Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 28, 2011

Better to be a butterfly than learn English .

You know when was the best time to write in English?

Answer is astonishing. 

It was in Shakespeare's time. There were hardly coorect and incorrect spellings.
His own name had  41 spellings and he himself used 5 of them.

God forbid, we are told that root of the problem is the first bible in English language.  About 500 years ago, one was to read it only in Latin and  one can be punished for printing or keeping English version.

So the first bold step was to print it in Germany where people knew very little English.

It was a first ever book for most of the people and it became the sole primer for their reading, writing, and we are bearing the brunt today of those uncorrected prints.

In spoken English today , 

  • there are some 43 sounds as against around 50 in European languages . 
  • But funnily enough , there about  185 spellings for 43 sounds and children have to learn this. 
  • More than 100 words have same spellings 
  • About 70 English spellings have more than one pronunciation and as a result about 2,000 words become totally un-decodable! 
  • There are about 100 words where pronunciation changes with their context and again , 
  • about 370 words  obey the doubling rule and 
  • some 380 words  disobey it and finally, 
  • the silent letters are just the last straw on the camel’s back.
Generally, it takes about ten years of practice to be a good English speller or speaker. 

Now we know it and must pity them if they are still learning – or admire them if they have learnt it.   

Imagine the plight of about 250 million  users of  Facebook, MSN Messenger and Twitter and add further a few hundred  millions who use SMS or text messages on their cell phones ! No wonder the following parallel NETLINGO spellings are going around in great volume :

  • CUZ-Because  /  CWOT-Complete Waste Of Time /   CWYL-Chat With You Later /  CX-Cancelled / 

  • CY-Calm Yourself / 

  • CYA-See Ya / C

  • YE-Check your Email / 

  • CYL-See You Later / 

  • CYM-Check Your Mail / 

  • CYO-See You Online / 

  • CYT-See You Tomorrow / 

  • D&M-Deep & Meaningful / 

  • d/c-disconnected / 

  • DLTM-Don't Lie To Me / 

  • DMI-Don't Mention It / 

  • DNBL8-Do Not Be Late / 

  • DNC-Does Not Compute / 

  • DND-Do Not Disturb / 

  • ...etc 


    luv U, cant w8t 2C U l8r - love you, can not wait to see you later / 
  • which 1 of my kdz do U wnt? - which one of my kids do you want?/ 

  •  IM@wrk - I am at work / 

  •  ayt – are you there? / 

  • aisi – as I see it / 

  •  btw – by the way / 

  •  ILU – I love you / 

  •  ruf2t – are you free to talk? / 

  •  rntuaqt – aren’t you a cutie / 

  • etc, etc

  • With thousands of radio messages broadcast every second by aviation and military personnel round the world, with many accents too difficult for the non-natives, we have ended up with PHONETIC / SPELLING ALPHABET 


    LetterCode wordPronunciation
    AAlfaAL FAH
    BBravoBRAH VOH
    CCharlieCHAR LEE
    DDeltaDELL TAH
    EEchoECK OH
    FFoxtrotFOKS TROT
    HHotelHOH TELL
    IIndiaIN DEE AH
    JJuliettJEW LEE ETT
    KKiloKEY LOH
    LLimaLEE MAH
    NNovemberNO VEM BER
    OOscarOSS CAH
    PPapaPAH PAH
    QQuebecKEH BECK
    RRomeoROW ME OH
    SSierraSEE AIR AH
    TTangoTANG GO
    UUniformYOU NEE FORM
    VVictorVIK TAH
    WWhiskeyWISS KEY
    XX-rayECKS RAY
    YYankeeYANG KEY
    ZZuluZOO LOO

    With all these headaches in spoken and written communication, one day we should not be surprised that more people will turn towards the SIGN LNGAUGE used by the hearing-impaired people. But here also there will be spelling problems. So, perhaps the best option could be "Hieroglyphs" or logograms representing words using graphical figures such as animals, objects or people, used by Egyptians some 5,000 years ago.

    Or better still, would be to observe total silence as Hinduism, Buddhism and other eastern religions preach.

    Or best of all would be to be born as a star or a butterfly or a flower – I suppose.



    1. Reading the last line suddenly reminded me of a poem by pessoa which I had read in the journal of Nirmal Verma, Dhundh se Uthti Dhun. The poem was translated by him in Hindi. Thanks to the internet, I was able to locate it and am posting it below.

      But if God is the flowers and the trees
      And the hills and the sun and the moonlight,
      Then I believe in him,
      Then I believe in him all the time,
      And my whole life is an oration and a mass,
      And a communion with my eyes and through my ears.

      But if God is the trees and the flowers
      And the hills and the moonlight and the sun,
      Why should I call him God?
      I call him flowers and trees and hills and sun and moonlight;
      Because if he made himself for me to see
      As the sun and moonlight and flowers and trees and hills,
      If he appears to me as trees and hills
      And moonlight and sun and flowers,
      It’s because he wants me to know him
      As trees and hills and flowers and moonlight and sun.

    2. Thanks a lot for enrichment through for this lovely poem and remembering two great translators. FP and NV.

      These additional lines of the same poem are equally beautiful:

      "And that’s why I obey Him,
      (What more do I know about God than God knows about himself?),
      I obey Him by living, spontaneously,
      Like someone opening his eyes and seeing,
      And I call Him moonlight and sun and flowers and trees and hills,
      And I love Him without thinking about Him,
      And I think Him by seeing and hearing,
      And I walk with Him all the time."

      Fernando Pessoa,(1888-1935), was a Portuguese poet, writer and translator described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.

      Nirmal Verma had lived in Prague for 10 years; he also learnt the Czech language, and translated nine world classics to Hindi. He travelled widely across Europe, and the result was seven travelogues, including " Dhund Se Uthti Dhun"


    Please leave your impression here by way of a comment. Thanks. deepak