Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fluency and Humor

Sometime back, i happened to run through an article on linguistics It said that there are three stages to learning a new language: the first is the basic grammatical structures and vocabulary, this is also what some people refer to as "survival" understanding of a language. The Second is you achieve the ability to communicate your thoughts, comprehend and articulate accurately or almost accurately. this might be call "proficiency;" Finally, you begin to identify the nuisances and refinement or the subtleties of a language that involves cultural understanding of concepts like humor, and this can be called fluency."

It's the point about humor that is of particular interest to me. What I have realized is that the index for what can be considered humorous is lowered considerably when you don't speak the language fluently. But the lines to follow definitely forces me to re-think on this. Hilarious in it's true sense and a revolutionary change it brought in with it!!

It is little known that one Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj Divisional Railway Office in 1909. This is on display at the Railway Museum in New Delhi. This was also reproduced under the caption 'Travelers' Tales' in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Okhli Babu's letter to the Railway Department :

"I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with 'lotah' in one hand and 'dhoti' in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shockings to man and female women on plateform. It is too much shame shame for me. Then I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that stupid dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers."
Now coming to the revolution this created, Any guesses why this letter was of historic value?

It apparently led to the introduction of Toilets on Trains :)
I hope this made you smile. Have a great day!

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