Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Communication Fundas - Part 5

Very early in my career I was fortunate to have friends who spoke their mind. They were open with their views without being offensive. They still are.
That Sunday as my friend, Ashish Balaya, and I walked together I said something that was long winded and an extremely complex sentence. Ashish looked at me for a second and said, "Amitabh, why do you always speak in complex / compound sentences?" I laughed it off. But his comment remained with me.
I had arrived in Bangalore from Gwalior - a town in north India. And though I studied in Central School, an English medium school, Hindi was the defacto lingua franca. Whereas in Central Schools in the south of India students would wish their teachers with a "Good Morning, Sir", a student in Gwalior wishes her teacher with a "Namaste, Sir". As a result, all the English I knew was derived not from spoken English, rather from the English books I devoured (I was an avid reader even then!)

Text books can contain sentences such as ... "Would the economy have fared any better without globalisation? Had it been closed to international flows of goods and capital, could it have adopted those productivity-cutting policies and paid no price at all? The answer is no." When you speak, this clearly is not on.

As a result of reading such books my spoken English was full of would's and could's, even when none was required.

That was some 20 years ago. My struggle to speak simple sentences continues. I am more successful with emails though. Once I have written what I wish to say, I re-read my emails and my final version is much superior to my initial draft. The language flow is smoother and easy to read.

By the way, the text I have given as example, above, is from a book called Economics: Making Sense of the Modern Economy, edited by Simon Cox. It is published by The Economist. More on it some other post.

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