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.
-END OF SCENE-
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.