Friday, April 17, 2009

The Vagaries of Language

“Let’s get together. Let us see what we want from each other,” the heavily South-Indian-accented voice says.

She works for a desi-owned dot com and is trying to sell me space on her website and I am in no position to buy, what with recession cutting a swathe through the economies of business. So I stall and make the usual excuses, “no budget,” “no plans,” after all, who has money to advertise in a recession.

But what caught me dead on my tracks on a busy day is the accent. I can hardly understand her, as the South-Indian voice is heavily influenced by an American hangover, maybe picked up from too much watching Hollywood movies. She is deliberately rolling the “aaazzhhs” and affecting what she thinks is an American accent. Poor thing, she hasn’t heard her own voice, so she doesn’t know how laughable she sounds.

“Let’s get our priorities right, y’knowwwww,” again the heavy accent, embellished by artificial overtones, there’s an irritating dragging at the end of each sentence (as if a train is screeching to a halt), and a shortening of vowels (much unlike the South Indian tendency to amplify each vowel like an elastic band). I say “yes, yes, yes” several times but don’t understand anything except a few words here and there:

“Gauge your requirements...”

“Assess functionalities...”

“Make proposal...”

“Execute... deliver....”

All these taken in the light of the opening sentence gives a very skewed and distorted picture to a male mind (no matter, though, that I am beyond my prime.). Next thought: is she some kind of nympho?

If this is what call centres are training their employees for, then god forbid customer support.

En Passant....

Read in tabloid dated April 17, 2009: “Raped American Drink Not Spiked.” What the heck is an American that can be raped? Hmmm... classic case study for Lynn Truss, I guess; she of the “Eats, shoots and Leaves” fame. Ah the vagaries of language.

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