Published: October 10th 2010October 10th 2010
The Hindi made sense!
One does actually get the meaning here!
Please Note: I want to make it very clear that while this blog is about having fun it is not about making fun - of India or Indians. I have nothing but high regard for the way that many Indians are able to converse in at least 2 if not 3 or 4 languages. And so, I have no intention of causing any insult to my Indian friends reading this blog. If I have done so I apologise.
Let me try and explain my understanding of the complexities of language in India for my non-Indian readers not acquainted with this context.
Hindi is the official national language taught in schools across India. On top of that there is often a local language or dialect that children grow up learning and using (without checking I know I have been told that there may well be more than 150 local languages across the vast territories of India - I suspect this is MAIN languages because even in a state like Orissa where I am living, while the local language is Oriya, there are many tribal variations and dialects in rural Orissa).
THEN English is also taught in most schools as
What is a normal flush?
OK - I think given that in India one does not use paper but water to clean oneself - this toilet sign in a train actually means "in case your deposit is SO large that the works are gummed up - THEN use the Flush". But it did leave one in initial dumbfounded mode!
it is unavoidably now part of Indian tradition due to the many years of English occupation and rule. It is also seen as a vehicle for advancement in employment and economics. English is widely used as perhaps ‘more of a common thread’ in the Indian public service than English (although this may now be disputed as the ‘hindi-isation’ of spoken and written language has been pushed over the last few decades). Many many signs in India are written in English. Many people in cities and larger towns know a smattering of spoken English - and certainly well educated people use English extensively in their family and work lives (sometimes exclusively). When you hear many Indian talking together - there is also a jumbling of English words amidst the Hindi or other language. In fact - there are now many things in modern India where there simply is not a Hindi word equivalent.
This process and subsequent use of English is often referred to as HINGLISH which is a hybrid of English and Hindi. And fair enough! Some English word usage in India is totally part of the local idiom and while it sounds funny to English speaking foreigners, it
If you can reach this high!
This was of course at a place where you could pay someone to type a letter or other document for you.
is totally appropriate in the local context. What I am trying to say here is that while foreigners have great fun laughing at the use of English in India, they would also do well to remember the amazing grasp of languages that many Indians have and to appreciate the complexity of this country and the challenges it faces in terms of spoken and written communication across the board.
And so! - on with the fun which was the real point of this blog (as illustrated by the attached photographs). I have collected these photographs of signage in India which did make me laugh - and laughter is usually good for the soul no? While we foreigners are in awe of the many rich traditions and cultures and stunning places in India - we do enjoy the quirky elements that are mainly about ‘being so different’ from our own contexts. English signage is just one of those things.
p.s. I realize that most people who have traveled in India have seen these sorts of signs and more - so maybe just reminding them of the fun. For the rest - this is India!
There are more photos below