Letters from Readers
Learning English the American way
I have read an excellent article in Khabar on American vs. British English language usage [“My Word: Cookies over Biscuits,” by Shashi Tharoor, January 2018].
Unlike Tharoor (left) [who came to the USA in 1975 to study for his Master’s and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University, and is now in India], I graduated in science from Gujarat University in 1979 and immigrated to the USA in 2006. From day one in the USA, I saw plenty of queer usages of English words on highway signs and in conversation.
For example, we see road signs on bridges saying “Do Not Pass.” As an Indian, our mind thinks “Stop Over There and Do Not Enter” until we learn that American “pass” is used to mean the British “overtake.”
When someone goes to the post office here to buy a “ticket” or “postal ticket,” the post office clerk will look them up and down because “ticket” here is the note given by a police officer for a driving violation. One should use the word “stamp” instead.
A funny thing in America is the usage of the words “lake” and “hill.” In our understanding, a lake is substantially large, and a hill is more than 100 to 200 feet high. Here, in my short 7-mile daily commute, there are fourteen signs for hills—which are less than 10 feet high—and there are three lakes— which are less than a quarter square mile in area! You can also be surprised to see that the word “lake” is used for Lake Michigan—which is as big as a sea!
Other words which one cannot guess are “gas” for “petrol,” car “trunk” for car “dicky,” and “glasses” for “spectacles.” A “correctional center” or “prison” is a “jail.”
One more funny thing we can experience in America is the good-natured use of the words “girlfriend” or “honey,” which can sometimes be used in a friendly or kind way, even to address a 95-year-old lady!
Khabar: A magazine for anyone, and everyone
I started reading Khabar magazine several years ago. Although the targeted audiences are South Asians living in the greater Atlanta area, I recommend that people of all cultures, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, races, etc. read this magazine. It is a terrific magazine.
Khabar provides news and information that reaches out to more than just Hindus, but also Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and many others. The monthly calendar is loaded with upcoming events, workshops, publications, and religious gatherings.
I think there is a general theme to Khabar, and that theme is the importance of being unbiased and nonjudgmental. Readers are encouraged to read the articles and draw their own conclusions. Of one thing I am sure—you will become better educated and possess more information than you might think possible.
A fine tribute
Thank you for such a wonderfully written article on Shashi Kapoor [“Tribute: SHASHI KAPOOR: Underrated,Underchallenged, but Deeply Loved,” by AjayVishwanathan, January 2018]. I had always admired his subdued style of portrayal but had no idea of his multifaceted personality. They don’t make stars like Shashi anymore.
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