Friday, December 21, 2012

English Is a 'Blunder'ful Language

Fluency defined
Fluency defined (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)
by Padmaja S Singh

English, for us Indians, is still a foreign language. We do have our fair share of language experts, but a large portion of our population still struggles with vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency.

Confusing commas with semicolons, which with that, then with than are commonplace. However, there are blunders of a more serious nature that will make you cringe. Here are a few proofs:

Hello, you are sleeping?

When you get such a question in the middle of the night, it is more irritating than anything else. First of all, your precious sleep has been disturbed, only to be told that you are sleeping! Hello! I already knew that I was sleeping!

However, it is actually a question, generally followed by apologies for disturbing so late at night and all that. Anyway, the point here is "you are sleeping" is an affirmative sentence, not a question. "Are you sleeping?" is the question you want to ask.

Hairs, childrens, feets

Plurals are confusing. As a habit, we find it simple to add 's' to make the plural form of words. However, there are words whose plurals are other words! Now, don't shake your head in disbelief.
The most common blooper is saying 'hairs'. A single hair is hair. More than one hair? Still, hair. This may sound wrong to our 's-makes-it-plural' trained brains, but that's how it is.

Children is plural for child, feet means more than one foot. Now, do not wonder about the confused stares you get the next time you say 'Childrens'! Teeth is a plural too, by the way.

Loose vs. lose

Just because the words are pronounced in the same way does not imply that the words mean the same too. Lose means a loss or defeat. Like when you are watching cricket, and rooting for India, you say, "I don't want India to lose."

Loose on the other hand is being uncontrolled or not being firm. When you are out shopping, trying out a dress, you would say, "This dress is too loose." 'Loose laces lose races', this tongue twister explains the usage of these two words perfectly.

I could care less

Well, if only you had cared a bit to pay more attention to your English, you would not be saying such a wrong sentence! When someone says, "I could care less", the immediate question that comes to mind is, less than what? Since, the sentence is of comparative nature, the sentence is incomplete. The correct way of framing this sentence is, "I couldn't care less", which implies that you are unaffected or cannot be bothered.

English is an impressive language. Devote some time and efforts to learn it the right way. There are several Online English Speaking courses that help you learn the language in a fun and interactive manner. You can enroll in one such spoken English classes and brush up your knowledge and learn to speak fluent English.

Padmaja Singh is a prolific Mumbai-based freelance writer who writes on numerous topics including Online Spoken English, How to Improve Spoken English, Learn English Online, Learn Fluent English, to name a few.

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