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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indian English? 075

I don't intend for this to be an ad for "Ranjan Driving School" in Mahe, though that may inadvertently be the case. What I did wish to do with this exhibit was to show the curious case of re-translation, if I may call it that.

I would like to draw your attention to the word "Cemithery" on this sign board, and tell you that in reality, the word in English should be "cemetery." Yet, the Malayalam pronunciation of the word "cemetery" is best indicated by the spelling that you find on the board (seh-mi-THTHAY-ree). So, a word that was originally taken from English, made it's way into the Malayalam language -- which already has the word shavva parambu (where "shavva" means corpse and "parambu" means piece of land or field) to denote a concept of "cemetery," mind you -- and back again by way of the anglicized orthography that you see here. The funny thing is, they didn't even need to borrow it in the first place. How strange we human beings are...

I have to say, however, that this is by far the truest example of Indian English, in some sense of that concept.

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