Monday, April 26, 2010


( Continued from the previous post Phonetic Fanatic.)

While the success of my crash course in phonetics was a stupendous success, its social fallout was nothing short of a catastrophe. For, whenever I spoke to my friends with my new-found diction, my words met with blank incomprehension. There were sniggers and giggles galore within my social circle at my chaste English. To borrow a Wodehousean expression, ' the cry went around the town that I had turned an "English Sahib'. At least a few sympathised with me suspecting that I had suffered a stroke that might have involved the speech centre of my brain( or was it my imagination?). I felt that I was on the verge of being ostracised!

The Fallout

The last straw fell on the camel's back when my friend Sunny turned his back on me soon after a dinner party which he hosted. He went on cold-shouldering me for reasons I could not fathom. Finally, I decided to end the impasse and confronted him man-to-man. "you complained the other day at my party that the meat was stale," he alleged. " It was quite an injustice."

I was flabbergasted. But recovering from the shock, I coolly reflected upon the events at the party. Yes, there was some reference to the word 'stale'. Then like a deluge, the details came home to me. On that day, some of us at the buffet table were hotly debating the constitutional crisis in some state at which I did exclaim, rather loudly and vehemently, that it was an absolute stalemate. But my newly-acquired diction might have made it sound like 'stale meat'. And in hindsight, I could then see why my comment had met with a stunned silence form the diners. It was only after I explained the true facts to Sunny that our relationship began to thaw.

But one offshoot of this faux pas was that I vowed to revert to good old 'country English' phonetics in order to regain my social acceptance. But I made sure that when Dr Situ was around, I would consciously mind my p's and q's.

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