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Quality of English

 
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I been noticing this for quiet some time now.

Why is the quality of English used by Indian members so atrocious? I mean I can understand typos to some certain extent. (the other day someone had written "Hi gays.." which I am sure was quiet unintentional), but when you see someone use "Please say me..." instead of "Please tell me..", it makes you think. Then there is the classic case of people ending their posts with "Thanking you, Sincerely Yours..."

So, does the quality of English matter in professional life? I have personally worked with team mates from various countries and cultures. The only "difference" I noticed was the accent, but never such bad English.
 
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I think its mostly because of thinking in vernacular and then translating it to English. For example 'say' and 'tell' have the same word in Telugu (my native tongue. I'm sure its the same in other Indian languages as well).

The structure of English language differs significantly from Indian languages and I think most mistakes are a direct result of that. You had mentioned other countries and cultures which get English right. Are they by any chance European? How many of them have a language structure different from English?
 
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You said


I been noticing this for quiet some time now.



I believe you meant 'quite' as you followed up with


I mean I can understand typos to some certain extent.



;-)

Well I have always believed that the idea behind the use of any language is to convey ideas. As long as the end objective is achieved isn't all else secondary? (Corrected on Ulf's choice of a better term)

Cheers,
Raj.
[ August 22, 2008: Message edited by: Raj Kamal ]
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Originally posted by Raj Kamal:

I believe you meant 'quite' as you followed up with ..



Hahaha Though I did talk about typos, you certainly got me there. I stand corrected.

 
Maneesh Godbole
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Originally posted by Satish Chilukuri:
Are they by any chance European? How many of them have a language structure different from English?



Well the non English people I worked with were Germans and Chinese. Though Germans are technically European, as far as my knowledge goes, I wouldn't say the German language structure is the same as English (the verb in the last place and other stuff).
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
but never such bad English.



I will correct your sentence for you.

but never such a localized English.

Sometime back I posted a thread, now I least bother about language (true, in some extreme cases, it may cause problem because of Indian English).
 
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Originally posted by Raj Kamal:
Well I have always believed that the idea behind the use of any language is to convey ideas. As long as the end objective is achieved isn't all else futile?


Striving for a better command of language certainly isn't futile, it should come in handy on many occasions. Perhaps you mean "secondary"?

But either way, I disagree. In its logical consequence that would lead to IM or SMS speak, which has its place where space is at a premium (SMS) or an almost-synchronous conversation is desired (IM). For forums, neither is true. I think it also shows courtesy towards the intended reader to make the written word as easy to read as possible.
 
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Originally posted by R K Singh:

but never such a localized English.



I beg to differ. There is nothing like localized English. Its either good or bad English.

But then we are deviating from the point. My original question was

So, does the quality of English matter in professional life?

 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:

Why is the quality of English used by Indian members so atrocious?


Because writing or speaking proper english was never considered seriously.As somebody said before 'as far as message is conveyed,its fine'.Most of us read newspapers which are full of mediocre english.Most of us watch TV channels not known for depth of subject or quality of english.
 
Ulf Dittmer
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Though Germans are technically European


In lots of ways, I should hope, most of them non-technical :-)

But Europe's big place, with many rather different languages being spoken, some not even being part of the Indo-European language tree. With that in mind, German and English are pretty close.
[ August 21, 2008: Message edited by: Ulf Dittmer ]
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
I beg to differ. There is nothing like localized English. Its either good or bad English.


So would you not consider British English, American English, Indian English, etc. to be localized variants of English?
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
I beg to differ. There is nothing like localized English. Its either good or bad English.



American english is localised. There are many difference to how english is spoken/written in America to how it is spoken/written in the UK. There's an example in this paragraph.
 
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Good use of the language is important in professional life, and that is an extra challenge for non-native speakers. To compete, they have to compensate in other ways, e.g. by providing better technical skills for the money.
 
Arjun Shastry
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I think what Maneesh want to say is sentence formation,tense etc need to be correct whether is British or American or Indian english.He won't care if somebody writes rumor or rumour!
 
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Originally posted by Ulf Dittmer:

So would you not consider British English, American English, Indian English, etc. to be localized variants of English?





American english is localised. There are many difference to how english is spoken/written in America to how it is spoken/written in the UK. There's an example in this paragraph.

I would consider color/colour or localised/localized or even "What's up Doc" as localized/slang, but certainly not "Please say me.."
There is a huge difference between a language flavor/flavour and the localized/localised version of a language.
 
Joanne Neal
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Originally posted by Arjun Shastry:
I think what Maneesh want to say is sentence formation,tense etc need to be correct whether is British or American or Indian english.He won't care if somebody writes rumor or rumour!



Okay. An example of localised English.

I'm going to visit with my friend.

In the UK that is incorrect (and sounds really horrible), yet in America it is (I assume from hearing it so much in US programmes) perfectly fine.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
I would consider color/colour or localised/localized or even "What's up Doc" as localized/slang



But you said earlier there's no such thing as localised english.
 
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Originally posted by Ulf Dittmer:

In lots of ways, I should hope, most of them non-technical :-)

But Europe's big place, with many rather different languages being spoken, some not even being part of the Indo-European language tree. With that in mind, German and English are pretty close.



My native language, Dutch, is more closely related to German than it is to English. Basically, if you pronounce Dutch with a German accent, and crank up the volume, it's a nearly identical match! Kidding, ofcourse
Still, while I consider my English to be fairly acceptable, my German is plainly horrific.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Originally posted by Arjun Shastry:
I think what Maneesh want to say is sentence formation,tense etc need to be correct whether is British or American or Indian english.He won't care if somebody writes rumor or rumour!



Not really.
What I mean is you should never say "I will be working from home as my eyes have come"; but rather "I will be working from home as I am down with conjunctivitis"
 
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Originally posted by Joanne Neal:


But you said earlier there's no such thing as localised english.



Absolutely. Color/Colour still sound the same. Thats just a spelling variant, like an accent, if you will. "Please say me... "does not. It is plain bad English.
 
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language is a complicated thing. Take a look at this map. It shows how within the U.S., different regions refer to a carbonated beverage by "pop" vs. "soda" vs "coke". I refer to it as soda, but if I visit my cousin in Alabama, they'll look at me funny unless i ask for a coke - even if i want a Pepsi.

So, I'd say there is no such thing as an "American" dialect. You can have a southern, a new yorker, a valley girl, or some other dialect, and each will have it's own rules.

I'm sure that many Americans would have a hard time picking up any of the Indian languages/dialects.

As to how it effects your professional life... Ideally it shouldn't. Most people I know make allowances for non-native English speakers in both written and oral communications. That is not to say that this is universal. There are still some folks in the world who look down upon anyone who is in the slightest different, from skin color to dialect to age.
 
Ulf Dittmer
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
There is a huge difference between a language flavor/flavour and the localized/localised version of a language.


Can you give some examples? The difference is not clear to me.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:


Absolutely. Color/Colour still sound the same. Thats just a spelling variant, like an accent, if you will. "Please say me... "does not. It is plain bad English.



Just as 'I'm going to visit with my friend.' is plain bad english if you live in the UK, but is perfectly fine in the US.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:


Not really.
What I mean is you should never say "I will be working from home as my eyes have come"; but rather "I will be working from home as I am down with conjunctivitis"



I wouldn't have a clue what a person meant if they said that, but if they said "Please say me..." instead of "Please tell me..", then, although it sounded awkward, I would at least know what they were trying to say.
 
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Originally posted by fred rosenberger:
As to how it effects your professional life... Ideally it shouldn't....



Ideally!
Actually what prompted me to post this topic today was a placement advertisement by my own company. I work for a company which is based out of US and has offices in Canada, UK, India and Australia. One of the "desired qualifications" mentioned was "good English communication skills". So that got me wondering, how important that really was.
 
Ulf Dittmer
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Originally posted by fred rosenberger:
As to how it effects your professional life... Ideally it shouldn't. Most people I know make allowances for non-native English speakers in both written and oral communications. That is not to say that this is universal. There are still some folks in the world who look down upon anyone who is in the slightest different, from skin color to dialect to age.


Quite true. Plus, awareness of linguistic differences is key. For example, to a Brit who's communicating with an American, the latter's spelling may look atrocious. Only the knowledge that that's a point where BE and AE diverge will help one overcome this bias. The American will, after all, be fluent in English, and as such one wouldn't otherwise make allowances for linguistic differences.

Now, that's a contrived example, but it goes to the heart of the matter, I think. As to leaving typos, well, in this day and age of spell checkers I think it's inexcusable in a business document, just like following the rules of punctuation.
In online forums one might relax that somewhat, but then, people there are free to skip a post/question if they're turned off by the spelling. Regrettable? That's subject to debate. But it is human nature, and not everyone will be prepared to fight against it.
[ August 21, 2008: Message edited by: Ulf Dittmer ]
 
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Originally posted by Ulf Dittmer:

Can you give some examples? The difference is not clear to me.



Way I look at things, color/colour is a flavor/flavour.
"I will be working from home as my eyes have come" is an example of localized English.
 
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Originally posted by Ulf Dittmer:

people there are free to skip a post/question if they're turned off by the spelling


Not really, but the text editor does provide for correction of basic grammatical mistakes.

As to Maneesh's discussion about localized/incorrect usage of English, I'll say that this is probably a personal preference.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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This has been a really interesting conversation (at least for me).
But,
..as night has happened, and late is happening, I need to go home. Hope to see you all tomorrow.
Until then,
Believe me to be,
Sincerely Yours,

Maneesh


PS. Sorry. Couldn't resist that parting shot
 
Joanne Neal
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:


Way I look at things, color/colour is a flavor/flavour.
"I will be working from home as my eyes have come" is an example of localized English.



Seriously ? Somewhere in the world that actually means something to someone ?

[ August 21, 2008: Message edited by: Joanne Neal ]
[ August 21, 2008: Message edited by: Joanne Neal ]
 
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Originally posted by fred rosenberger:
As to how it effects your professional life... Ideally it shouldn't. M



But realistically, it does.
Human cummunication is complicated - if not inherintly flawed - and conveying complicated concepts or trails of thought can be very difficult, even if people are on the same page, language-wise. In complex domains, which I certainly consider IT to be, crystal clear communication is often critical, and I can understand why the added inconvenience of a language barrier would be considered unacceptable.
 
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Originally posted by Raj Kamal:
As long as the end objective is achieved isn't all else futile



The end objective is to communicate, but if you make me work hard deciphering your fractured syntax, I may miss the real meaning of what you are trying to say. In this business, we have so many ways to miscommunicate, subtle technical things, jargon, etc.

How much it hurts, I can't say. But it makes a difference.
 
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It's true, it does make a difference. I have to admit, when I read a post that is full of fractured English and strange usage, my first feeling is always... how to put this nicely... that the poster looks foolish. But I pull myself together and imagine what it would look like if I tried to post on a forum in a language I wasn't very good at. Fortunately this works for me and I manage to treat the post professionally. At least I hope I do.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Originally posted by Joanne Neal:

Seriously ? Somewhere in the world that actually means something to someone ?



Absolutely! It is a genuine, 100% authentic example of "Localized" English, which is supposed to mean

I will be working from home as I am down with conjunctivitis



Perhaps now you agree that there is nothing like localized/localised English, but just good/bad English?
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
It is a genuine, 100% authentic example of "Localized" English,
...
Perhaps now you agree that there is nothing like localized/localised English, but just good/bad English?


To me, it seems to indicate the opposite, but then, I don't see the difference between "localized language" and "language variant/flavor".

Each language, and each localized version of a language (like American English or Indian English), has its own vernacular (or maybe several regional ones), with phrases that have no discernible meaning to someone who is not familiar with it.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:


Perhaps now you agree that there is nothing like localized/localised English, but just good/bad English?



I agree with Ulf. It shows just the opposite. If someone said that in the middle of a conversation (and all parties to the conversation believed it was an English conversation) and they were understood by the other people in the conversation, then it is an example of localised English.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:


"I will be working from home as my eyes have come" is an example of localized English.



which language of India does this map to that causes this to categorized as 'localized' English ? would you mind telling me? I've tried to translate this into Hindi, the language I speak and from no angle can I see anyone considering this as having any meaning.(Hindi or English) This is nether bad English or localized English nor some sort of idiom as far I can tell. Sounds like gibberish.
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
I been noticing this for quiet some time now.

.



It is quite normal for people to think in a language which they are more comfortable with and translate it more or less verbatim into the lanagauge which they want to convey something.

English is not the first language for most if not almost all the folks in India, it is more or less the second, third, fourth or worse just heard at street corners kind.
So when someone who(may) speaks a different language at home, with friends, with the loved one comes online and wants to ask a question he/she does what comes naturally think local/translate/type/wait for answer.


Marathi - "dole aale aahe mala"
English verbatim translation - my eyes have come
What is actually meant - I have conjuctivities

Hindi - "Mujhe bolo"
English verbatim translation - please say me
What is actually meant - please tell me, Hindi - "Mujhe Batao"
 
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Originally posted by Maneesh Godbole:
Perhaps now you agree that there is nothing like localized/localised English, but just good/bad English?

Not really. I get confused when somebody says "I have that sorted now", for example. In some varieties of English you can use "sorted" to mean "solved", but in my variety you would say "sorted out" to mean "solved". I especially get confused when the topic of the post was sorting (arranging objects in sequence).

This is localized English, but not bad English.

But I don't get confused when somebody says "I am giving SCJP next month", even though all standard versions of that would use the word "taking" rather than "giving". I know perfectly well that they aren't going to be administering the exam to a group of people, and that this is just a bad translation from their native language.
 
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Originally posted by Joanne Neal:
I'm going to visit with my friend.


Just curious: what would the correct way of saying it be in the UK?

Originally posted by Raj Kamal :
Well I have always believed that the idea behind the use of any language is to convey ideas. As long as the end objective is achieved isn't all else secondary?


Yes. But the end objective may NOT be achieved if language gets in the way. I don't consider a few typos to be a big deal. And I don't mind incorrect spelling/grammar from people trying really hard to post in English. (I certainly wouldn't do nearly as well in their language.) I do mind IM/SMS writing on the forums though and am likely to not read posts containing it. Which means the ideas aren't be conveyed and the end objective isn't being met. So it is possible for the quality of English to matter.

The same thing for a professional environment. If I get an e-mail with a question using IM/SMS, the person gets peppered with questions about what each thing means. I don't think I should be required to decipher a secret code at work. There's a reason we don't write in pig latin at work and I think that should apply to IM "words" when you aren't on IM.

[edited to fix typo]
[ August 22, 2008: Message edited by: Jeanne Boyarsky ]
 
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