Sunday, August 8, 2010


If you want to make yourself understood in a new country with a different language, there are a few approaches you can take: charades, broken English, or the local language. When I lived in China, I always used to wonder how people managed to travel there without speaking Chinese. It wasn’t until I moved to Thailand that I appreciated just how far one can go with a little bit of charades and a big smile. However, learning the local language is my preferred approach, so day by day, I worked more and more Thai vocabulary into my exchanges. Depending on the situation, though, I would sometimes find it necessary to call on my housemate Lauranne and her excellent knowledge of broken English.

Believe it or not, broken English is a language unto itself, consisting of a varied pronunciation of English words, a different interpretation of grammar, and literal translations from the local language. Although this type of English varies from country to country, I was recently informed of the rise of “Globish,” which refers to they type of broken English that allows speakers of English as a learned language to understand each other better than they do native speakers. Below are some Telugu/Indian phrases that I have found myself picking up.

Please turn on the light . . . Please on the light.

I’m tired . . . I am getting so much sleepy.

I’m going to go . . . Shall I go?

The power is on . . . Current has come.

It’s going to rain . . . Rain will be coming.

Will you take those papers? . . . Will you catch those papers?

Will you wear bindhi? . . . Will you keep bindhi?

Add “only” for emphasis

- I am one person, only.

- I will go today, only.

Add “yeah?” or “no?” at the end of a question

- I will need to be wearing a sari, yeah?

- There will be many people there, no?

When in doubt, add a ‘u’

- straight . . . straightu

- left . . . leftu

- right . . . rightu

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