What is your Minglish like ?
There are many hilarious English language moments in my life that I remember; having shared those moments with my son and other people in my life; as a result of the differences in the English language as we each know (differently). My pronunciations and vocabulary are mostly “Bringlish” (British English) versus my son’s are “Anglish” (American English). I will admit that after living in the United States for close to half of my life (it seems longer, did you really think that I would give you an opportunity to calculate my real age?), my English is more like “Minglish” which is my flavor of the language, English.
My Minglish is uniquely influenced by where I was born, the languages and accents I regularly heard as I was growing up, my native language, the English language that I learnt as a child, my work and social circles and my rate of adaptability to the English of the place that I live in today. My Minglish can be hence summed up as a unique combination of the influences of my native language, Bringlish, Anglish and Californiaish (the melting pot of English language in California, the state where I live in). I will also add that one’s Minglish is also influenced sometimes by one’s parents, especially if they are an Indian or South Asian parent, you are constantly (exaggeration “intended”) reminded to speak English only in a certain way for the fear that your speaking English in a different way will strip you off your appreciation or understanding of your own culture. I also realize that I have a mild (“mild” is a subjective opinion) “Indian or South Asian” accent which is more pre-dominant in my conversations with my Indian or Desi (what Indians call themselves when they are in a foreign land) friends than my non-Indian friends.
Now apart from the hilarious ones, there were several irritating English language moments too. The most common experience that I remember was when I used to pay essential bills whilst driving to work using my hands-free (without a doubt, follow the law and safety at all times; have no idea why I am writing this, as if a police officer will read this article and come and give me a ticket if I did not include the details). This was all before the arrival of the online/web-based billing systems and now mobile banking.
During the course of these calls, using the automated phone systems, I would always experience a multitude of wrong menu choices; IVR technology geeks, are you reading? This is largely because the automated phone systems only understand Anglish. There have being long spells of frustration using these systems; longer than those when my husband had his eyes on the game and would comment on how beautiful I looked in the new red dress which was actually green. Thereafter when a live Customer Service representative spoke to me; I had to either repeat or finally spell long street names to the representative as my Minglish was not understood easily; it used to get worst if the Customer Service representative was from Overland Park, Kansas who only understood the “K-World” (The world as perceived by the people living in Kansas, speaking a different flavor of the American English called “Kanglish”).
It is very clear that an English conversation between people is an interplay and exchange of the multiple variations of words and their pronunciation, the underlying cultural perceptions, native language accents, and all other things that subtly happen when people are communicating. For starters, I am sharing a list of commonly used Bringlish words for my Anglish speakers (including my son) so that each one is able to better understand the other:
- Full stop — Bringlish (British English), Period — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — The one that occurs at the end of a sentence and not the other period.
2. Surname — Bringlish (British English), Last name — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — Surname pronounced “Sirname” why not “Madamname” for women? Also Last name sounds so fake as it has changed a multitude of times for many people so how could it be the last name?
3. Plain chocolate — Bringlish (British English), Dark chocolate — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — Plain=Dark only applies to chocolates, there is no universal application of this as an adjective for any other object or noun.
4. Candyfloss — Bringlish (British English), Cotton candy — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations —There is no connection of candy to floss or the act of flossing for better dental hygiene or even candy to cotton clothing and summer wear but yet it is an important word for kids, teenagers, parents worldwide to know.
5. Chips — Bringlish (British English), French fries — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations —This needs to be read only by non-technology readers because their understanding of Chips is completely different.
6. Fish fingers— Bringlish (British English), Fish stick— Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — Neither do fish have fingers, nor do they carry a stick but please know what I want if I ask for Fish fingers.
7. Green fingers— Bringlish (British English), Green thumb — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — We do not know whose fault it is that the British chose the finger over the thumb. Do not think it is St.Patricks day when I say I have Green fingers.
8. Lift— Bringlish (British English), Elevator — Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — I mostly walk down the stairs in the interests of staying fit so both lift and elevator I use interchangeably for going up.
9. Postbox— Bringlish (British English), Mailbox— Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — British English uses Postbox because it has to do with mailing letters and dropping them inside a box owned by the Post office. American English uses Mailbox to mail letters by dropping them inside a box owned by the Post office. Whatever, you get it that they both mean the same thing.
10. Maths or Mathematics— Bringlish (British English), Math— Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — Why is it Math, in singular in American English and Maths, like a plural in British English? The subject History is not Histories or Geography is not Geographies in British English. This is yet a puzzle.
11. Nappy— Bringlish (British English), Diaper— Anglish (American English). My Comments/Observations — Nothing to do with napping.
I might as well write this — This article also follows my Minglish rules of grammar; brackets, semi colons at unheard of places within a sentence. Before you start criticizing me, remember; you have embraced Twitter and have being making long conversations using a maximum of 140 words; using emoticons, emojis, hashtags, starting sentences with hashtags, drawing my attention using @, hash-tagging my articles, pictures; my whole life has indeed become a hashtag.
This article is merely trying to help people understand and appreciate the differences of the English language across cultures, countries and people; so that these differences never become a barrier to understand someone, to get to know someone, to comfort someone, to help someone, to do business with someone or to just share a thought or an opinion on things that matter.