Jeebus but that’s unlucky

An Indian may be the first known human being to have been killed by a meteorite hit. Authorities said that a small celestial body struck a southern college campus, killing a bus driver and injuring three others in an incident initially reported as a bomb.

Assuming that it actually was a meteorite of course. and isn’t this variation of English just lovely?

Condoling the death of a bus driver, Kamaraj, of the college in the incident, she announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to his family and Rs 25,000 each to the three injured
persons from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.

Condoling? Solatium? That second word exists in the Oxford, but that doesn’t mean that it gets used very often. Certainly not in a newspaper in our part of the world.

One of my pet theories is that given a little more time English will become mutually incomprehensible around the world, as Czech and Polish and Russian are from the original proto-slavic, as Norwegian and German are from the Old German, as French, Italian and Portuguese are from Latin and so on. What has prevented it so far is modern communications (perhaps) but there’s no real reason why it might not end up like German, with one (inter) nationally known and understood version and mutually incomprehensible local variations underneath that. It’s rare the person who thinks that Swiss German and Saxon German are the same language, after all.

25 thoughts on “Jeebus but that’s unlucky”

  1. I had a discussion on Friday with an Indian colleague about the use of “Annexure” as opposed to “Annex” in a modern British English document.

  2. I think the internet will stop it before it gets too far. (Standard) American and British English are remarkably similar despite the “founder effect” of a few west-country religious fundamentalists, and that divergence having started around the time of King James Bible (always worth reminding. It’s not that the language used back then is not rather different (if still quite understandable), but that the two varieties have evolved along similar paths,

    Indian English is special because it is the only variant in widespread use in a country where it is effectively a foreign language to the majority of speakers. The idiom arises from a combination of that non-mother-tongueness and the education system left over after decolonisation. That cuts both ways – British English is no longer influencing Indian English very much, and Indian English is no longer influencing British English at all.

    But you still have less mutual intelligibility between a Geordie and a Glaswegian than a speaker of Standard British English and a speaker of Standard Indian English.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Germany – “(Standard) American and British English are remarkably similar despite the “founder effect” of a few west-country religious fundamentalists, and that divergence having started around the time of King James Bible (always worth reminding. It’s not that the language used back then is not rather different (if still quite understandable), but that the two varieties have evolved along similar paths, ”

    Actually British and American English probably both started converging about that point. English has been strongly standardised by the King James Bible and Shakespeare. There was a lot more variation in the hundred or so years before Shakespeare than since. That is, the emergence of a standard English as defined by the KJB and WS has led to the imposition of that standard on dialect speakers leading to a more standard middle class English on both sides of the Atlantic.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Also chances of a bomb versus chances of a meteorite?

    Ummm. I think I would have to go with the bomb.

  5. “with one (inter) nationally known and understood version and mutually incomprehensible local variations underneath that. ”

    Have you been to Barnsley?

  6. Spitting image have.

    Travelled all around the world from Barnsley to Peru,
    I’ve had heatstroke in the artcic and a swim in Timbuktu,
    I’ve met the King of China, and a working Yorkshire miner
    But I’ve never met a nice South African…

    Classic.

  7. A few years ago, I was in a train on the way to Debrecen*. Opposite was a Norwegian medical student about to start his second year. Naturally, his English was flawless, but I asked him how his Hungarian (a notoriously difficult language) was coming along. “I can hardly speak a word,” he replied, “all my courses are in English. My professor says that in 100 years there will only be one language in the world – bad English.”

    * For those not familiar, a city in eastern Hungary with a noted university – you can think of it as the Hungarian Cambridge.

  8. re. Indian English – I encountered “Upgradation” in an email query last week. Was honestly puzzled as to whether it was a verb, adjective or some bastard offspring.

    Urban Dictionary was very helpful with the definition
    “Yet more garbage “non-english” spouted out by off-shore India IT people along with others like “do the needful” and “please revert my email with questions””

  9. At least it’s not the usual military-style or WTF? IT speak (DMZ, you have performed an illegal operation, there has been a fatal error, etc).

    And denoting errors as “bugs” may be the cleverest linguistic sleight-of-hand in human history.

    Not anyone’s fault obviously, it’s a bug, which means the punter will need to pay to correct it …. and only some sort of Doctor-grade bod “can do the needful”.

    Genius.

  10. ‘An Indian may be the first known human being to have been killed by a meteorite hit.’

    PLEASE! PROTECT THE LANGUAGE!

    A meteor hit can be fatal. A meteorite hit . . . what is a meteorite hit?

  11. ?Gamecock – a meteorite is (that part of) a meteor that reaches the ground. To be killed by a meteor, you’d need to be in a spacecraft.

  12. Jack C & BiW

    And for fucks sake, don’t stop using such terms. Explaining them to executives pays my mortgage!

  13. Love those indian numbers

    Lakh – 100,000
    Crore – 10,000,000

    used all the time over there, could be usefully adopted by us.

  14. The passenger behind the driver could have whacked him with a meteorite.

    ‘To be killed by a meteor, you’d need to be in a spacecraft.’

    Nope. It’s a meteor until after it has hit the ground.

    Reminds me of the old riddle: Where was the man when he jumped off the bridge?

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