Dictionary, Shmictionary

First of all, what about this title ‘Dictionary, Shmictionary’ with its consonance type effect?

I was of the view that such casual repetition of words is a bad habit amongst people living in the sub-continent. “Have you eaten dinner-vinner?  Let’s have chai-shai?

So Word Press wants to know, what’s wrong with our English Vinglish?

This reminds me of ‘English Vinglish’ , a movie from India, in which a simple, bored, middle-aged woman – a neglected wife and a mother of two – decides to learn English so as to feel valued by her family and to assimilate herself within the educated culture that surrounds her. Her own children laugh at the way she speaks English so she takes this stance. She enrolls herself in an accelerated English language class.

See her humorous first day in class…

This movie was a reminder of ‘Mind your Language‘ series I saw somewhere. But the way she, along with other students, learns new words in English at her age, is the way each one of us learnt it at a much earlier age, that is in our school.

Generally we assume that we should learn our basic languages, English or any other, as early as possible. We should also learn them for as many years as possible. That’s because a language can’t be learnt in a few days or months. It needs years to do so. But it need not be so.

Even if the level of expertise that one attains in a quick crash course in any language, is nowhere near that of a veteran linguist or a native speaker, but there’s no harm in learning simple basics at any age. I am familiar with at least a few words of most Indian languages, and would like to learn more of French, in fact as many languages as possible.

So, coming back to ‘Dictionary, Shmictionary’, while I’m sure there are many English language words that I once did not know the meaning of, right now I don’t remember many. There is one word though that had produced somewhat embarrassing situation for me. That word is ‘nostalgia’.

I got mixed up between ‘nostalgia’ and ‘nausea’. When I told my teacher that I am feeling ‘nostalgia’, she could not comprehend me. Actually I was nauseous and unwell. But how was she supposed to understand what I was saying?  This happened long ago when I was just learning some difficult words in late primary school in India.

So, there you go…this English Vinglish is indeed a very tricky language. I still don’t know many new words that keep coming up. You are free to correct me, at least in my written English.


My long winding reply to The Daily Prompt:  Dictionary, Shmictionary

“Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).”



In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ready, Set, Done!.”

I am a relatively new writer on Word Press hence was unaware of this kind of prompt writing exercise that’s called ‘free-write’… set a timer for ten minutes. Write without pause (and no edits!) until you’re out of time. Then, publish what you have (it’s your call whether or not to give the post a once-over).

After reading this daily prompt topic, a word came into my mind – ‘extempore’.

I remember, during my school days (long ago), we used to take part in extempore debate and declamation speech competitions but we were not provided any topic that we could prepare beforehand.  Then a random topic would be given at the final moment with say 2 to 5 minutes to think about it.

In such extempore competitions, where there is nil preparation or forethought, who are the participants who do well in their attempts?

Of course, most contestants are similar in one criteria – their command over the language. Other than that, they are meant to be articulate and should be able to think on the spot.  But is it that simple?  Are people actually not prepared at all?  Whatever comes out of our eloquent mouths, isn’t it all somehow already there at the back of their minds?

Some participants used to prepare for the competition nevertheless, rather they would prepare many general topics and then later string and strew the information within their impromptu speech.  Say, if you had prepared information about your own family (or even families in general), then you can easily speak at length on a topic that requires you to talk about your mother.

If one is standing in front of the audience and just start blabbering out whatever comes in one’s mind, then it is our sub-conscious mind that’s working.  So on the surface it might seem that the speech was unprepared, but if the speaker has somehow been connected to that particular topic in the past, then he or she will perform better than others when extemporising.   If I am from a family of travelers, then a topic related to travelling will come by as an easy game to me but maybe not so to others.

Another factor is, how your mind works at that particular moment.  Your mood on that day, your mood during that hour and that particular moment.  When subconscious becomes conscious, then at that moment, not just the subconscious thoughts matter but the degree of readiness that the conscious mind has when absorbing the subconscious thoughts and knowledge.   There is writer’s block that hinders most writers at some time or the other but is there speaker’s block too that depends on some internal or external criteria?

Like, when writing the above piece of ‘free write’ and when my subconscious thoughts were becoming conscious, were jostling to come out on this word document, I was simultaneously thinking…”Oh what’s the point!!  After all, the pingbacks are not working and it will not be published anyway.  It will become another unnoticed solitary climber on my own little wall.   So better not write”.

But soon I dismissed this vile thought.  Pingbacks or no pingbacks, does not matter.  Writing should be for the sake of writing.


Ready, Set, Done!

pic source: grammer