Friday, August 31, 2012


You were so slim
elegantly simple
like the letter aliph,
as the arabs say.

You did so much 
with so little, 
ignored often, you
never complained

You stood for 
lingusitic unity
not the hard
mathematical one.

You bestowed space
breathing and personal,
granted me choice - 
nothing was final.

Sentences swirl around me
I miss a quiet presence
singular, ethereal
indefinite article 'a'.

* Bidding Adieu to the Indefinite Article in Modern Indian English

"I have sent you one mail", messages a friend. "Yesterday I saw one movie", informs a colleague.  A kannaDiga youngster comments with disdain, "he is one fellow" - translating "ಅವನೊಬ್ಬ" directly.

The more I hear conversations and read mails and messages, the more I miss the indefinite article, and hence this Adieu.


  1. Kashi7:29 pm

    'what what like you can correct?' I have some 60 engineers reporting to me directly or indirectly. Of these atleast 15 are Indian who have had their engineering education (& presumably higher secondary before that as well)in English medium and find their internal/external correspondence atrocious (spelling incl. proper names/grammar). I edited for a long time and tried to educate them but finally gave up because the business is progressing anyway.

  2. :) There is no correcting it. I am just lamenting!
    I am on the editorial committee of a magazine and I have not edited/corrected just one article!
    English is alien to us, to a large extent. All of us are influenced by our mother tongues. But this is just fashion or bad habit.
    Thanks for reading and the comment.

  3. Anonymous12:27 pm

    Nice poem and I liked the bit on "translating "ಅವನೊಬ್ಬ" directly" to "he is one fellow"

  4. interesting point of view. kannadigas make a direct translation into english agreed. but i make up for their lack of using a. these days i don't say, 'pardon me' or 'i don't understand', i simply say 'aaaaa?' and in doing so i use so many beautiful a galu.
    it is used in a different context no doubt, but still...