August 27, 2013

(Impressions, Perceptions and Experiences ^ (of a Desi) in Deutschland)


That is right, no?


A common habit amongst Indians is to end a spoken English sentence with a negative. If you tuned into some casual chatter between two Indians, you would often hear a ‘no’. To an untrained ear it might sound like we are a nation of naysayers, but actually, no! (There I go again), we are not disagreeing with each other all the time (even if we did, we might just detonate a bomb or cut off one another to express the disagreement rather than use a mild ‘no’) 

India has many regional languages and dialects and the more widely spoken ones have a strong influence on the way we construct our sentences in English. 


An example of a typical dialogue with a negative ending:

A: it was you who called yesterday, no?  I just saw the office number.

B: Yes, it was me. But what happened to you? You were supposed to be there at 8, no?

A: But I am working from home these days, no? 


It is a cultural characteristic. 


This is the influence of over two dozen regional languages and their innumerable dialects.


It is India’s verbal mutation of spoken English – an alteration that makes the style our very own – a style that is distinctly, India. It is not uncommon to hear the same negative endings in the regional languages. Khao na in Hindi means, ‘Eat no’ – it actually implies a request to eat offered with a right to refuse. Only the tone in which it is uttered can connote rudeness or politeness. We append most spoken sentences with this negative ending more as an unconscious habit. And this habit showcases a certain aspect of us, which is, to make our dialogue less assertive (aggressive?). The ‘no’ at the end of the sentence is meant to be inclusive by requesting the opinion of the person spoken to. It is a chance for the other person to disagree or differ. It is an Indian’s acquired way of saying that ‘I could be wrong or I would like your opinion’. 


A few months into my weekly German lessons and I noticed this similarity between spoken German and spoken Indian languages, particularly English. It is a common German trait to end sentences with oder? , while it is not negative like the ‘no’ we Indians append, it implies the same – doubt, inclusiveness and a right to differ.

 Different ways to soften spoken language with different words! And in the different ways there’s a similarity, no?


Richtig, oder?


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