Isn’t English The Global Language ? By Suhail Bagdadi

by Khanum

It happens so that when we see white men in India, commonly we start referring to them as ‘angrez’ or ‘firangi’. But if somehow we happen to interact with them, we realize that many of these so called ‘angrez’ can hardly manage to say, “No speak English”.


This is also very common when it comes to visiting places. Alhumdulillah, being a sailor, Allah has made it possible for me to visit quite a few places in Europe, Russia, South America and Africa. And one thing I have learnt from my experience while interacting with these people is that, most of them “No Speak English”.


It is quite a possibility that the “angrez” we were referring to could be Russians or Europeans. Therefore, if you plan a journey to these places (May Allah facilitate it if you so desire), more important than learning proper English, make sure you get your hand gestures right, for you will need them a lot.


A chief engineer on one of the ships I sailed on once narrated a story. He along with a few of his colleagues visited a place. His colleagues began to ask a local man where they could find a good restaurant. Lots of efforts were wasted with tongues until my chief intervened, “My friend, chop chop”! While saying so he made sure he moved his hand to his mouth two/three times. The problem was solved in seconds.


The phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, may not be applicable in all aspects of life but it is very much applicable when it comes to interacting with different people. You have to make them understand either in their language or in their version of English language.


During my IRF days I used to wonder why Brother Maqbool Barvelkar (The Event Manager and Chief PRO) had to change his tone and accent while responding to callers from various countries. It was only later I came to realize that he was just trying to be a ‘Roman in Rome’.


English is spoken as a native language in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Oh, and the Great Britain too.  There are very few countries in the rest of the world apart from those ruled by the Englishmen, which have English as a second or even third language in their School curriculum.


This is something similar to what we had in our very own state, Tamil Nadu. Not all the schools in Tamil Nadu had Hindi as a second or even third language until the recent past despite Hindi being the National Language of India. I hope things are changing now.


Hindi speaking people can be found in Muslim locality in Tamil Nadu as most Muslims in India speak Hindi/Urdu as their first or second language.


Many of the non Muslim Tamils who join the Merchant Navy for the first time cannot go beyond “Merra Hindi malun nai hai bai” but they do speak English because English is the International Language. Some of them have their own version of English.


A senior colleague from Ukraine had his own version of English too. Often he used to say “I am sinking” and we would understand what he meant was “I am thinking”. Sometimes he would say, “Please check the sickness of this metal” and we would understand what he meant was thickness of the metal. May be the Ukrainians pronounce the letter ‘T’ as ‘S’ while forming words, I thought.


But one fine day I found his written text. He had begun a letter to thank our company by writing “We senq you…” Now I realized that I was wrong in what I thought and he was wrong in what he was taught. Who taught him so? Even he may not be able to remember because he did not study English in his school or his Marine Academy, yet he is a successful Marine Engineer.


There are numerous successful, influential and powerful foreigners who need interpreters when they visit other countries because they do not speak English. Many of the Miss World and Miss Universe beauty contestants too have their own interpreters lest they might end up “Sanking everyone”.


Why wouldn’t a person who has not been taught English in his school be confused between the difference in pronouncing the words ‘to’ ‘do’ and ‘go’?


Why wouldn’t he find it difficult to figure out why there is a difference in pronunciation of the words ‘but’, ‘cut’ and ‘put’?


French fries were not invented in France yet they are called French fries.


Boxing Ring is always a ‘square’ yet it is called a Ring!


There is no dog in hot dog, yet it is called as hot dog!


The past participle of ‘teach’ is taught yet the past participle of ‘preach’ is not praught but it’s preached.


The people of Poland are either called Polish or Poles yet the people of Holland cannot be called Holish or Holes but rather called the Dutch!


Now as I conclude this note, let me specify that no matter how many countries do not speak English as their second or third language, most of the official documents, papers, emails, fax etc are exchanged in English between countries. So, English does happen to be the Global language. Therefore do learn it.


Furthermore, regardless of whether you interact with people globally or you don’t, there are people in our very own country waiting to “judge” your ability based on how good English you speak in interviews and group discussions and this is how they “estimate” how successful you would be in future, so what if numerous successful, influential and powerful people cannot travel without interpreters!!


4 Comments to “Isn’t English The Global Language ? By Suhail Bagdadi”

  1. lol.. speaking of Tamil Muslims..subhanAllah I’m a Tamil Muslim too..but I speak very fluent Hindi alhamdulillah..but the amount of convincing that goes into making people in my country India understand that I speak Tamil but am a Muslim is crazy! they just cannot grasp the concept and ask “how can a Muslim speak Tamil and not Urdu and still call herself a Muslim”! I mean seriously..its kinda crazy sometimes to make them understand that I can and do speak a different language, different from all the other Muslims in India and still be

    • The writer of the post can certainly relate to your situation : )
      As for me, I once had the chance to practice my arabic with an egyptian girl. Later she became a friend. She could not believe that Any other Muslim who is not an arab can actually read and write arabic. lol : ) each time I wud recite Any verse from the quran she wud go like ‘Ooooo wowwwww’ .

      Thanks for dropping by Nasmira !

      • lol @ the Egyptian girl..subhanAllah..
        I guess they would have major heart attacks if they found out that desis could actually recite Quran even with perfect tajweed and yet NOT understand a word of what they are reciting and run looking for translations! 😀

    • Exactly… : ) She always gasped with capital G !! : )

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