Friday, March 18, 2011

The language that used to be called English

Last night, I received a ‘text’ from friend which read: i m gd. hw hv u bn? lng tm! wna cth p smtm? trng 2 gt in tch fr a whl nw. gv m a bz n lts tk. wt sy n hwr thngs newyz?
It took me almost 15 minutes to figure the damned thing out. What it turned out to be was: I am good. How have you been? Long time! Want to catch up sometime? Trying to get in touch for a while now. Give me a buzz and let’s talk. What say, and how are things anyway?

Clearly, with such a complicated dialect of English that has emerged over the past few years, the need for cryptic codes has diminished rapidly. Funnily enough, this dialect is neither recognized officially nor taught in school. So how does it still manage to be propagated so widely? Here are a few reasons:

TEXTing: Also called SMSing, which is again, short for Short Messaging Service. Every ‘text’ is charged per character and so, understandably, conjunctions (one of the eight parts of speech) and vowels (A…E…I…O…U, for those who do not remember them, thanks to too much TEXTing) are wiped clean from every ‘text’ to try and pack in as much information as possible, within the permitted 160 odd characters. It’s like a telegram. Except that it mutilates the language beyond recognition. The end result reads like the ‘text’ above. The race to conserve characters leaves English looking pretty characterless. Pun unintended.

The solution: Someone needs to send these policy makers back to school to get their language and grammar right. They need to be given a Wren and Martin as a standard issue perhaps.

Uncle Sam: English was supposed to be, for quite some time, a language Great Britain had a monopoly on. Those were the days when English was pure. And sweet. It had complete spellings, a clearly defined pronunciation guide, unambiguous grammar and all the parts of speech intact. Then, sometime in the mid 20th century, a new kind of colonization emerged. Linguistic colonization. Led by the notorious Uncle Sam, it was nothing short of a jihad or a crusade. There was a systematic elimination of pillars that bolstered the language. Z replaced S, so organiSation became organiZation and realiSe became realiZe. Letters we needlessly butchered and as a result coloUr became COLOR, judgEment turned into JUDGMENT. Z came to be pronounced as ZEE and computers started to sound like COMPUDRS. Even worse route (pronounced ROOT) became route (ROUT, which, in British English, has an entirely different meaning) and Iran became I-RAN (sometimes I really feel like asking Uncle Sam: where the hell did you run?). To ensure complete efficacy of this “Final Solution of the English question”, softwares like Microsoft Word began to set their default language to ‘English (U.S.)’ and promptly displayed a red line under the word when you typed the conventionally correct spellings. Talk about annihilation!

The solution (not to be confused with “Final Solution of the English question”): To begin with, set the default language to English (U.K.). So what if the software is from Uncle Sam’s land? It doesn’t mean we bow down to linguistic tyranny. Next, get the pronunciations right. ROUT to ROOT. ZEE to Z. I-RAN to IRAN. Third, if you can, go and bonk Uncle Sam on the head. Really hard.

KPO a.k.a. Knowledge Processing and Outsourcing: I am still a little hazy on the exact difference between a KPO and a BPO but one thing I know for sure is that whatever they process, it is definitely not knowledge. I mean, come on, there used to be a time when graduation was known to be the basic level of qualification one had to achieve in order to live a decent and comfortable life. Needless to say, since the benchmark of education was much higher, so was the knowledge of languages and their understanding. Then came the outsourcing boom. A boom that blew everything to smithereens. Another covert attempt at colonisation by Uncle Sam. Kids barely out of their teens, with an incomplete education, were being offered plum jobs; their pronunciation was being forcibly altered to suit Uncle Sam’s needs. Obviously, is kids of an impressionable age were offered such high paying distractions, they were bound to fumble!

The solution: If you have siblings, kids, nephews, nieces or any other relatives in that age group, deter them from the KPO life. Tell them KPO is a misnomer! Attack the root of the problem.

Sure there must be more reasons, and you’re welcome to point them out, but off the cuff, these are the three that struck me. Sure, I may sound archaic when I say that the language used in ‘text’ messages are a little difficult for me to decipher but that is not because I am averse to adapting, I just refuse to sit back and accept the mutilation of a language that brings me my bread and butter. Nothing personal. I mean, to evolve is one thing and to wipe out is quite another. Besides, it is a global language and hence any change will affect communication around the globe.

Till we restore English to its former glory – let’s keep the torch burning and the protest alive. Long live the revolution.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

1) Difference between KPO & BPO - BPOs do customer service for their clients over the phones - mostly catering to tech troubleshooting or providing billing/collection/account generation solutions to various industries.
KPOs are called KPOs and are different from BPOs as they usually provide solutions to their clients - these solutions are not just on phone - they could be very high end financial or IT solutions which would require professionals(engineers etc) to work on them, the nature of work and the profile required in KPOs is hence higher than for a BPO.

2) Blaming the murder of English language on KPOs is irrational to me....this trend is also common amongst the American school kids and college goers and is catching on here through them - there arent BPOs and KPOs there....so hhow would you explain that by your logic?
Think of people/ households where kids cant go to school or pursue studies - dont you think BPOs have provided a job employment to such population in the country , which let me tell you , is very high.

Language has changed fom earlier times and it will continue to change and evovle - what to you is murder - to someone else is cool :) now instead of sitting to judgement on it - lets move on!

Wizard OfCourse said...

Dear Anonymous,

first of all, thank you for the insight into the details of the difference between a BPO and a KPO. though yes, being a writer and a part of advertising and having handled KPO accounts, i do know the difference. but we shall let that pass.

second, how many people have really made a career of a BPO/KPO? and by that i mean how many have spent an entire work life there? besides, generating jobs is not the question here. an industry can generate jobs without murdering languages, you know? it is like...i gave you water when you were thirsty so i own your life so bow down to me! and yes, i never said the american schooling system wasn't at fault! evolution of a language is supposed to add to the progress, not make it regress. see the difference? next thing you will tell me is "what's wrong with writing i doings things that i wanting to does"!
another thing: cool is not equal to destruction. snorting cocaine is cool...being sexually promiscuous is cool...bullying people into submission is cool...throwing your weight around is cool...and so are a lot of other things. they're cool but not essentially correct. comprende?

Anonymous said...

"I am still a little hazy on the exact difference between a KPO and a BPO but one thing I know for sure is that whatever they process, it is definitely not knowledge." these are your words , which led me to understand that you need clarity on difference between a KPO & a BPO. Hence the explanation , pardon me if it was already very clear to you by virtue of your profession:)
Second, i know a lot of people who have made a career out of BPOs , yes , being in BPOs throughout , there are companes at a very professional level , handling the outsourcing business and let me tell you some of the best HR practices have cropped out of them - Genpact, Infy BPO , Wipro , TCS.

Now a lot of BPOs are captive(the parent company opens its own customer service arm - like 3G etc, here the BPOs imbibe the culture of the parent company itself - like if your company opens a customer support call center , it becomes their BPO, but pretty much your company....
Third party BPOs are totally different entities that support companies as their BPOs, mostly seen in telecom , where a UK client will call his vodafone UK call center number and an indian with a put on accemt will say, "hi this is kevin , how may i help you" while he actually might be a Karthik :) well you may blame them for language murder or whatever - point is - the lanuage that you seem to to be so deeply against , is more prevelant amongst school kids and college goers who might be "Cool" using it - it is also promoted by these social networking and chat sites , more than what it is in BPOs.

A call center executive when he picks up the phone and answers a customre does not go , " hey dude wassa, hows u hangin in dr"....he would be sacked at the moment :) language has to be respected all the more in BPOs , as you are talking to people who own the language!

Well, i do appreciate your response though , and i have nothing personal against your article, your love and efforte towards saving the English language is appreciated, i was providing a counter argument to the BPO bit.
Cool neednt be correct , i agree and i never said cool is correct.

I suggest you do a little bit more research on this and maybe then you will see the point that i am trying to make. but good thoughts in the article there.

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Whats in a name.......... said...

liked reading it! nice post!

classius said...

I hate ppl that think they can save time just by killing English...

myconoclast said...

writn lk ths helps me rite fastr notes n den wen i rite lk this in my exams, i flunk. bt it's nt my fault. da lnguage is changng. ppl shd accept 'd' ovr 'the' jst as they acceptd 'you' ovr 'thou' :)

bt den its ur bred n buttr, so i cn undrstnd d outrage!

p.s. sory 4 d rong spellngs. no spell chek in commt box. damn!

Wizard OfCourse said...

Dearest Myconoclast,

Thanks a ton for your comment. Now, about English evolving to change 'thou' to 'you', you see, the Brits invented the language and they are the ones who changed it. It's like if you're a mother, you have the right to scold your child but not a random stranger walking on the road! As far as it being my bread and butter is concerned, yes, it is annoying because now writing English is like memorising the number of sects of different religions in the world. Damn.
Spell check. Now, there is one tool I detest. Simple reason: it makes you handicapped. It's like getting a man used to crutches and then expecting him to suddenly bring home the Olympic gold medal for 100 meter running one fine day.
And I am so glad you read it and commented :D

Wizard OfCourse said...

Whats In A Name: I am grinning. Glad you liked it :D

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