Saturday, 9 April 2011

... make more noise

I remember the day that a friend of mine got a copy of the BITS newsletter to school. He was all praise for a story in that newsletter. One sequence stands out in my mind, where a student mocks her teacher by saying

“Lucubration of sesquipedalian verbosity is a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Endeavour”

It took me until lunch time to memorize that sentence and to this day I have not been able to use that sentence in all its entirety aptly. Makes me wonder why people use big words.

English is a language that can so beautifully be expressed in small words as well as it can be with those long, confusing multi syllables. In fact, come to think of it the most touching literary contributions use simple language and go into the big words to make a point. To show people that there is no substitute for what is thought or felt or said except with those big fancy words.

Then why do so many of my people from the subcontinent find it exciting to use these big words for everything. Are they trying to prove to themselves that they know the language?

It took me until my first onsite presentation in my IT job to realize that language is a tool people use to show others around that they know when they really don’t. We as a team successfully convinced the clients that we had in fact bettered our previous performance when all the statistics pointed otherwise with nothing more than an intelligently thesaurused report, and the clients who bought these big words were English by first language.

People use the big words to make others stand back in awe and gasp at how much they know. It is quiet intoxicating, but there is a point when people realize that it is just a sham orchestrated to fool ourselves into a cloak of confidence. It works, it most definitely does, but when you start realizing that you are filling all these sounds to muffle your inability to say anything that was thus far unsaid it becomes a sad sight.

I often get reminded of Joey signing the adoption referral with baby kangaroo, and it just makes me smile at all those fooled into thinking they are impressing.