English: Our ultimate judging criteria

Published January 7, 2015
What is the point of even going out for dinner if I cannot laugh at the way the waiter says ‘Fajita’ or ‘Lasagna’? —Illustration by Sajjad Haider
What is the point of even going out for dinner if I cannot laugh at the way the waiter says ‘Fajita’ or ‘Lasagna’? —Illustration by Sajjad Haider

People in Pakistan are always embroiled in a rat race against each other. So many diverse groups, so many opinions and such diverse backgrounds; in such an environment, I am glad we have an objective way of judging better people from the worse: how good one’s English is.

Spoken English is without doubt the ultimate criterion to judge a person here. Has somebody made an incredibly logical point on Facebook that you find irrefutable by their use of ‘there’ instead of ‘their’? Bingo, you win. Their point has been rendered moot and you have been declared the winner of this debate by virtue of you correcting them.

Your use of ‘there, their and they’re’ is far superior to theirs, so it logically follows that you not only possess more intellect but belong to a much more evolved strain of human beings.

One spelling mistake is all it takes to render any argument completely and utterly useless.

Also read: Jimmy nay socha: English

What is the point of even going out for dinner if I cannot laugh at the way the waiter says ‘Fajita’ or ‘Lasagna’? If I am in a particularly good mood, I make my best move: ask them if they have ‘hors d'oeuvres’, and then sit back and watch them struggle to repeat the word.

We should all go around asking people to say that and make videos of them. We could call it the hors d'oeuvres challenge.

If you’ve ordered the wrong thing but do not want to admit your mistake, you could simply shout at the waiter in English. What's he going to do? He can't argue back in English, right?

The technique works every time. I have even used it on traffic policemen. How else do you think I've been avoiding traffic chalaans all my life?

I thank the British for giving us the gift of language.

It has made the division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ so apparent. No longer do I have to think about race, ethnicity or religion. I can make friends simply based on whether the person can spell ‘friendship’ or not.

Nothing makes me happier than reading somebody misspell 'friendship'. Even if I am having the worst day imaginable, one message from a ‘frandshapper’ can turn it around. In my benevolence, I often also take a screenshot and share it with all my friends. All of us laughing at that person’s inability to spell in English makes us feel incredibly better about ourselves.

Also read: The imperialism of language

The British ruled over us for over a century, they took away our dignity, our land and our pride, they even took away our spices but we are a resilient nation. We took something from them as well — their language.

I wonder who’s laughing now, the Briton getting his tongue burnt from eating Chicken Curry at Edgware Road in London or every Pakistani enjoying a cup of the white man’s tea.

It's true: we beat the colonialists by acquiring the ability to write out this sentence.

Your language is now our language, Britons. We can stroll into your colleges and universities and laugh at our foreigners struggling to understand everything. We feel we are a part of you. You do not only teach us science, medicine, art and business but also culture. We listen to your songs and we laugh at your shows. No more do we have to bore ourselves with the history of our local literature and culture; we can simply borrow yours.

We feel you are so much a part of us that we have even stopped teaching our kids their own languages. I mean is Karachi even a part of Sindh? I do not see anyone speaking Sindhi. It is right at the edge, can’t we just break it off and sail it all the way to England?

All I am saying is, ‘Simon, come back’.

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