General ramblings, Life, Thoughts

I Feel Irritated

A very amusing incident took place today. We are a group of five people working on Management Strategy Simulation. Two of us are Indians, including me, two are Americans and one is a Japanese. We were typing a paper that needed to be turned in ASAP. Let’s call the Americans A1 and A2, the Japanese- J and the other Indian as I.

I was dictating what needs to be written and A1 was typing it out, along with her own ideas thrown in. A1 is not one of the brightest students in Finance. It turns out that both A1 and A2 aren’t good in written English either. While A1 was typing the paper, I noticed several grammatical mistakes, including misplaced commas and hyphens (something which I can’t tolerate). Anyway, I let it go. Then we came to this part of the paper:

Our target markets are price conscious customers.

A1 insisted that is should be “conscience” instead of “conscious”. This is how our argument went:

Me: A1, I think it should be “conscious” instead of “conscience”.

A1 (looking at me as if I’ve gone mad): No! Of course it’s “conscience”.

Me (can’t believe what A1 just said!): Well…I’m pretty sure it’s “conscious”.

A2 (takes a peek at our computer screen): Ruhi, it’s “conscience”….isn’t it?

(J looks pretty lost and doesn’t know whom to support)

I: It’s “conscious”! Look up the meaning of both the words A1. You’ll see the difference.

A1 (getting quite mad and exasperated): Oh come on! I don’t think “conscious” is even a word (the mother of all dialogues…haha).

(A1 opens the in-built dictionary in Office 2007 and sees the meaning for conscience): See! I told you it’s gotta be “conscience”.

I: No, I don’t think so. Both the words are totally different. How can it be “conscience”?!

A2: I, you’re wrong.

Me: Please take a look at the meaning of “conscious”.

(A1 takes a look): It’s “conscience”.

(someone in the lab has been overhearing our little argument and decides to chime in): IT”S “CONSCIOUS” GUYS!

A1 (looks a little surprised because the other person who said this is an American): All right, I can’t believe it! (I can’t believe that I’m wrong when it comes to English and you’re right considering the fact that your native language isn’t English).

If you’ve noticed, the grammar is still wrong. I was too tired after this stupid argument.


Moral of the argument: Never assume that others aren’t right!

This has happened to me on a number of occasions. About a year and a half back, I used to work in a school on-campus. The kids who were in Junior High (8th to 10th grade) were quite immature and high-headed. Since my English was spotless, the only thing they could poke fun at was my accent. To tell you the truth, I feel sorry for such people. What they don’t realize is that there is no set rule that English can be spoken in only a particular accent or that only native English speakers can be good at English. A first grade teacher at this posh, private school asked one of my friends who happens to read very good novels whether he would be comfortable reading a first grade book. I found it to be utterly disgusting.

Luckily, I managed to move on to better things and leave that job after a couple of weeks. These kind of incidents are quite few, but they do take place from time to time.

I sometimes wish that people were a little less ignorant about people from other culture.


42 thoughts on “I Feel Irritated

  1. That was a tricky situation. Shows that, to the rest of the world, one’s ignorance is not bliss! I face the same at the workplace – and the problem is that you cannot afford to offfend your colleagues!

  2. bApHoMEt says:

    Don’t we Indians have a very neutral accent? I mean, it’s easier for more than half the english-speaking population in the world to understand our accent than the American one.

  3. @Sreejith:

    Totally agree…I could sense the tension in the air. The paper was under my name, so I couldn’t let A1 make that mistake either. It was a very tricky situation. Which country are you based in if I may ask?

  4. @bApHoMEt:

    Of course…I think our accent is easily understandable. There will always be people who have a problem because our accent doesn’t sound like theirs or who refuse to believe that we might be right and they might be wrong.

    I mean, it’s easier for more than half the english-speaking population in the world to understand our accent than the American one.

    I don’t know about that…because I haven’t traveled to Europe or Africa or Australia… have you come across any such instances?

  5. I totally agree with BaPhoMet,

    We Indians have a spotless accent. I interacted with some French clients in my previous project and (without intending any offense to the French as a people!), I did realize that our acccent is closest to the “Queen’s accent”.. if there ever was such a thing! .. Our accent IS very natural.. and if ours isn’t, then who decides which one is more “accurate?” ..

    People do need to be sensitive and accepting to cultures.. “Open Your mind”.. 🙂

  6. and if ours isn’t, then who decides which one is more “accurate?” …

    Yeah..I agree. I despise it when people stay abroad for only 2-3 years and start talking in a fake accent. 🙂

  7. I totally agree, accent depends on the area u come from, and if digged these guys dont speak original english either, its with brits.

    but i gotta confess i love american accent than the british accent, i mean british accent is so cornered and sharp where as american english is rounded and smooth. And yeah Indian English beats ’em all 🙂

    so u r doing masters in finance ha?!

  8. bApHoMEt says:

    @Ruhi: i was speculating about –
    I mean, it’s easier for more than half the english-speaking population in the world to understand our accent than the American one.

    I had a senior is school who went to the US for her summer and came back with the worst fake accent ever. and everyone knew it, except her. so there were loads of giggles when she read news at the assembly.

    @Maverick: i beg to differ on your stance that american accent sounds better than british accent. half the reason why british chics are hot is due to the accent.

  9. That was funny! Sorry, I know it’s frustrating for you, but I can imagine what the one who put an end to it all must have felt. 🙂

    Btw, I”d read somewhere “do not make fun of a person who speaks English with an accent, coz he’s one up on you in the language count anyway”

    Also, you must give the person who’s stayed here awhile some credence, that not all fake the accent. Soem of them naturally develop it. Some don’t despite staying here 30 years. It’s I think in the character, how open you are to change.

    baph – That’s coz half the world was under the Brit rule.

  10. @Maverick, Yes, I do like American English because it’s quite casual. I guess it has its pros and cons. To answer your question, yes, I’m about to complete my Master’s in Finance. Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

    @baphomet, yes, I have a lot of friends who try to do that…it’s quite annoying for me.


    Thank god someone put an end to it…I couldn’t bear the argument anymore.

    Btw, I”d read somewhere “do not make fun of a person who speaks English with an accent, coz he’s one up on you in the language count anyway”

    Totally agree 🙂 You have a very nice point there.

    Some people do develop it naturally, but I refuse to believe that someone who stays here for only about 2-3 years can pick up another accent so fast… I mean, my accent has gotten “softened”, esp. the use of certain words. But it’s still very Indian.

    It’s I think in the character, how open you are to change.

    Very true. Two of my acquaintances were determined to get rid of their Indian accent, and they did; that too in a very short span of a year or two.

  11. bApHoMEt says:

    @Rads: my cousin from germany once told me that she has never heard an accent like mine before. she said i have a high frequency shrill voice that always stresses the wrong syllable. i dunno if its a good thing or bad. but your quote makes me feel that i must be quite special.

    @Ruhi: my accent has gotten “softened”SELLOUT!

  12. Je-ee-z. I mean now I should show this to my mother who just told me that I was dumber than an American kid half my age. How can anyone probably mix up conscious and conscience? Writing the spellings wrong is understandable but mixing up the meanings is downright dumb.

  13. @bap- Haha…you’re funny.

    my accent has gotten “softened”SELLOUT!



    I mean now I should show this to my mother who just told me that I was dumber than an American kid half my age

    I would say that that’s very subjective…there are all kind of kids everywhere in the world 🙂 But how somoeone can mix conscience and conscious and go ahead and say that “conscious” is not even a word, is totally beyond my comprehension. You can imagine my shock.

  14. sk says:

    “A2 (takes a peak at our computer screen): Ruhi, it’s “conscience”….isn’t it?”

    Hate to be an a$$hole, but, Ruhi, it’s “peek”, isn’t it? 😉

  15. @bApHoMEt: I might be a bit biased here cos i live in america.But i feel american accent flows easily. And brit chicks are hot cos of their accent ? 🙂 I didnt know this. I haven’t been to britan but my perception of them is tht they are very formal and not tht friendly, and btw they dont turn me on anyway 🙂

  16. bApHoMEt says:

    @Maverick: Now that I have moved to America, I shall test and verify your claim :-). I dunno about you, but I find the Brit accent a massive turn-on (okay well, the chic has to be hot by default anyways).

  17. Swen says:

    I somehow agree with you there. British Accent sure is a massive turn on (again the chic has to be hot). And cursing sounds so much cooler in British English.

  18. bApHoMEt says:

    @Ruhi: “Bollocks!” Say that again. You have no idea about the effect you are having on me.

    @Swen: Let’s go to England.

  19. I totally missed out on this post!

    You think the American accent is weird, you should come down under (and by that I mean here, Australia)…I swear I couldn’t figure out a thing people said at work for a while and then unconsciously I developed a terrible accent as well.

    Thankfully, I’ve ditched the accent now…but it was scary initially.

    Now that you’ve said, ”bollocks”, I suggest you say, ”sod it” and wait for a few reactions as well. 🙂

  20. @Bap- Sod it now 😛

    @presti- advice taken ^^

    I swear I couldn’t figure out a thing people said at work for a while and then unconsciously I developed a terrible accent as well.

    Yeah…sounds quite familiar. Hehe. Well American accent is actually quite easy to follow. much clearer than British/Australian accent for sure 🙂

  21. Ruhi, alright, now let’s make it interesting shall we?

    You think American accent is easy? Try driving down to Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and understand what the guy behind the McD counter is saying, without going “huh” 😀

  22. bApHoMEt says:

    @Ruhi: Bugger!

    @Presti: “Fosters, Australian for beer.” I love the accent when they say that in the ads.

    @Rads: One of the things I’ve felt is that Americans talk a bit louder than the Indians.

  23. Louder? hmm..not sure I agree, but Indians do speak faster. That’s a fact. I still have to work on my speed when I address non-desis, esp during presentations and stuff.

  24. @Rads, Texan accent is kind of interesting, I would say..Haha…My landlord’s a Texan too. I like the way they talk…hahaha…totally drive me nuts even thinking about it. Haven’t ben to AL or Mississippi. Don’t want to go to AL, actually 😐

    Yes, we definitely talk faster. I need to “consciously” (sure that’s a word?) slow down too.

    @Bap- 😛 I feel that they talk louder too, but I’m kind of used to it now. They also tend to talk MORE compared to an average Indian 🙂

    @All- I don’t like Foster’s! Nothing against the Australians though.

  25. bApHoMEt says:

    @Rads: Yeah louder. They talk louder on their cell phones and they talk louder when in public places. Yeah and you’re right, they do speak a bit slower than us. and they construct sentences so simplistically, there is no fun. Plus they have all these standard phrases they keep throwing at you.

    @Ruhi: why not? well, its not that i like it or i dont like it, i have nothing against it. i mean i prefer good ol’ KF anyday.

  26. u shud have told that teacher if ur questioning my friend’s competency in reading a 1st grade book i will assume you are still goo-goo-gaing in diapers. LOL

  27. Baph: You’re having desi-withdrawal symptoms. *sigh

    Ruhi: Southern accent is such a drawl. It’s hard for me even in movies, unless I have subtitles. AL is better than Mississippi me thinks, Husband claims so at least.

  28. @bap– Umm…that’s a little difficult to answer…haha. I surely don’t have anything agaist it per se. I just like some other brands like Guinness, Blue Moon and Heineken better. Funnily, I’ve never had Kingfisher..LOL.

    @pallav– LOL!! I would’ve loved to say that to that old hag. Would have served her right…why didn’t I think about this then? Probably I was too shocked to react.

    @rads– Oh really? Hmm…Probably I need to visit AL then 🙂 Have you seen “A Clockwork Orange” and/or “Billy Eliot”? I’m sure after watching these two movies (if you already haven’t) that the southern accent is the ‘best’.

  29. bApHoMEt says:

    @Rads: Guilty as charged.

    @Ruhi: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and “Billy Elliot’ are British films, what have they got to do with American accent?

  30. @presti,’s not that popular here either. Budweiser is the most popular all American beer. I should try to get Carlton then.

    Go get some beer, put it in a coffee mug and drink it 😉 It’ll give you greater pleasure because you’re at work. Heh.

    @bap– Nothing to do with the American accent. Just that I find the American accent to be quite tamed when I compare it to the accent used in these two movies.

  31. Charl says:

    Honey, your English is spotless save for a few annoying flecks that can’t be missed by the professional eye.

    I hate how this will make me sound like a bitch, because I’m on your side; but I couldn’t believe the irony: you’re writing about being perfect in written and spoken (I assume?) English and here I am, a professional editor, flinching at your use of “to be” in constructions such as “I found it to be ironic.” Just a tip, but “to be” is probably an Indianism (I’m Indian, too, yeah); so best avoid it! It suffices—and is better for readability—to say “I found it ironic.”

    Secondly, you’ll notice that in the parenthetical phrase in the sentence before last, there is no indefinite article before “Indian.” Therefore, you can imagine why “a Japanese” sounded a tad revolting to me? Insert the article preferably if the adjective is preceded by a noun. “An American man.” “A Japanese person.”

    Thirdly, singular-plural agreement. If you get this wrong, you betray your clunky ESL status. Therefore, “people from other culture” should appear as “people from other cultures”; the plural noun “people” should agree with the correspondingly plural noun of “cultures.”

    Just thought I’d add a few tips, being the battle-hardened editor that I am. Sorry If I sounded cold. God knows, I could do with a few tips on how to make my written English lose the sting.

    Other than that, I’d say you’re English is pretty much excellent. And your blog even more so. And yes, we Indians sure know the language better than the so-called native speakers. Feel your pain, totally.

  32. Charl says:

    oh, here’s my big problem. I know English, but I excel in typos. Make that “adjective is followed by a noun.” I do know how to fall flat on my face, ha.

  33. @Hi Charl, Thank you for taking the time to actually read the entire post and point out errors. I’ll take your advice into account.

    Most of these posts are actually written in a span of a couple of minutes and I generally don’t re-read them for grammatical mistakes. So, it’s highly possible that I make mistakes here and there. After all, this is a personal blog and not a research paper 🙂

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