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English beyond borders

THE ASIAN AGE. | RUTH PRARTHANA
Published : Aug 28, 2019, 12:09 am IST
Updated : Aug 28, 2019, 12:09 am IST

Take a staunch Englishman to any of these places and he is sure to be appalled at the way sentences have been used.

By Charlie Croker Publisher: Michael O’Mara Books Limited, Pp.176, Rs 124.
 By Charlie Croker Publisher: Michael O’Mara Books Limited, Pp.176, Rs 124.

You’re packed and ready to go on that vacation that you have been planning for ages. You have booked a ticket to a country you’re visiting for the first time. You arrive and check in. At the front desk, you’re greeted with this sign — ‘Good Appearance please no watermelon please’. What would be your reaction? The English language may seem like a cakewalk. But the deeper you dwell on a language, the more complicated it starts to seem. And if the language is used in country where it isn’t taught at school, then you’re in for some especially hilarious situations. Lost In Translation: Misadventures in English Abroad by Charlie Croker gives you a sneak peek into how the English language is stretched beyond limits in other countries.

Take a staunch Englishman to any of these places and he is sure to be appalled at the way sentences have been used. The book includes hundreds of such gems that the author found on his travels abroad, in cities like Beijing and across countries like Korea and Spain. The book also touches on all the places where you can spot these hilarious signs, including planes, hotel rooms, road signs and even in restaurants. Tongue-in-cheek ones like ‘Choose twin size or marriage size; we regret no King Kong size’ with respect to beds, or the rather puzzling ‘Take Discotheque with or without date, in summer plus open-air bonging bar’ that is bound to crack you up too.

What makes this book a must read is the fact that author has kept it snappy. No long-winded explanations or analyses, just a couple of lines on what each sign says. His witty and sarcastic style of writing at the beginning of each paragraph is entertaining, while the amount of research and observation that has gone into the book is definitely commendable. And best of all, it’s written in way that won’t directly offend anyone but, at the same time, gives you food for thought when pondering over how this language that is centuries old has been understood and used differently in different parts of the world.

Tags: english language