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One Damn Good Article About Indian English

One Damn Good Article About Indian English

October 03, 2011
Barnaby Haszard Morris

You can be damn sure Indian English is best spoken every other day, else one tight slap is in order.

I no longer live in India. All I have for now are memories and Twitter.

Thankfully, these two are more than enough to escape – at any time I choose – into the idiosyncratic delights of Indian English. (See my previous posts on Indian English: 1 and 2.) Most of the folks I follow on Twitter, and an increasingly large number of Facebook friends, are either Indian or non-resident Indians. My timeline is thus a veritable feast of Hinglish, Minglish, Tinglish and even Binglish.

You'd think I'd be even more satisfied after being introduced to the wonders of Samosapedia, 'The definitive guide to South Asian lingo'. I tell you, rarely has a purported online 'guide' been more definitive, and never more entertaining. Finally, as if all this weren't enough, I discovered yet another foreigner's guide to Indian English – hilaryinmumbai's glossary of Indian business terms – which set my heart racing with joy and teary-eyed nostalgia. I have viewed it to the tune of four times.

So why am I here, again, seeking to pour more Indian English into an already-overflowing pool? Well, because I want to share a few of my memories of my days 'in office' with dear friends, who perhaps never understood why I was smiling and stifling a laugh.

*

damn
(adv.)
What's that you say? 'Damn' is more commonly an adjective, a verb or an interjection? As always, Indian English first confounds, then enthrals. This was a favourite of many friends when they wished to convey the same meaning as 'extremely'.

The sambar in this hotel is damn good.

I am aware that people in other countries also say this. The difference is in the manner in which it is said. The 'damn' must take precedence over the adjective it intensifies: draw the 'a' sound out, say it louder and at a slightly higher pitch than the others. The rest of the sentence is just a vehicle for the pleasure of saying 'damn'.

The sambar in this hotel is damn good.

Now, practise with some more examples. Tilt your head back a little as you say it, and give a look that says 'I know what I'm talking about'.

  • You're damn right, Dileep.
  • -Are you sure the boss isn't coming in today? -I'm damn sure.
  • Murder 2 is a damn good fillum.

(Bonus: can you spot the false statement?)

one tight slap
(n.)
One decrees that another must receive 'one tight slap' when that person has behaved in a grossly inappropriate manner. Like the ubiquitous 'do one thing', 'one' is an essential part of this phrase: it is never 'a tight slap', or 'the tight slap', or even 'two tight slaps'. 'One tight slap' signifies that the communication of disapproval will be well and truly complete upon delivery of a single act of violence. Nothing more would need to be said.

-Yaar, I heard Baba Ramdev is planning another fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar. He is demanding that the Lok Sabha be replaced with a group of devotees from his ashram.
-Gosh, that man is seeking publicity only. Someone needs to give him one tight slap and send him back to Haryana.

Be aware, however, that the tight slap in question need not actually be issued to have an effect. The mere discussion thereof could be enough to send a transgressor scurrying out of a conversation with his or her tail between their legs.



A: I saw Murder 2 over the weekend. It was damn good.
B: Do not mention that fillum again, else I will give you one tight slap for sure.
A: [silence, never discusses Murder 2 – or even the concept of murder – again] Another example will no doubt follow when someone decrees that I deserve one tight slap for writing this article. But what I can do? I am like this only.

every other day
(adv.)
Don't always trust appearances. This adverbial phrase might look like it means 'every second day', but on the contrary, the meaning usually even goes beyond 'every day'. Basically, you say this to describe something which happens so often that you are forced to comment upon it. Similar phrases would be 'all the time' or 'day in and day out'.


  • Sha! He is having new girlfriends every other day.
  • Every other day we are going for lunch at same hotel anna, let us go somewhere different for a change, I am fed up...
  • I would rather shoot myself than watch Murder 2 every other day for the rest of my life.

*

Hopefully you're getting the point by now, which is that Murder 2 is a film best avoided. Perhaps by some bizarre twist of fate you have also learnt a little more Indian English, but that would merely be a bonus.

I need to thank all my former workmates – especially Ronnie, Dileep, Shikand and Renjith – for providing me with Indian English inspiration (and thank you in advance, guys, for not giving me one vehemently tight slap when we next meet). Thanks also to Madhuri, Dave, Hilary and all the folks on Twitter for making me want to forget all my knowledge of English English at the earliest.
 

22 Comments

  • Anil kshirsagar
    By
    Anil kshirsagar
    25.01.13 05:17 PM
    One tight slap is all right. As for the usage of the expression Damn!, it is culturally unsuitable. If one would know the meaning of damnation etymologically one may get discouraged to use it.
  • abc
    By
    abc
    17.01.12 02:47 AM
    this might be just for fun ... but as if this guy can speak other languages so fluently. whats the point under estimating someone
  • Rajendra Raikwar
    By
    Rajendra Raikwar
    18.11.11 05:05 PM
    i will surely visit again
  • priyanka
    By
    priyanka
    17.10.11 04:00 PM
    i like this article.keep writing .
    waiting for some more observation on indo -english
  • diamond head
    By
    diamond head
    16.10.11 11:45 PM
    Simplee good yaar
  • Shridhar H
    By
    Shridhar H
    15.10.11 01:00 PM
    I would like to share similar very com molnly used word in Mumbai - Did you 'remove' my tickedt also?
  • Praetorian
    By
    Praetorian
    13.10.11 04:21 PM
    Your observations on Indi-English is damn good only. Now one on the Great Indian Head Bob Technique.
    Oh BTW, the origins of these 3 phrases can be traced to the old 'MAC' communities living in Mumbai/Goa
  • Sudarshan
    By
    Sudarshan
    13.10.11 07:49 AM
    Hey, didn't anyone ever tell you that 'one tight slap' is present in all other Indian languages and it's damn apt phrase. Nice article. Gonna read the other ones now. Cheers.
  • Gazala
    By
    Gazala
    12.10.11 12:29 AM
    Thank you for giving me a laugh! There are soooooo many Hinglish phrases that come to mind, too many to list here I agree. BTW I think "one tight slap" is a direct translation from the Hindi "Ek thappad dungi/dunga" also as "ek laath marunga/marungi" which can be translated as "one kick"
  • suruchi
    By
    suruchi
    09.10.11 07:27 PM
    i loooooooooooooooved the write up and was nodding in agreement to what you mentioned...for i am guilty of using the damn just as you say people do:-)

    sharing it with friends:-)
  • zephyr
    By
    zephyr
    08.10.11 06:13 AM
    One tight slap for any one who says this is not a DAMN good piece of prose. Loved the way you made the whole thing come alive and almost audible :D
  • Indiana Amrita
    By
    Indiana Amrita
    07.10.11 08:19 PM
    This speaks of our mentality too...Nonetheless, I like the way you've narrated it...
    Your observations are hilarious and apt.. I have heard ppl saying "cuuuupy" instead of copy, "piieeen" instead of pen!

    Keep posting more, :)

    Love,
    Indie :)
  • Kaleidoscopicaffair
    By
    Kaleidoscopicaffair
    07.10.11 02:00 AM
    Hahahahahah! This is a DAMN good write up!!!
  • Shrinidhi Hande
    By
    Shrinidhi Hande
    06.10.11 06:58 AM
    damn right! :)
  • Aakash Kokz
    By
    Aakash Kokz
    06.10.11 03:17 AM
    Good post, enjoyed going though it.
  • TineMina
    By
    TineMina
    05.10.11 08:36 AM
    This is a damn good article. I am going to send it to all my fast friends!
  • Logonathan
    By
    Logonathan
    05.10.11 06:02 AM
    THANK you for noticing us, good saar! And hope you keep visiting us rowdies on samosapedia.com
  • Vidhya
    By
    Vidhya
    04.10.11 11:21 AM
    Was this inspired by samosapedia?
  • Giribala
    By
    Giribala
    03.10.11 09:37 PM
    We are like that only :-)
  • Matthea
    By
    Matthea
    03.10.11 07:47 PM
    I love this. Next piece maybe you can write about leaving out 'the' or 'a' ("I went to see doctor" for example) and the usage of 'less' ("Payment is less" with which is meant too little instead of less in the way 'we' know it. The usage of 'have to' I had to get used to. "You have to give me a day off" or "You have to pay me an advance"; in the beginning my reaction was 'Excuse me?" :)
    Missing Mumbai too...
  • gtoosphere
    By
    gtoosphere
    03.10.11 03:17 PM
    A tight slap has some ambiguity. One tight slap on the other hand is a precise instruction. It describes a slap which is so 'tight' that a second one is not necessary.
  • lensman
    By
    lensman
    03.10.11 01:03 PM
    Too funny dude!! :D

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