolling ya.. sounds good 🙂 cheers.

    Thank you very much! 🙂

  32. […] anything I like. Well, I like all of ‘em!” I said grinning again “This and this would take the cake. My favorites!! The former being thought-provoking and the latter, just […]

  33. Prithvi says:

    Thosew ere so funny! We had a Chem “prof” at MVIT called GMK, who would say -” Take a round-bottomed flask of any shape”, and “All of you stand in a straight semi-circle”.
    In Chicago, I saw one dude going to the career fair with his resume that had a thebiggest “OM” sign with “Shri Rama..”something or the other as the header.

    LOL @ OM & Shri Rama! Such people never cease to amaze me!

  34. Zephyr27 says:

    hahahah!! oh my god! this totally cracked me up! so ur website is like ‘break time’ for me from studying. how the heck d’u manage to write such funny posts?! i’ve pretty much read all ur posts, so now i’m waiting for more! 🙂

    PS: i’m sorta curious to get to know the person behind such humorous writing! mind if i add u on gtalk?

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