Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Bye bye Henry Higgins

I don't LOL. I am not an ROFL kind of person either. And I definitely cannot BRB.

Call me stuffy, call me old, but I'd much rather key in "yahahahha" to express my mirth than use acronyms. LOL for instance: It's become such a ... thing... that people don't even think before using it. Most places, I've seen people just smile, but actually type out LOL. And, hold your breath here, I've actually heard someone say it aloud, while snickering at a completely undeserving joke.

Joker: "So you heard the one where....... "
Joked at: (GiggleS) LOL that's really funny, man. Good joke. 


If that wasn't bad enough, they looked at me for reaction and when all I did was smile a little, they said, "Oh, you didn't get the joke?" See, now I don't want that to reflect on the people I hang out with. More often than not, the people I associate with are really smart, don't assume I didn't get the joke (even if I actually don't sometimes) and definitely don't say LoL. My people actually just laugh or tell me to buzz off if the joke really isn't funny. Even if it's terrible, they'll drown my in a pot of tar but they'll never tell me TTYL, thank god.

But then, I digress, as is my wont. This is not about jokes. I have nothing against jokes; in fact, sometimes I even appreciate them. Even though I am a right royal tragedy at narrating one. That's an art, readers, an art that very few have. And I belong to the majority.

This post, however, is about acronyms. As far as I can remember, I've detested acronyms. Maybe, because like everything else that I didn't like, I wasn't good at remembering the expansions. Many a general knowledge test certificate in my past display slightly decreased marks because I just couldn't expand wretched things like UNIKANTREMMBR or UNISFRIDJUTS.

When I moved to India as a young and totally clueless teenager, I was amazed at how many short-forms people used in conversation. I remember a friend in college once saying she was going to TP to get an FP. It completely threw me. Apparently, all she said was she was going to T(something) Plaza to get a Fountain Pepsi.

I am not so big on sodas so that could be one reason I didn't know the usage. But honestly, I didn't know that thing was called "fountain" Pepsi at all. Where I grew up, unless you bought yourself a can, everything came out of the "fountain".

That was just a precursor to sooo many short forms that it led me to believe that we Indians like to shorten everything. A calculator was called a calci, a computer, comp. These days I've even heard a laptop being called a lappy. Like a puppy who sits on your lap.

I know all of us who twist and turn the English language (including Arundhati Roy who dedicated The God of Small Things to her mother who "grew" her up) love the argument that English is an evolving language with as many dialects as there are countries who use it. But there's got to be a limit, no? Otherwise what's to say that a word that is wrongly used today will become the right word to use tomorrow, because 1 billion Indians (and counting) are using it everyday. Case in point: Over and over again, I've heard people ask me if my husband and I have siblings. Why, yes we do. How old are they? When we tell them there's utter shock and disbelief. And we're a little taken aback. They ask us, your children are that old? And we ask them, when did we start talking about children? Turns out, they meant offspring and not sibling. But they assure me I am the one who misunderstood.

For me, shortening words such as demonstrated in the above paragraph is inexcusable. I can't even shorten names to call people, however long their names are. I used to be nazi-ish about that earlier but I force myself to not stick to it these days because, what do you know, a lot of people prefer being called Spaz instead of Spandana.

25 comments:

Curry Pan said...

haha! siblings! seriously! (i'm sorry i spilt juice on my keyboard and my question mark key doesn't work anymore). And here i thought you move among the movers and shakers of the genteel part of society :)
it's so awesome to know dey jus fakin it! ;)

SunnySmile said...

LOL! I really did! That was hilarious, especially the siblings part! Even as an acronym/abbreviation and smiley-lover, I have to say some of those short forms used today really puzzle me! Could never have imagined a leap from those 'Expand ILO and WHO' in my GK papers to the present day when LMAO leaps out at me from my Google Talk window... Such is life, I guess.

Raj said...

I assume then, you don't tweet :)

Judy Balan said...

LOL@ Fountain Pepsi! Okay, not too loudly, but audible nonetheless :| I remember that one!

I think you mean Fountain Plaza. I used to live right across, so yes. It's true. They call it FP :D So she must have said she was going to FP to pick up FP.

:-O @ siblings: Never heard this gem!

Really nice post! Very different from your usual stuff. I like! :)

revsjoiedevivre said...

This post is not one of the after-effects of my confession in the mail right? No no, don't answer that :D

Guilty as charged for using LOL,ROFL and BRB. But I swear I know the difference between offsprings and siblings.

Nice post TRQ :) Loved reading it.

The Restless Quill said...

Currypan: Genteel? And my people? Ha! But these people who ask me about my siblings are new people okay? Not the ones who know me :P
Sunnysmile: Dude, I am upset no one caught onto UNIKANTREMMBER (UN i cant remember) and UNISFRIDJUTS (UN is for idiots). You, a lover of acronyms should have :P

Raj:Oh tweet I do. I just don't believe in shortening words. I believe in saying things as concisely as possible. Although, you wouldn't know that reading this blog, would you?

Judy:Sigh, yes, I have my good days Judy. I am glad you liked it :) But no, da, not Fountain Plaza, this was a place right behind Stella where there used to be a chat place also. Not gangotri.

RJDV:Oh no no, this was triggered by a conversation between two people on my twitter timeline. 90 percent of it was in shrtfrms tht i dnt undrstnd. THanks, girl :)

Raj said...

Nope. I thought 140 characters might constrict your words and thoughts :)

how abt txt msgs ? m sure u wld hv flln prey 2 this :)

The Restless Quill said...

Can I be honest, Raj? Unless it's a work text message, I don't read texts that look like that :D Delete! And I always use full words with T9 for mine :)
Twitter is my challege to say as much as possible in as little. Unless it's a random chat kind of tweet. My blog is when I am feeling loquacious :)

deepa ravi said...

TRQ...errr...see now I'm afraid to call you that lest you label as one of 'them'. I join you in being uncomfortable about acronyms and shortened names/pet names etc. I have never had a 'pet name' for my daughter. We had a neighbour who had two kids - the older one was...damn! I forget her real name...her pet name was Honey and the little kiddo (also forget her real name) was Sweetu. So they go through life being called Honey and Sweetu and when we talk about them my daughter pauses to clarify - "I'm talking about friend Honey - not the eating honey" !!! So yeah...why can't people just use original names.

I wish the Pappus, Chintu's Chunnus, Munnus, Maddy's, Spanz's of the world would listen!

And Lappy...hadn't heard of that one!!

The sibling anecdote is priceless :D :D

Chinkurli said...

LOL (really) at the subling thing. Seriously? They can use the word sibling but can't say babies/ kids...or Childrens? :D

And I knew someone who kept saying LOL LOL in conversation. Since he was Tam I kept thinking that maybe it's the Cool Tam Word to Use in English (like - ugh- Macha). Then one day I asked him, and he enlightened me :-/

Chinkurli said...

Oh and I think the FP thing was started by the Pepsi guys - I remember an ad...sorry, advertisement, which said "I want my FP."

Sree said...

Hahahah...and still laughing. Acronyms I use, smileys I lavish but as many you may have noticed, I am more of a "three dots" person. Most of my sentences are decorated with "...". It could mean anything from change in subject, to continuation, to exclamation, to a 'comma-effect'.
For now am still ha-ha-ha-ha over the sibling one. I've always thought myself unlucky for being the single child, but now then I have reason to smile. I do have a one-and-a-half year old "sibling son".

The Restless Quill said...

Deepa: Honey and Sweetu? You know what their future is going to be no?

Chinkurli: Seriously. Siblings. ANd hey, I like Macha, it's such a cool word :P What? Really? Pepsi ad guys need help man.

Sree: Smileys I have absolutely no problems with. Yes, now you can tell teh world of course you have a sibling.

deepa ravi said...

Imagine life for Honey's boyfriend...when he calls her his honey - there will be no thrill, no novelty value. And Sweetu...gaaaak!! I choke. I run.

Roxana said...

Haha, nice post. I came across a Gans Subramanian last evening - he used to be Ganesh!
When I joined this IT company that I now work for, I was given an entire list of acronyms to understand - FYI, FYA, FYINA,WRT, PFA!
Not entirely related, but a couple of other usages that irritate me no end are, dramatic in place of drastic and what in place of that. For e.g, Moving from Bombay to Bangalore was such a dramatic change for me! WHAT is the drama you are talking of, again?
2. The ingredients in this recipe what are used are x,y,z. I heard this sort of sentence construction on national news! :)
Love your English posts.

dropzofjupiter said...

ROFL!!! at the Siblings bit...ummm come to think of it...i have never rolled on the floor laughing...only read about it in Enid Blyton's!! I should try it no??

Chinkurli said...

Hey, you've been tagged :)

Galt said...

Hahaha. The people who asked you about your 'siblings' probably should not be having offspring.

ttyl
RK :P

three peas said...

Very funny! :D I love your nazi-ish posts about the English language. I'm guilty of using lol but not when speaking. There should be a law against that! I do try not to use acronyms but it depends on who I'm writing to. I shall try harder from now on! :)

The Restless Quill said...

Deepa: Have you read my Mallu names post? Honey and Sweetu are going to breeze through life.

Roxana: You lost me after FYI, by the way. Come to think of it, drastic and dramatic can easily be interchanged, especially since Bangalore is full of dramaebaazes :P Thank you Roxana. I love the language :)

Dropzofjupiter: Hey! Yes, see that's my thing - it's not even really funny and people say they're rolling around laughing or falling off their chair guffawing. The next time you're in splits you know waht to try :) Be sure to report here please :)

Chinkurli: Ah! Tough tag. Brilliant tag! Will do.

Galt: I suspect you're a horrible acronym user as well :P Love you

Threepeas: Hey! Welcome to the blog. Thank you; I think the good posts come out of my love for the language. :) Oh no I have no problems with people using shortforms, I just get really annoyed when that's all they use :)

LittleGreenBluesman said...

i say, acronymonious post, what?

but i'm with you on this, all the way.

there were two former colleagues of mine called bob and perry. so what's the big deal, you might think. so did i, till i found out that bob was short for hariprasad bobhate and perry, for periasamy senthilkumar.

6 years down the line, i'm still recovering.

notgogol said...

When I was in college, a pretty gujrati girl once told me that my writing was like a shot of insulin to her.

Apparently, she meant testosterone. I still don't know why she would need testosterone :|

The Restless Quill said...

LGB: Giggle :) I've heard quite a few of those.

notgogol: How do you know she meant testosterone and not adrenaline? :)

Anu Russell said...

I find the usage of the word "no" before a question a very Desi habit. Like you did in the post above.

Because you are on a path to making sure that the English language is spoken/used correctly, wouldn't you consider rephrasing that sentence, no?

The Restless Quill said...

Anu: Actually, the usage of 'no' to ask a question is not an Indian English habit alone. It comes from translating our mother tognues. So you have the French, Italian, Spanish, Arabs all using a "no" to ask a question when they speak in English. And do so in their native tongues as well. And as for rephrasing the question, no, I'd like to leave it just like that - especially because I use it deliberately and not without thought. My aim is to not speak it/use it like it's supposed to be used, but merely be respectful of grammar. I am more than open to English evolving with local flavour, as long as they get the grammar right. Or we wouldn't be doing coffee and going dancing, no?

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