Friday, October 07, 2005

Good English Anyone?

Good English Anyone?

Yesterday’s TOI carried this report:

“So, while an examinee will be penalized for spelling errors in essays, letters or specific English language tests, if he writes horror as “horor” (note: even my word processor rejected this and corrected this word automatically without my knowing) in a literature exam (hear, hear!) or his comprehension passage has a couple of crooked spelling, marks will not be slashed. The same applies to science subjects and other social sciences.”

“Pavnesh Kumar, CBSE’s controller of examinations, told TOI, “This year, we’ve devised a scientific marking pattern. A history exam shouldn’t be treated on par with a spelling test.” Kumar says today’s children are “extremely weak” in spelling and blames the “change in the mode of teaching at schools” for this. Spelling and dictation classes are passé, and the focus is on developing communication skills. “It is therefore wrong to penalize kids for spelling goof-ups if they have the right answers,” he says. “Too much usage of computers is also causing this.””

Joking right? This in the land in which Gandhiji said good spelling and good writing was to be inculcated from childhood, a land where Nehru’s letters to his daughter are cherished as literary works.

I was told to recruit some writers for a writing project that I was working on. I tried and tried and tried, without success. Can you believe it? There aren’t many writers who can write Basic English left in this wide country. None. Reports like the above confirm it. Technology companies are searching desperately and compromising with writers who can at best write, “Me good, you bad,” kind of writing.

Oh, Mr. Pavnesh Kumar, do you realize what you have gone and done? You have pushed us brave writers sermonizing about good English, grammar, and punctuation in literary forums into the very nadir of despondency. Oh, why have I lived to see this day?

On the writers’ network that I am part of there was (there still is) a big debate about this and the English purists say English has to be written the way the Englishmen write it. I – being a moderate, and a fence sitter – said we should evolve an English of our own with our colloquialisms and our own sense of humor rather than imitate Englishmen. But, honestly, I absolutely didn’t support Internet Chat lingo and SMSese. I would rather imitate Englishmen than the herewith mentioned.

Now Pavnesh Kumar makes me assume that the Internet chat and SMSese genres are okay. Then we can go ahead and have our place in history as the country that voted – knowingly – for bad language.

But to give up all pretensions of writing good English and to admit openly that, “No, you need not write good English, spell correctly, punctuate,” is like giving the house keys for safekeeping to the robber before going on a holiday.

Is that right Mr. Pavenesh Kumar-ji?”

1 comment:

Sameera said...

john,
really nice stuff here..
and i totally agree about this post..im too overwhelmed with all ur writings in caferati and other places to say much..

well,good luck and yeah hopefully one day,i can grab ur book at a store.