Monday, February 7, 2011

Everything is tickety-boo tickety-boo tickety-boo


Bhopal , Madhya Pradesh      Feb  5, 2011       Sat  11 : 10 PM
“Everything is tickety-boo, tickety-boo, tickety-boo !
Everything is tickety boo,
On a bright and early morning !! “
Or words to that effect in a song we used to sing in School .. any remembrances or memories of this song .. ?
Probably not. But came across it today in reference to something I finally found some time to read, and discovered that it could have come from an Anglicized version of a Hindi phrase, used by the British Army in India.
‘Tickety - boo’ perhaps was derived from the Hindi ‘theek hai babu’ which means ‘it’s all right sir’ !!
Fascinating how words expressions and talk, finally find their way into our dictionaries, which then remain for eternity, perhaps without challenge or explanation. It has always been of great wonder to me how languages first formed a means of communication, of expression between two individuals, communities, countries. How did they develop, how their importance in law, parliament, contract, society were found and stamped for life. And how beautifully we have discovered words and expressions to excite, explain, confound, accuse, praise, situations that have become everyday occurrences of our lives. The readiness with which we have succumbed to these peculiar formulations through mediums of technology, through the spoken word. How their representation in writing or in speech has created so many other mediums. How they have become mediums of expressing togetherness and love in one breath, and quite the opposite in another, purely because they have been given different expression and tonal quality. No where do I find this more appropriate than in the world of creativity. Poets, authors, actors, interpreters of speech have all made such valuable contributions to language. Its importance in everyday life and in the way situations are presented. Most of us are taught through a process of education, from our teachers and as obedient pupils, how words and a language needs to be spoken ; how words need to be interpreted and understood. But where did the teachers learn theirs from ? I say this with some amount of query. I hear an important personality and believe that since he or she is in celebrated form, what they do say and how they say, would and should be the finest and ultimate in its correctness. I read the news paper to find words and expressions used which to me indicate that they are the finest form of expression, because they come from the ‘newspaper’, an entity that we have accepted to be of adequate perfect caliber. I listen to the news reader on radio frequencies and on its further invention, the television, and want to emulate the pronunciation of the anchor because they are the correct and ultimate source. What they say and how they say it becomes a norm, becomes the Bible.
What does one do when they the purveyors of the dispersion of the spoken word, in their exalted positions, falter and envelop themselves in error. What does one do when the anchor at the set of the idiot box, is not pronouncing the word correctly. Or the printer misspelling a word. For one that is not literate enough to gather the meaning despite the faults, shall go on to believe that what he heard or read was indeed correct. The fear among the purists of language, the keepers of the faith so to say, is that soon what is being spoken or expressed on or from public platforms is indeed the right way. When in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
English, they say is the most common and the largest spoken language of the universe, followed by Spanish. English they say, is the language that, due to historical reasons, is the language most understood in a country like India. India, with its rapid economic development and more, by its second largest populace in the world, shall soon in the years to come, represent a state where the maximum number of people shall be aware of the language that you read right now in front of you, and because they will, because of sheer demographics be the largest singular community that shall be conversing in English, the fear is that what and how the majority does, becomes the final word. In short, English shall be known for the way it is spoken, not from its origin in England, but by the way it is spoken and expressed in India. And now realizing the importance of economical growth through the factor of knowing English, the Chinese, who are very ambitious to become world leaders, find that they shall have to make radical changes in their political thinking and develop their next generation in learning ‘the language of the world’.
It would be of immense interest then to me, what consequences that would bring to our world. Would then the true color of English be recognized by an Indo-Chin majority and their interpretation of it or what ??
There is another fear that concerns me. I have believed strongly that the Indian is a most adaptable community. Perhaps its historical subjugated past, compels it to be so. Wherever and when ever the Indian has travelled to shores outside India, or has come in contact with the national from an outside world, he has adapted to them, in his speech admirably. The perfectly normal North Indian or one from Andhra or Tamilnadu, shall with great dexterity develop an American twang when he or she meets one. Their expressions and body language shall impressionably change when they confront an Italian say, on the pavement at Marine Drive, or Janpath in Delhi. And we are damn good at it ! Had it not been for our natural dispositions of birth and origin, no one would have made the difference. The Westerner has never been able to do that. Or perhaps his pride for his own, has deterred him. This by no means derides that fact of our own pride in our natural and national assets, it is but a somewhat lame observation, an observation all the same though.
With such a huge amount of linguistic talent at our doorstep, how would the world view us in the years to come.
I find some portents worthy of mention. Because of everything that India is doing these days in the field of economics and the interest that the rest of the world is taking in it because of that, would the outsider then, also begin to respect how they conduct their speech !! And then would this not encourage those that are in error or need correction, to continue what they are doing, faults and all, or not.
I find many that come to this blog express great appreciation on my style of writing. I find that embarrassing, because I find my written word pretty sub standard. Do I stop to worry about any improvement in my craft because a majority approves it. Or do I still endeavor to better it, because it fails according to my standards, a standard I do believe to be the standard lesser than that of the purists. In a world that decides and dictates opinion, on the yard stick of the majority, then ignore, the minority of the purists. But the purists are the elite. If they are minority, a word often used politically and socially for the less privileged, are we not harboring a serious dichotomy within us ??
From a somewhat confused and anxious ….
abhindi
Amitabh Bachchan

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