Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thames and Zebras

My sis P and I are, as usual, occupied in pulling our little cousin V's leg. V, who has been in the UK for a year or so now, can now speak in a “prop-ah” British accent when he so chooses. He started off correcting our pronunciation for certain English names, but the last straw was when he told us that Zebra is not "Zee-bra", but "Zeh-bra".

So, like all big sisters do, we engaged ourselves in torturing the little fellow.

P - Akka, do you think there are any Zee-bras near the Thay-ms [1] in London?

V - It is not Thay-ms! It is "Tems"! And I already told you that it is Zeh-bra.

S - I don't really know - maybe there are lots of them in Ree-ding [2] and Nor-witch [3].

V - It is Red-ing! And Nor-ich! I already told you!

P - I am sure there are some in Lie-cester [4]. Or in Burk-shire [5].

V - Stop it! Stop it!! It is Lester!! And Bark-shire!

S - Aww, come on, V! If the British could come over and call Srirangapatnam "Seringapatam", and Chitradurga "Chitldrug", then we most definitely have the right to call Edinburgh "Edin-burg". At least we are true to the spelling.

V - *Claps his hands over his ears* It is Edin-bra!! Amma! Amma! Look at these two girls! They don't know anything!

V's mom - Oh, that's ok, V - they are just teasing you. Naughty, aren't they? We'll teach them a lesson. Let's just chuck them into the Thay-ms.

V - Aaaaargghhhhhh!!!!

And it continues ........

[1] Thames
[2] Reading
[3] Norwich
[4] Leicester
[5] Berkshire


Sudhakar said...

I had similar experience with U.S. guys for the city Sanjose (Sanose) and Illinois (Illinoi) state

Viky said...

Paapa, the little guy. Some bully you are, eh?

But then, totally enjoyed the fun. ROFLing at the small kid running to his mom.

Viky said...

Much fun came when we were teasing our friend in SAP. He would always say SAP as Yes-A-Pee, while we would say 'sap'.

Then it became kannadofied as SAPoo, Infosissoo, Satyammu, Microlandoo...;)

anoop said...

hahahaha.... have conditioned my ears to such inane pronounciations. i knew about, edinburgh being pronounced as "edinbrough". it was only after sometime that i came to know of Leicester being called as "Lester". I tried finding a general rule for such inconsistencies in the language, so far i'm unsuccessful.
your logic about us pronouncing the words as we like makes sense. more so, as they changed the pronounciations of certain words which they couldnt pronounce properly when they were in India.

mysorean said...

LOL!! Good one! Poor V I tell you!

ROTFL! Infosisoo was too goooduu!

NaiKutti said...

i didn't get to read this post... was searching some info on plastics in bangalore and came across your post in bangalore metblogs... and was excited to see more people thinking along similar lines... i am a part of this group called clean and green which aims at having a cleaner and greener environment... we are still evolving :-)... if interested in knowing more info., please send me a email...

PS: i haven't commented in blogs for months now!

Maverick said...

here we people in america also try to fake accent while talking to americans, bcos we think they'll understand us this way better (god knows if its true or not), but while talking to our indian junta our accent pops up in all shapes n sizes.

n btw as the topic of zebra(zeh-bra, whatever) came in, wat do u think, zebra's r white animals with black stripes or black animals with white stripes? i knw this has nothing to do with ur post but we just visited a wildlife park near by n our guide cleared this doubt for us, so im going wild asking this to everyone :-)

Just Mohit said...

ROFL...poor guy!
Try telling him you'll take him for a day trip to Ipswich. When he tells you it's Ips-ich, you can tell him that for once you are correct! ;-)
And if they can call me Mo'-hit (are more hits!), we can call their places whatever we choose!

surya said...

hehehe ... funny!!

travel plaza said...

That's so funny. Poor guy!

ಉಉನಾಶೆ said...

These days, our 5 yr old corrects our pronounciations/accent a lot.

May be I should try this trick on her.

Talking about pronounciation, I am always confused about the difference between "vet" and "wet".

I know there is (should be) a difference. Neither I see it nor I hear it.. and of course I dont know whether I do it right.

"v" and "w" difference...can it be explained in plain text by somebody

Shruthi said...

Sudhakar, Ah yes! These things come as a "What??? Seriously??" kind of a revelation :)

Viky, Not a bully - just some loving leg-pulling, that's all :D
Heh heh... I remember one of my cousins asking me what the Kannada word for "Bus" is.. and I had said "Bussu" :D Convenient ;)

Anoop, General rule in English = impossible scenario :(
But yes, it is a source of much fun :)

Adi :D

Naikutti, that is interesting. Will get in touch.

Shruthi said...

Maverick, You can always make out a fake accent right, and it sounds pretty pathetic :D
Zebra question? This, I think has long been a question of debate! I think I remember reading that it is a black animal, with black and white hair? Please do enlighten us! :)

Mo-hit ;),, HEh heh.. I asked him, he said Ip-switch :) Kids are smart!!

Surya, Travel Plaza, :D

Uunaashe, here is a simple way --
V = pronounced while you are biting your lower lip with your upper teeth
W = bring your lips forward, and together, and do not use your teeth.
Hope that explains it?

Velu said...

please desist. :)

I am similarly unfortunate and plead on the childs behalf.

Shastri said...

Ahem, I may annoy the purists out there, but I belive there is no such thing as 'standard' pronounciaton let alone 'accent'. The British always say Americans speak a language that they call English and Americans never miss a chance to redicule the 'stiff upper lip' kind of British English. Australians are another story altogether.
I belive in modifying your accent as much as it needs to help the other person understand what you are saying. When you are talking to an American or an Englishman, may be it makes sense so say 'wheat-flower' or 'zeh-bra' or whatever. But when we talk amonst ourselves, 'wheat-floor' (wheatflour) and zebra would do just fine.

Now, dont get me started with the fake accents of people who have returned from and assignment in US or somewhere. Thats enough material to make one blog post by itself.

Shruthi said...

Velu, I am sure little V will be very thankful, but I can assure you that he enjoys it as much :D
And it is just revenge for all the torture that he inflicts upon us ;)

Shastri, yup, you are right :) The best thing is to speak in the way that you are comfortable with! And of course, the people around you too!
One more thing - I believe that pronunciation should be correct - but accents don't really matter, or rather it can't be helped!
But again, if I go around saying Zeh-bra in India, I will have to do additional explaining too! Hmm....

Maverick said...

ok abt zebras, they r actually black animals with white stripes, with their pure black still apparent at foot, mouth and other parts tht cannot be mentioned (dont accuse me, this's wat our guide said us :D).the stripes start from their feet and develop gradually, these stripes are very unique like the finger print patterns in the humans and are not same for any two zebras. they also use these stripes as a means of identity and are typically used by the mother zebras to spot their child zebras and vice versa (ain't it amazing!). They carry children for 12 months and very often they immediately get pregnant, thus resulting in a very fast and continous breeding cycle.a child zebra can run as fast as 30 mi per hour just on the third day after its born.they have sharp teeth and so do not try to feed them, try these carrots instead with the girrafe's who r safe n very human friendly.--- this is wat our guide said us :-)

endevourme said...

diffucult to understand posts here ....

Shruthi said...

Maverick, Oho! :) Interesting, thanks!! Looks like you are a very good student ;)

Endeavourme, ha ha... that's the funniest thing I have heard in a long time!

Shruthi said...

Endeavourme, I am sorry you couldn't understand anything, and I apologize for finding that funny... but I guess it is just that my style of writing is strange... because I seriously don't think that my posts contain any great ununderstandable matter :D

Bhargav said...

Again, interesting post. The pronunciation key is not that simple with respect to 'V' and 'W'. What you said might be correct with respect to 'Woman' and 'Vendetta'. But it doesn't hold right with 'Wine'.
Coming to accent, I have a real tough time talking to people in my gym. They don't understand what I say, more over, they don't get anything that's not American. For example, table tennis. You need to tell them its ping-pong!!!
I really don't get it when another 'desi' uses an accent upon me. In my case, am not sure. You need to talk to me and find out. Although my girlfriend keeps telling me that I have one. I disagree...

Shruthi said...

Bhargav, is there any definite rule in English? :( That was the closest I could get! :)
Oh do you have an accent? I haven't really heard you speak in English (when I did speak to you, it was only in Kannada, right? )

Abhinav said...

he he funny!! i pity the poor guy and hey its english lang it does not matter how u pronounce it but there are rules for Hindi do not mess with those :P

Anonymous said...



Shruthi said...

Abhinav, I am sure the British will tell you the same thing!

Akshay, so right! He reminds me of Calvin too :) I was showing him your snap as a kid, just yday. He thinks you still look just like that :D

Bhargav said...

Well its been said that English is a funny language. When I think about it, like in the case of using article 'an' before words starting with vowels or that sound like vowels-it just makes it easier. For example, an honest, as compared to, a honest. Simple things like these sedimented over time and transformed into rules. No group of people sat one day and formed the rules. I guess thats why its a funny language.
Yeah...we should converse in english to really find out if I have an accent. But its fun talking in kannada...I like that. Reminds me of good old school days.

dharmu said...

nice post, LOL... poor v,
initially i had a tough time understanding the firangi accent.

Shruthi said...

Bhargav, I remember one of our teachers saying that all the time - proably one of the Sudhas :D "English is a funny language"...

Dharmu, heh heh :D ... Yeah, I picked up American accents from sitcoms, and British accents from.... umm... I don't really remember! But in the beginning, it was totally unitelligible!

Viky said...

Right, now that we are talking of languages, take this -

1. There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
2. Is cheese the plural of choose?
3. If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
4. If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do
5. people recite at a play, and play at a recital?
6. Ship by truck, and send cargo by ship?
7. Have noses that run and feet that smell?
8. Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

And then,
9. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that -
10. quicksand can work slowly, 11. boxing rings are square,
12. guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese?

How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on.

English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France.

How can 'slim chance and a fat chance' be the same, while 'wise man and a wise guy' are opposites?

And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this comment, I end it?

Just Mohit said...

Yes, kids ARE really smart! ;-)
On another topic, I read with interest about accents & pronounciations in the comments section! I remember my first visit to the UK...wasn't sure whether people would understand me at all...so asked my Boss about accent neutralisation! Ehat he said has stayed with me..."Speak as you do in India...just, slow down a bit please!"
But there's nothing wrong with an accent...even a put-on one...as long as it helps you be understood. And over a period of time, this tends to become your real accent!

Shruthi said...

Viky Heh heh... says it all, doesn't it :D

Mohit, yup! That's the basic thing - we speak too fast for them!

ಉಉನಾಶೆ said...

Shruthi & Bhargav:
Thanks for tip on "v" vs. "w"

Shruthi said...

Uunaashe, hope it helps :)

Anonymous said...

thank you everybody who pities me.


Shruthi said...

V, you naughty fellow, how did you get here? :D

angada said...


Shruthi said...

Angada, :))

Mukund said...

S - Aww, come on, V! If the British could come over and call Srirangapatnam "Seringapatam", and Chitradurga "Chitldrug", then we most definitely have the right to call Edinburgh "Edin-burg". At least we are true to the spelling.

Ah. "S" is so right. She/He did really made me look at the truth.

British pronounce my name as Muu - kuu - nd

Wrong wrong.
So i shud also pronounce their names wrong.
Tit- For - Tat


Shruthi said...

Mukund, I am S.

- -