The aim of language is to communicate

Certain licence with brevity is considered a major artduring the time of social media

Actor Vishal with media: “we fight for mgr, sivaji like seniors built memorial building and old artists safe and protection same time not aginest to actors. If they ready to cancel multiflex idea and build same nadigar sangam building we withdrawn from elections. We shame inner fight in our nadigar sangham elections. We approach for court the all elections going on Sunday why nadigar sangam announce.”

The above message was an alert sent out on a media group on the ongoing tussle between groups of actors in the Nadigar Sangam elections. The author is anon, although one suspects this was a journo typing in a hurry from inside the press conference. This is the age of the mobile phone, which brought in the short service message (SMS) concept wherein everyone had to learn to squeeze their thoughts into 160 characters or less in the first phones that came out to India about two decades ago.

Certain licence with brevity is considered a major art in these times when the social media Twitter allows only 140 characters. Not everyone is a genius in coded messaging as the Brit, General Charles James Napier, once proved when he sent a one-word telegram back to the Home Office in Britain saying simply “Peccavi”, which in Latin means “I have sinned”, thus conveying the message he had taken the Sind province. A neat little pun there that may have an early standard for the pun pundits, although there is some doubt over whether the story is real or someone simply wrote it up for the Punch magazine.

We can’t throw the Wren and Martin at today’s generation, which is stepped in ‘telegramese’, the language once used as an economising tool of brevity as the Post Office would charge you by the word. For example, today’s ‘Gr8’ conveys its fanciful brevity through sound and phonetics more than a savings in letters, but it does convey the meaning, as also the more famous ‘LoL’ on SMS and Facebook, now the universal short form of ‘laugh out loud.’ And then, of course, there is the ubiquitous Smiley of the computer age that tells its tale through emotions – emoticons of the new world telling it all like a picture telling a thousand words. The graphic props have made messages so much more interesting, even if a few applauding hands on WhatsApp or a bevy of hands folded in ‘Namaste’ or ‘Vanakkam’ can sometimes be overwhelming as we build a mutual admiration group.

For the confusing tones of the message out of Vishal’s ‘presser’ the blame could partly be laid on Tinglish, although it is a language that often acts as a virtual bridge in communicating. Tinglish slips into conversation pretty easily, especially in situations where conveying the same sense becomes difficult in English. Try asking in English this question – Nee unga appavuku ethanavathu pillai? “How many brothers do you have and in what order were you all born?” sounds a lot more complicated. Hundreds of phrases like ‘head going job’ and ‘showing my face at the reception’ are classics that have bridged the divide through colloquial convenience.

In an interview the other day Ramdev was heard complaining to the anchor “One percent of English knowing population governs the other 99 percent in the country.” Add all the Tinlgish and Hindglish speakers and maybe the one percent is an underestimate. But, more of that later. Right now, it’s ‘Ciao’ or ‘copper’ till next week.

( Source : r mohan )
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