Friday, 27 July 2012

Drunken Hic-lish, sorry, English, society's leaders utter

A look at the abnormal, strange, ridiculous, non-existent English gibberish society's leaders utter to the Media - newspapers, to be specific. 

With due apology to all "Naga identity" purists out there, here’s the truth: you cannot make do without English. You can pompously declare to high heavens the singularity and uniqueness of your culture, but the world still won't give you a flying sheet.

I recall a family friend offering me this precious advice: ‘Your Mother Tongue is most important–only within your bamboo kitchen. Once outside, they don’t care which tribe you belong to. Better get your British right.’

Then there is the pressure of  pursuing independent, unbiased news. It is where the writing  style of the individual reporter comes into play. A small instance: In a tremendously Media-sensitive country like India, a typo or an innocuous "synonymic" oversight in a newspaper item can trigger political controversies with parties and their goons rampaging through streets toppling every innocent auto-rickshaw in their path.

Did I just write "innocent auto-rickshaw"?

No wonder that the Media in Nagaland has yet to not feel a pang of guilt every time it declares "Our Nagaland's Press fraternity is second to none!"   
Nagaland's government leaders lead the quirky English pack
(Note for the more academic-inclined visitors reading this article: The terminologies, in asterisks, are entirely self-styled / do not exist in established English dictionaries)Don't ask me, I have no idea at all why they condemn the Media / Press people all the time in the 'subject' section when it could have named the nature of the statement, though)

 itself means ‘false.’ In other words both the terms 'False' and 'Propaganda' denote one and the same meaning. It’s like saying ‘Bread Loaf’. ‘Propaganda’ itself means 'false', 'lie' or 'untruth.'

'We are also upbringing in English school, English college and English Nagaland University from very young children time but due to our Naganess, poorness in English mother tongue is very ok. Na?'


'Naga tribal organizations students and government is very, very poorness of language of English. It is very shameful issue which Nagas must think clearly to wash away our language backwardness.'
Such types of writing. I call it the Naga syntax—noticeably rural, unschooled, yet self-consciously pompous to parade itself in a shower of presumptuousness.   

Being a professional in a third-world Media institution means you have a career that has everything to do with the big bad world of audio, aural and visual pitfalls. They are only a small part of the harder pressures: you are constantly exposed to the problem of reconciling clear information pitted against how to not muddle what you wish to communicate.

Another: Very few leaders in Nagaland have actually dispatched us clear statements, you see. Thankfully, the Naga are equals when it comes to stupidity (sheer apathy if you will). You wouldn't raise a finger even if your politician had been stealing your salary right under your apathetic nose. Therefore, how much more would you tolerate poorly written news reports? The state of the Media in Nagaland is one that of a sad puddle of mud. 

So, logically, with the Media's state-of-affairs in the muck, won't we honestly think we would give a flying ink about quality journalistic writing, style sheets, and news room Best practices?

Some of the better "Journalistic writers"

To name a few, (former) Governor of Goa SC Jamir, (former) Chief Secretary of Nagaland Lalhuma, (former) Tourism Commissioner & Secretary KK Sema, (former) Deputy Commissioner of Mokokchung Abhishek Singh and bare few leaders of Naga students’ groups are some of the better ones, if not the best, when it comes to clear - almost studied - written English. 

The rest – decidedly inclusive of even major tribal organizations, students’ organizations and yes, Naga ministers / MLAs, not forgetting the Naga underground groups – are all nothing short of gibber authors at their British. And I shan't dare name a respected Editor here too, though!

Face it: Naga society leaders' English should definitely embarass their children (native dialect is king of bamboo kitchens only). If we don’t get it right, we’d better invent an alternative with which global village can communicate with us, in lieu of English, French, German and Latino, of course. 

In the following are some classic examples of how many people more-than-often twist English phrases to fill their English potholes. The instances were collected over time from an array of press releases / statements we received in The Morung Express.
Some are from other newspapers that caught my eye. Even more shocking: They actually went to print (newspaper Editors in Nagaland are, well, judge them yourself!).  The points are also from what I like to call "Private Naga newspaper funny collection." 

Please note that the crazily ticklish phrases listed in the following are normal, everyday English misadventures Naga leaders happily utter every day to / for the Media.

1.   I, on my own behalf…” 

      The most (in)famous of them all. Nagaland's ministers, society leaders, politicians, student-speakers etc., use that line when starting a speech. No, they don't suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder - but then, aren't politicians supposed to have two faces and two tongues anyway? 

2.  "Peace and tranquility is the need of the hour..."

      The commonest declarative you'll hear from, say, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Cabinet colleagues. They'll be seeking water for rain, very soon.        

3.  "Failure to do so we will take our own course of action...” 

      Led by presumably "more educated" students' organizations such as the Naga Students' Federation, that phrase-of-threat is probably the most overused, redundant and completely incoherent declarative organizations in Nagaland utter. It means, "we will react (if our demands are not met)." Maybe they should try someone else's own course of action for more effective results. 

4.  "Work for the *Upliftment of the people"

      Nagaland's history is honored by British and American education since the 1880s - even the dingiest of a 3-room cowshed village in the State has a government English primary school. Sadly nobody - including most of the Journalists in Nagaland - has yet to realize that there is no word called 'Upliftment.' The exact word is 'Uplift.'
5.  *Insultation” 

      The one word worthy of a 5-star salute. The Naga person who created the unique word only meant to say ‘Insult’ or 'insulted')

6.  Request for Press Release” 

      Press Releases that are submitted to newspapers here, are always potent stress-busters. When you could have simply said "Press Release", you went ahead and made sure to add something suggestive of an appeal to the editor to publish it too.

7.  Press condemnation” 
    (Another. Press releases that contain statements denouncing, say, a law and order issue, come titled 'Press Condemnation'.
8.  Press condolence” Press releases that express condolences for demised persons.
9.  We condemn the barbaric murder” 
    Only in Nagaland do we have civilized murder or decent rape and such, you see.
10. Inhuman killing
11. Uncivilized rape” (again)

12. Unitedly” (to mean ‘in unity’ or ‘united’)

13. Repeat again” 

      We love to make sure that our argument has been put across satisfactorily. Therefore, to ensure the next guy got it right, our dear NGOs use multiple expressions that have the same meaning. Twice.

14. Civil Societies” 

      There are no civil societies. Civil society is used only in the context of a cohesive platform, say for example, organizations,  not collective communities. Somebody please inform the government, NGOs, students and the underground groups in Nagaland.  

15.  Medical nurse” 

       Nagaland is still waiting for its Mechanical Robot

16.  General public” (Oh well, what do I say. Read more about that nonsense here) 

17.  Bandh and general blockade

18.  One single cadre

19.  Peaceful atmosphere,“tranquility”, “peaceful serenity” 

      ‘Atmosphere’ in the context of polity Nagas use in the recent times is, well, totally ridiculous. 'Apple orchards carry a peaceful atmosphere but definitely not politics, war or well, even the accentuation of peaceful times. 

20.  Great historical past” 

       Yes, another of the great multiple-words-one-meaning excesses
21.  HIV Virus” I thought HIV was the virus. It's like saying 'Vehicle car'.
22.  *“Secterianistic” (to mean ‘sectarian’)
23.  Government should implement the delimitation issue” 

      Projects, work or programs are implemented but not issues. Issues are addressed, or broached, or discussed, and not implemented)  

24.  *“Upgradation

        Another unique Naga brand that apparently means 'upgrade'

25.  "After the apprehension of the culprits...” 

      (In Nagaland, newspaper use the word 'apprehension' (Which actually means 'fear,  worry or 'anxiety') to mean ‘arrest’ or ‘capture.’

26.  *"Resignment” 

      To mean ‘resignation.’ Another strange Naga invention.

27.  “False propaganda” 

    The commonest and most awkward rebuttals the Indian military and Naga underground factions throw at each other.

28.  Non-availability” 

       The correct word is ‘unavailability’. Another Naga brand

29.  Un-satisfaction 
    (The correct word is ‘dissatisfaction.’ This one was from a group of NPSC candidates - with English in that nature, they definitely have every right to be dissatisfied with their education!)

Concluding remarks 

But it is very ok if our English of Nagas is very bad and broken because we are original native Naga citizens and are dis-citizens of England country. 

Another reason is because we read decreased books, we unread newspaper, never reading national newspaper and hardly imagine beyond our egoistic, self-serving, tribal, factional, forever-Naga issue minds. Due to because we are also the very backward in intellectual sides but highly forward in college degree.

Even almost a scary amount of students’ organization is writing very bad English. The reason is unknown due to dissatisfaction from poor upliftment of our brains. 

And oh, readers, me will very cheerfully make you update when any new Naga-English invention is coming up OK? Please looking at this column for many new Naga English again!     

(Originally published, including the satirized "Concluding Remarks" section, in the author's column United Colors of Nagaland', in June, 2007, The Morung Express)

©2012 Al Ngullie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This article contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

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