Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, Gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get different flavours of the same topic.
You don’t have to get things wrong in a foreign language which was the topic chosen by Paul. In India we have so many languages and so many dialects that communication can be a riot within the same language syntax and vocabulary.
My mother would never call my third brother Barath without adding the prefix-Ara. She would start of calling for Arvind first, stop it midway and then say Barath—it would sound like Arabarath. Now this ‘Ara’ in Tamil means half. So Barath’s grief was that he was never a full Barath but always ended as Ara (half) Barath.
We had a house help when we were children. She spoke Tamil that was equivalent to Cockney while we spoke the Brahmin Tamil with the Sanskritised vocabulary and pronunciation. My second brother’s name is Arvind. She could never get to say his name and would inevitably call him Ara-mandu (as she heard the latter part of the name ‘vindu’ as ‘mandu’. Arvind would patiently sit with her and take her through the syllables and she would very convincingly say Ara-v-in-du. The minute she would have to say the word in entirety—it would end up as Ara-mandu.
You may ask so what if she changed the letters slightly. The truth is that the word ‘mandu’ in Tamil has its own meaning–unintelligent or stupid! So Arvind would always get worked up. The consolation was that he was only ‘Ara’ (half) mandu!