2 December, 2020

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English: Opens More Doors Than College Degrees

By Jagath Asoka

Dr. Jagath Asoka

Dr. Jagath Asoka

An extensive knowledge of English can open more doors than a college degree. How well you speak and write is governed by your understanding of grammar, syntax, diction, punctuation, and pronunciation.

I have to tell two stories, one from my childhood and another from my youth. When I was around eleven-years old, I was invited to a birthday party. I do not know what kids do nowadays in Sri Lanka at birthday parties, but when we were kids we played different games. One of the games that I played on this particular evening made a big impact on my life. My friend’s sister brought a tray full of trinkets and asked us to look at them for thirty seconds; then she took away the tray and asked us to write down the items that were on the tray—people of my neighborhood spoke English at home. I could remember almost all the items, but I struggled because I did not know how to name them in English. Of course, I did not win, but it triggered something in me. From that day onwards, I started learning new words in English. Now, I begin my day with learning new words. I always consult a dictionary, and try to use the new words as often as I can, until they become a part of my active vocabulary.

The second story is related to the first story because it happened with the same childhood friend. I had returned after earning my MS from Ukraine.  Before I left Sri Lanka again in 1986 to pursue my PhD studies, I was teaching chemistry, first at Kelaniya and then at the University of Ruhuna. One day, I was in Fort, Colombo, and I walked into my friend’s office building; he owned the building and had his office there. As we talked, he mentioned about an interview that he had conducted just a few minutes prior to my arrival. I still remember his words: “This guy I interviewed today has a science degree from Kelaniya, but he could not speak English at all.” I tried my best to defend the hapless graduate; but my friend was looking for a science graduate who was fluent in English.

In Sri Lanka, the elite use English as a weapon to intimidate the hoi-polloi. I know some Sri Lankans, who failed all the subjects except English, but they think college graduates are idiots if they are not fluent in English. In my neighborhood, all the kids were fluent in English; I was an exception; but I read more books in English than some kids from my neighborhood. When I left Sri Lanka to pursue my education in the former USSR, I realized that my English was much better than other foreign students; so it gave me some confidence to articulate my thoughts in English. I also read books in English as often as I could. I have never met a foreigner—British, Americans, Canadians, etc— who would denigrate, mock, or ridicule you for speaking broken English or for mispronouncing words; but they are a dime a dozen in Sri Lanka. Here is a fact: Even the elite Sri Lankans and those who are very fluent in English do not know how to pronounce properly. Think about this: English is taught as a subject in Sri Lanka; we have TV channels, Radio stations, newspapers, books, and a plethora of other ways to learn English, yet only around 3% speak English fluently in Sri Lanka: If I am wrong please correct me and give me the actual number. How come? All of you know the answer: the fear of making grammatical mistakes and the fear of mispronouncing words; this fear is tangible and real because there are people who are waiting to ridicule and denigrate you. The funny thing to me is that those who ridicule and denigrate others, they, too, make beastly mistakes and mispronounce more words than the words they utter. When I returned to Sri Lanka in 1984, I was somewhat nervous when I got my first teaching job at the University of Kelaniya, because I was under the impression that those who graduated from Sri Lankan universities were fluent in English: That was one of my worst assumptions.

Like everything else that I cherish in my life, my fascination with English started with a daily ritual. When I was a child, my father would teach us English while my mother prepared dinner for us. My father would correct our pronunciation and explain the definitions of the words that we did not understand. He always encouraged us to consult our English-Sinhalese dictionary, and that was the beginning of my fascination with English and my never-ending journey toward learning English. When I was a teenager, one of our family friends, Merrick, gave me an English-English dictionary. I was curious about this precious gift. So, I started looking up the words that I did not know. It was very difficult at the beginning, because my vocabulary was not powerful enough, and I could not understand the definitions that were given in English. After becoming a professional writer in 2001, I started paying more attention to my grammar, syntax, diction, and punctuation.

This article is not a pronouncement about pronunciation, but now I struggle with pronunciation. Have you ever been in a situation where others could not understand what you had said because of the way you pronounced a particular word or a phrase? For the last 26 years, I have been in many situations where I had to paraphrase to avoid confusion due to my beastly mispronunciations. As recently as last week, my son corrected me when I said the word “abominable.” I pronounced it as “abo-mi-na-bel” instead of “uh-bom-uh-nuh-buhl.” You don’t have to be a language maven to recognize mispronunciations, even a ten-year-old child like my son—my Pronunciation Guru—can do it. Is it worth worrying about pronunciation? Does anyone care about it anymore? Is distinct and careful pronunciation desirable? What is more troublesome, inarticulateness or mispronunciation? Most of us are not smitten by the bug of correct pronunciation. But most of us would say that our diction and how we pronounce the words that we have chosen is a mark of refinement.

Of course, my origin of mispronunciation goes back to my childhood; I have been trying to unlearn what I was taught in my childhood. In Sinhala, as far as I know, there is no difference between the way you spell a word and the way you pronounce it. For example, if your native language is Sinhala, then you would probably think that there is  “dip” sound  in diphthong, and “pronoun” in pronunciation, but these two words are pronounced as  “dif—thong” and  “pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn.” In Sri Lanka, it was almost ubiquitous to pronounce the word “zoology” as a word with two syllables, first syllable being “zoo” [zoo-logy], instead of [zoh-ol-uh-jee];  “geometry” as [geo- metri] instead of [jee-om-i-tree]. It took me a while to realize that there is no “zoo” sound in the word “zoology” and no “geo” sound in geometry. The most common mispronunciation in Sri Lanka is “flim,” for “film.”

Over the years, I have made a constant attempt to pronounce words such as geology [jee-ol-uh-jee], mythology [mi-thol-uh-jee], and biology [bahy-ol-uh-jee] correctly by paying more attention to each syllable. I used to pronounce the ending of these words as “logy.” I think I still pronounce it as “logy” when I am not somewhat conscious.

Now, I have realized why people could not understand when I said vegetable [ve-gi-ta-bel] instead of “vej-tuh-buh l,” or vehicle [vey-hi-cal] instead of [vee-i-kuh- l’], and spaghetti [spa-ge-tee] instead of [spuh-get-ee]. Mispronunciation and “two-ways-to-pronounce” are not the same issue.  For example, the word aunt is pronounced as [ant] or [ahnt], but when you say “new-kyuh-lur, instead of “n(y)-oo-klee-ur” you are mispronouncing it.

Even though I have lived in this country for 26 years, taught college students, worked as a writer, and often mingled with native speakers, I still have a distinct accent and mispronounce words almost in every sentence that I utter, and mispronunciation invokes a visceral reaction. Even though I mispronounce words, I, too, unconsciously judge others when they mispronounce words; for example, “nuclear” and “realtor” are often mispronounced even by the native speakers. Every time, when an American says “new-kill-lur” it makes my skin crawl.

Once, I called an anchor of a popular Sri Lankan news program and asked him not to mispronounce the name Achilles—the anchor kept saying “a- chil-ees” instead of “uh-kil-eez”—because I firmly believe that people who watch his program would repeat his mispronunciation, and soon all Sri Lankans would mispronounce the word Achilles. So, it is not hypocritical to say that mispronunciation is one of my pet peeves.

Whether you like it or not, people will judge you by the words that you use and the way you pronounce them. So, is there a “cow” is “Moscow”? Most dictionaries give us two options: mos-koh or mos-kou. Any dictionary will tell you how to pronounce a word and its preferred pronunciations, but often will not discuss mispronunciations, historical precedents, and trends. When I am ambivalent, I always consult an online dictionary (for example, dictionary.com) with sound capabilities as a guide for accepted or standard pronunciation. Often, I am unaware of my own mispronunciations until someone points them out to me. It is better to be ambivalent than adamant; however, I have also noticed that there are pronunciation discrepancies among major dictionaries. When dictionaries cannot agree, it is very troublesome.

I have never told my son or my students, “Don’t worry about grammar, diction, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and pronunciation because all these stuff are useless and boring.”  Like most of us, I am embarrassed when I mispronounce words. Of course, you can live a comfortable life, make money, have friends, and even become President of the United States—George W. Bush did it—even if your pronunciation is beastly, but you will be judged by your diction and the way you pronounce them.

My constant struggle with pronunciation continues; as I am writing this article, I mispronounced the word “fascination” while having a conversation with my son about the English language. I know one thing: My son cares about my choice of words and the way I pronounce my chosen words.

Do not let others intimidate you with English. Do not ruin your career and suffer because of bad communication skills and pronunciation. Spend a few minutes a day to improve your English. Read voraciously and indiscriminately; read great novels, and read books on philosophy, politics, religion, history, mythology, and any other subject that you do not have earned a degree. I have left school, but my learning still continues.

I am not Professor Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, but I, too, can identify origins by accents. I think not only English people must learn to speak properly but also Sri Lankans and Americans because this is what truly separates social classes, not your looks or money.

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Latest comments

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    Very motivating article. I shall share with journalism and English students. I wish the local radio news readers would read this too. Some of them are atrocious and really need lessons in diction and pronunciation.

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      Hey dude Jagath, I really like reading your interventions. But proper English diction is not a panacea. Just look at the uneducated, MODA Sinhala Jarapassas and their pathetic English diction – and where they are now – lording it over us Colombo 7 English speaking Tamil Burgher types and grabbing our lands?!
      Today the real Kaduwa language in Lanka – at least for minorities – is Sinhala (swabasha). If you are Tamil or Burgher, English is the language of escape and liberation from the PRISON HOUSE OF SINHALA LINGUISTIC NATIONALISM! Even with an Ivy league Ph.D and the Queen’s diction they will not give you a job in the sorry to say – third rate – Sri Lanka university if you are Tamil or Burgher.. Sorry to say Machan the Sinhala Swabasha educated Moda petty bourgeois are green with jealousy and envy of the English speaking minorities… That is why Lanka university system is a HUB OF IGNORANCE today..
      I have faced reverse discrimination because I do not speak Sinhala so fluently and am hence embarrassed to speak the language at all, because people start giggling at my pronunciation..
      Likewise, I know of Indian Origin estate Tamils who have the same problem and their Indian Tamil language is looked down upon by both the Sinhalas and Ceylon or Jaffna Tamils. So, there are multiple forms of discrimination and to most Sri Lankan Tamils Sinhala is the KADUWA language..
      In short, Dude J we need a good discussion on this subject and i hope you will write lots more on this subject of language, culture and class including discrimination… Cheers dude!

      • 1
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        I have just seen a photograph of our Maharajah, trying hard to keep himself awake at an International Conference. It looked like he could not follow what was going on, and the effort was too much for him to keep his eyes open!

        • 3
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          ________________________________________
          DOES SRI LANKA NEED LANLISH/SINGLISH OR SINGAYLISH FOR USA
          ________________________________________
          CNN-Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN-IBN) is an English-language news and current affairs television channel based in Noida, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.
          The channel is known for using a type of Indian English influenced by Hindi. [3]
          HISTORY
          Like elsewhere in the world, CNN International only reached the urban elites in India. In order to reach the Indian masses Time Warner together with an Indian company- Global Broadcast News (currently TV18 Broadcast Limited)- launched the India-specific CNN-IBN on 16 December 2005. CNN-IBN is completely run by TV18 Broadcast Limited, which only uses the Cable News Network (CNN) brand name.[4]
          Currently, Time Warner’s India-specific CNN-IBN is watched by more people than its CNN International, although both channels are in English. [5]
          Since its inception, the channel has been reaching out to an average of 45 million households every day.[6]
          ________________________________________

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            The best design is the design that sells.

            At the end of the day Americans look up for that British Accent.

            So we have Julia Roberts, and for Action 007 BBC.

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      Dr. Jagath Asoka,

      Thank you for bringing up an excellent point, about precisely communicating both in written form as well verbally.

      Until perhaps the 70’s, those students, who specialized in Chemistry and perhaps Physics, at Colombo and Peradeniya, were requires to know technical German and French, because of the old literature in those subjects, and there was small penalty not not knowing. Of course they were expected to know English, write in English and Communicate in English.

      Not knowing English in today’s world is a great disadvantage especially in Science, Engineering and Business. It is like not knowing Math and Calculus for a Science and Engineering student. The hands are tied. English needs to be taught early, so that the child can think in English as well his native language.

      So, the poor knowledge of English permeates the Sri Lankan Universities, and this is perhaps one of the reasons for the decline of academic achievement in Sri Lanka.

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    Dear Dr. Jagath Asoka,

    Your article brought back many memories for me, as an English newscaster, at Sri Lanka’s state TV station Rupavahini.

    Most of my generation of newscasters, were trained, by iconic broadcasters such as the late Jimmy Bharucha. For him, there was only one English language- British English (not its American counterpart). Hence, we were cast in the British-English mould. Our ‘bible’, was the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, by Daniel Jones.For me, this dictionary continues to be my ‘bible’ though no more a newscaster.

    I recall, during the first Gulf War, CNN was a new TV channel. My Guru, Jimmy Bharucha ‘banned’ me from watching CNN, as he was afraid, my British-English would become ‘corrupt’, with American-English. I was allowed to watch BBC only. For instance ‘lieutenant’ had to be pronounced as lefˈten.ənt (British), and not lu: ten.ənt (US). Then ‘schedule’ as ˈʃed.juːl (British), and notˈsked.juːl (US). Though we, newscasters of a government owned TV station, had to read out, a lot of bilge most of the time, we did our utmost, to do it in ‘good English’. Hence, even today, I come across people, who regard us as their ‘English teachers’. They tell me, that they used to watch, the Sinhala or Tamil news telecasts, and then watch it again in English, to learn the language.

    At least, our efforts, were not in vain.

    Sharmini Serasinghe

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      This is all bloody nonsense. It is exactly this kind of thinking that has led to the decline in English literacy among Sri Lankans. Most students are afraid to speak because they get ridiculed if they make a mistake, either spoken or written…………………………. Yes, English is important. Very import. True. However what is important is not whether we get nuances of pronunciation correct but be able to express ourselves in a way the other person can understand without difficulty………………………. The only way to do that is to use the language. Use it often as possible and start learning as early possible. We are not British. Nor are we Americans. Then why on earth are we bothered so much to pronounce English the way the British or the Americans pronounce it? Do the Chinese, the Indians, the French … do that? Please get it out of your system and don’t put it into the heads of our children that we have to pronounce English the way the native speakers do……….. We don’t. Nobody cares how English is pronounce today as long as people can understand it. Most English speakers are not native speakers………… The goal is to be able to communicate fluently. Not imitate native speakers………………….. Trying to imitate a group of people that we are not is an utter waste of our valuable time, especially when language is only one of the important skills that a student needs to master. Sri Lankan mindset is such that not being able to speak either Sinhala or Tamil (for Tamils and Sinhalese) is a non issue, but making a simple error when speaking English is reason for so much shame.

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        Navin,

        Your English pronunciation is obviously pretty bad, or else, why get so mad?

        No language should be mispronounced. It is an insult to the language and to those, who regard it as their mother tongue.

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          “Your English pronunciation is obviously pretty bad”

          How do you know that? he didnt read out to you ne. :) he is not pronuncing for you to listen.:) i think your vocabulary is pretty bad.

          • 4
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            and you sound like skunk in a spin-drier!! Whoooohooo!
            “☻/
            /▌
            / \ Pollution is the dirtiest word. (^o^)(^o^)

            • 0
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              Nothing logical to say? i can understand!

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        Navin,

        The question is, what is a Language?

        A Language is a medium of Communications, so that there needs to be some standards so that both parties can communicate and be understood. This is what Dr. Jagath Asoka is saying. He also says, errors need to be forgiven and not ridiculed.

        With computers you have computer languages and protocols so that the computers can communicate with each other such as TCP/IP.

        What is money? It is a medium of Exchange.

        What is a Language? A medium of communications.

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    True, If I am fluent in english I wont be in this shithole country. Sadly my father always advice me to study hard. I ignored him, now end up doing bring up cattles and farmimg.

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      Sad Sad Sad! Muthu. No wonder Sri Lankans, both Sinhalese and Tamil, who spend all their money to get on leaky boats to Western Countries, find it very difficult to Integrate, and have to take on menial jobs to keep body and soul together. Diction and Pronunciation do not matter, if one can speak, read and write good grammatical English that can be understood by the locals. As Professor Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’ noted, even Englishmen from the various regions of Britain, do not speak the Queen’s English, and in America they have not spoken it for years!

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      Muthu, I am disappointed at your comments. The two most common faults with our Sri Lankans is that i)the fail to understand the dignity of labour, and ii) they think that ‘English and overseas’ is the panacea for all our shortcomings. The chances are that if you are failure at home, you will probably be a failure in the big wide world. Sadly there are too many Sri Lankan expatriate failures who return putting on a brave face and misleading the gullible locals. Be proud of your mother tongue and work hard to succeed in what opportunity comes your way.

  • 3
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    Jagath,
    It is good opinion with lot of good examples and common issues lot of us facing. As you mentioned, It is not a good feeling when you express your ideas and the receiver cannot comprehend it completely because of our accent, and seeing their polite attempts to understand us.
    World has become a village, everyday you come across with Singapore accents, European accent, east Europian, Chinese accent, then English/Scottish/Irish accent, American accent (norm?) ….
    It is not only the accent, the way we put sentences together is depend our culture too. This could be worse than pronunciation. Perhaps we, all communities, have to put more emphasis on understanding all sort of accents we hear regularly, rather than trying to imitate only one accent.. British, American or Australians?? What most of us use is international English…
    Like you said about your son, my daughter was trying and helping with my pronunciation issues. When she was younger, she couldn’t understand why I can’t say certain sounds or combinations of sounds. Then I ask her to say “Subha Udhasanak” and she struggled and she still struggles.. When she is older enough I mentioned to her that she can’t say her last name correctly. At one stage I thought it was unfortunate. But Now I think there is nothing good or bad about one can’t pronounce his own name the way their fathers used to say it, this is the new world we live…..
    Anura

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    I just finished reading just 4 para. Article seems very informative. I’ll come back & read when time permits.

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    What’s the point or purpose in just writing for the sake of writing to get things off one’s chest or back without responding to the readers’ queries or concerns? I did not waste my time reading this piece that seems to state the obvious in a round-about and devious way to apparently boost your ego. Isn’t the word eternal simple enough and why use eviternal? Alas is this not more to do with your showmanship that negates anything good you may have written BFO?

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      mahulchandran or Mal C Spencer,

      Your’s is a typical frog-in-a-well attitude. Time to come out and face reality, man!

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        The bloke could teach jughead the school teacher and you, moron.

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          IRCs of your kind can roll the sleeves and show off the others. This has been the known culture colombo kakkas. I really dont know Why you guys even bother to pass your 2cents worth comments to this thread.

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            “|”IRCs of your kind”\2

            Beggars cannot choose get that into that smelly skunk of your [Edited out]

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        What’s the point or purpose in just writing for the sake of writing to get things off one’s chest or back without responding to the readers’ queries or concerns? I did not waste my time reading this piece that seems to state the obvious in a round-about and devious way to apparently boost your ego. Isn’t the word eternal simple enough and why use eviternal? Alas is this not more to do with your showmanship that negates anything good you may have written BFO?

        You can call yourself by any name and write any muck as the many others on this website. Some of the false and ugly names used by most readers’ disgusts that I skip almost all those comments and only read those who comment with their real names with a few exceptions like Sengutuvan and Safa. These days there are several types of English that belong to the respective countries as a legacy of the British Commonwealth that the internet gives you the option to choose anyone of them like American English, Spanish English and several others.

        The people in the USA I reckon deliberately chose to pronounce words differently, like driving on RHS of the road as opposite to the continent to recreate a partial new identity with changed emphasis on syllables and pronunciations with words such as either, neither, finance.

        Then there are physiological limitations imposed by nature on the first language that we speak that precludes us from being able to pronounce other words of another language that well. It has been observed and confirmed by others that Tamil children who first learn to speak Tamil don’t get their Ausi English accent and pronunciation as authentic and well as the born and bred Ausies but should they speak English first then their Ausi accent is not affected and they tend to get a better deal from the Ausi system.

        Once I had a Japanese friend who could never get him to pronounce the name of a sister of mine which begins with the sound GNA the closest was GA. However much we may talk about one vote for one person and us all being born equal. The sad ugly truth is that we are all not born equal nor endowed as equally be it mentally, physically, emotionally or culturally and we are more in reality natures little experimental prototype robots really meant to eat or be eaten (fight or flight) and to procreate and multiply within the more realistic unholy trinity of food, sex and living beings that recycle again and again as food, sex and living beings for nature to improve on its by-products for the apparent self realisation of nature itself.

        Recent discoveries and analysis has tilted the nature Vs nurture debate to favour 65 to 75% to nature. A recent Ausi study has revealed that most criminals and repeat offenders are mostly mentally retarded and/or handicapped like some of our political leaders too are trying to make a virtue out of a real vice as portraying a weakness as strength in their uninformed and misinformed ignorance and stupidity not unlike you and your majority ilk.

        Why does dude Jagath not respond to the queries and questions whilst we try to respond to what he poses or is this all a pose and boru show?!?

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          Mahulchandran or mal c Spencer,

          For the life of me I can’t understand why you even bothered to read this article, leave alone comment on it.

          Unlike you, there are several on this thread who greatly appreciate this article.

          You obviously have a personal grudge against Dr. Jagath Asoka.Your comments reek of it.

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            Scottish Accent- We are born Different Jackass!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n1mfhFBYdg Say what you want!

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              Who are these we ? Colombo nitwits of your sort ?

              • 2
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                You got a rocker fart that has tickled your balls-iris

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            Mahadana Mutta@ I agree with you.
            Some have not got the message of the article. That is why they add this kind of comments.

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              Try SENNA for Constipation even the Chinese recommend it in their menu.

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            “Why does dude Jagath not respond to the queries and questions whilst we try to respond to what he poses or is this all a pose and boru (false) vainglorious show?!? “

            I did not read it but merely perused it and have come to know of this dude’s existence only through this website. Why don’t you and like mind dumbo’s ask him to respond to my questions in this and his other previous write-ups of his instead going at a tangent and displaying your stupidity? As long as he does not respond to my questions and queries I have to take him to be a partially deluded verbose and grandiose humbug like you and many other hundreds or thousands who peruse read and/or respond to this site without any proper or true identity verifiable anywhere much like some criminals in Australia who are even helped to have name change and new identity at the time of their exit from prison life to carry-on cheating duping other victims which probably has something to with Ausi’s predominantly convict beginnings and adversarial system of law crafted for the “robber barons” from the 11th century to-date which serves folk like you very well so keep your s***y work.

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        Does English matter at all to the peoples of China, Russia, Koreas, France, and Spain Germany etc? Did not SL want to be like them when the lumpen majority proletariat voted for SWRD in 1956 and does MR and his gangs carry on the same things directly and indirectly in various guises with most parliamentarians elected and bought speaking in Sinhala in the parliament in JR’s Kotte parliament? Who are the real frogs and toads in the puddle of mud that is fast becoming a cess-pit if one was to go by what one reads from most of the faceless and identity less ones on this websites?

    • 3
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      You may be right. But may be the american are used to use “EVITERNAL” than eternal. Immediately I read the article, I checked it in the dictionary, because Eternal and Eternity are common to our vocabulary.

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      Spenser @,
      you say you did not, but thousands or more will surely read – no doubt. Jagath’s style of writing is unique to him. That many of us like.

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        he is your nemisis

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          what an idiot, seems to know nothing else but to be malicious and jealous.
          Your kind of lanken are plenty.
          But the writer´s kind are not many. This article is a great one to many. That you everyone is clear when reading all these positive comments.

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            Skunk you have been hit by a truck??

            Run till you get a stitch beggar boy.

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      Spencer is perfectly right.
      ____
      Jughead is another DJ type Poof professor conman.We get these in the west.
      _____
      I asked him the day he boasted of his knowledge of English what he was doing as an American citizen when the PM D.B Wijetunge used foul speech at Hillary Clinton.
      Typical Burro `Gamaya` playing gamyate magic with some sudu pukka offshoot and trying to tell us about his new stolen glory.

      Have any of you seen his son or is he another pedo tatte motte accomplis??

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        man, are sane ?

        Praise where praise is due
        – I know some of you guys in Sl cant feel it in that way.. That has lot to do with your psychology than anything else.

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          Go learn your Latin then you would appreciate as to why French is sweeter then even plain English.

          In his one before the last article he blew his trumpet praising himself as if he was the bard for 17 years. So I did ask him what he did when PM made derogatory to Hillary. He has hidden in his hammock.

          We have seen professors and doctors, lecturers and enough con-men- like the greatest salesman in the world and need not be taken for suckers by anyone living in SL or US.

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            I completely agree with leela saying idiots of your kind are born to distroy the folks. You just criticise as if you have the right to do so. And dare to say that you re but nothing.

            Quoting from your comment,”We have seen professors and doctors, lecturers “this proves almost everything about your mentality. The jealously and malice filled in those brains cant tolerate villagers becoming docs and highly educated personalities today. They are modayas/godayas or scum for them – anyway, many of these godayas are serving in the country as medical docs, Engineers and lecturers to them today. So Dr. Asoka has made it very clear that it is all about proper pronunciation. Besides, we should only focus on the current topic if we wanne to add comments. To my understanding,those who got their Uni education in abroad and are continuing to live in those countries are well aware of the problems related to the langagues.

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              #”|”with leela saying idiots of your kind “|”

              Suck my nuts!!

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        who are you to put him down in this way ?

        Why not you open your personal information before asking MORE about his. what have you achieved in your life ?
        As far as my knowledge is concerned, Jagath has been making genuine efforts by his writing apart from his research carrier at the Uni there.

        FYI,Many incl. me read his articles with great enthusiasm.

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          “|”what have you achieved in your life ?”|”

          The art of intelligence- living poor with a lot of money thereby everything needed comes to doorstep.

          I can what you have achieved poor sod living in a shithole!

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            just an empty vessel, not worth wasting to comment.

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              Ha ha a maggot with a bad attitude!!

              Poor sod pony and trap.

  • 5
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    Jagath you are spot on. I really appreciate your effort. Please spread this message to everyone. Especially the rural folks. Best wishes.

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      Yes, his point is clear. English is not panacea to all of our problems, but learning to pronounce correctly help listener to comprehend you better.

      • 1
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        “|”English is not panacea to all of our problems, “|”

        Ha ha you got a fuzzy pop top! hmmm.

  • 4
    2

    Jagath Asoka’s assessment is correct. English opens more doors than College Degrees in Sinhala & Tamil medium.

    While the Minister of Higher Education has taken meaningful steps, the Education Ministry is not having the required focus on English. The result is the high demand for International School Education and a reduction in the number of students attending the schools run by the Education Department.

    Focus on English Education is a necessity for the Hub Strategy of Sri Lanka.

  • 3
    2

    Lovely article, Doc. I think the percentage of those capable of speaking fluently is above 3%. It sure is not very high but you will be surprised. Even among the pensioners from the yesteryear there are those that articulate so well! We are an interesting country full of gems.. of course full of crap too but that is for another discourse :)

  • 2
    1

    Good, useful article.I am reminded of an incident many years ago. In those days I think ‘Rupavahini’had a morning programme where all three presenters Tamil,Sinhalese and English participated. I was a Guest on a ‘Thai Pongal’ day and Nadarajasivam,Ajita and an affable Sinhalese Professor(Whose name I can’t remember)were there. I asked Ajita before the Programme whether she acted in ‘Mother Courage’ directed by Mc Intire, and she said it was her mother. Any way,Richard de Soyza,Ajita,Sharmini were a different class. Melvin de Mello(I hope I got his name correctly) the Indian English Newscaster of those days, our own Tim Horshington of ‘Ponds Hit parade’ fame(When I went for an Interview to IAS I expected to see an Englishman but he was not)were a treat to hear and two of them to watch as well!Now I don’t watch or hear News in any language. in Sri Lanka for obvious reasons.

    English of course is still an International Language in spite of spanish. As students we used to read the editorials written by Reggie Michael, the then Editor of Daily Mirror. Mark all the difficult words, find their meanings from the Dictionary and make sentences with each one of those words to bring out their meaning and show it to our English Teacher.

    There was a dictionary by Penguin called ‘Penguin Diktionary’ (Dictionary). Although not 100% accurate it was easy to learn the pronunciation without diacritic. It may still be available in the Book shops. ‘Word Power’ in Readers Digest is another way to improve your vocabulary.

  • 2
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    Language is the means of communication between persons, communities and nations. Just imagine if we were deaf, dumb and could not communicate, we would be losing much of what is meaningful in life. People who remain silent, do not express themselves or are not receptive to what others say, lose the ability to emphathise and play their role in society. Dumb vegetables they may be, playing no part in the destiny of society and the nation.

    The freedom to express ones thoughts and feelings is important in the development of a vibrant society. The ability to express ones self is also dependent on ones mastery of language. The difference between a living language, like english, and dead one, like latin, is its usage. The more a language is used by scholars, artists and scientists, the more it develops, increasing in vocabulary, meaning and depth. The nuances and expressions available increase the ability to communicate. Society becomes all the richer by the use of language to communicate our experiences, thoughts and feelings.

    Truly reading maketh the man. Those days we read a lot. There was no TV or Internet to distract us. As a school boy, I was member of three libraries, School Library, Colombo Public Library and the British Council. In Primary school I read Richmal Crompton, Enid Blyton, Charles Hamilton, Aesops Fables etc.

    I remember I read some of the fattest books like ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘The Magus’, ‘For whom the bell tolls’ and ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ when I was studying for the O Levels. Also I read the autobioghraphies of Sri Jawarhalal Nehru, Field Marshal Rommel and Che Guvera. Such readings leave an indelible imprint on our characters and lives, an experience which is lost for the present generation of youth.

    “Reading maketh a full man; and writing an axact man. And, therefore, if a man write little, he need have a present wit; and if he read little, he need have much cunning to seem to know which he doth not.”

    ― Francis Bacon

  • 3
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    When we read of the need to regain our lost competence of the English language we cannot but remember how politics in the early 1950s was getting ready to destroy, not only the unity that, glued us together but also destroy the splendid quality of English for which we were known in the region. Reference has been made here of Tim Horshington, Jimmy Barucha and others who stood out when they spoke the Queen’s language. Even in Parliament in the pre-1970 period the OxCam accents spoken by men like Pieter Keuneman, JRJ, Stanley de Zoysa et al stood out.

    The English-speaking world admires and respects a good English speaker. Nowhere is this more appreciated than in the USA. Those actors and actresses from Britain, trained as they are in the British accent, enjoy a premium in Hollywood as we once again saw when “The King’s Speech” sweeping the board. Even today films in which British stars Jeremy Irons, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslett, Emma Thomposon and others feature always draw a crowd with a clear English-language bias. Visiting India for many decades, I find in the drawing rooms of the elitist homes in Metropolitan India foreigners from the region who speak good English are warmly welcome as regular guests for those discussions that embrace a wide variety of subjects that fill the long evenings.

    We destroyed our quality English, built over a century, purely for reasons of populist politics. The children of the very family identified with this change not only spoke English with finesse but were sent to the best schools both here and Europe to improve upon it.
    As to the children of the yakkos, at least who had a chance in the pre-1956 period to learn it and improve their employment prospects, they were then condemned to the “kaduwa” mentality forcing some of them to take to arms twice in the recent past.

    Fortunately, the advent of “International Schools” here produces some students. of better than average English from a few of these schools.
    The teaching and students of the language in State schools is generally poor. India, with all its faults, steadfastly clung to English despite assaults of nationalistic tendencies. Fortunately for them they have now come out, arguably, as the largest English-speaking nation in the world – with several of them winning global awards in English literature.

    Books and schools are not the only tools through which one learns the language. An enabling atmosphere at home, in school, in the company one keeps, the choice of reading, TV and the media – all play their part. Regaining our splendid English language standards will not only provide wider choices for the student. More crucially, it can also go far to serve the cause of reconciliation.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      The English-speaking world admires and respects a good English speaker. Nowhere is this more appreciated than in the USA………………………………………………….. Rubbish. The Americans admire people who are skilled, hard working and talented. Of course unless you can express yourself fluently in English, there is no way you can put your talents to use or develop them in USA. Being able to speak fluently is not the same as being able to speak “like” native speakers.

    • 1
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      Great comments. I always like to read yours :)

  • 0
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    The writer has paid his prime attention to pronunciation of English words.Those who have listened to the Chinese, the Arabs, the Africans and Indians know that English pronunciation of each of them is entirely different from that of British English.
    The pronunciation difference between American English and British English is vastly different.
    The Australians also do not pronounce as the British do.
    I believe people from country to country pronounce English differently.
    If we do not see anything wrong in American English and their pronunciations why should we worry so much about pronunciations?
    If one wants to master the British pronunciation he or she has to live in Britain for many years from his/her childhood.For that your mother has to be a British citizen.So it is an impossible thing for those who love to learn the British pronunciation.
    So why should we worry for not being able to pronounce English correctly?

    • 3
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      because english is not our native language. neither is it that of the chinese, the arabs or the africans. countries that use english as their actual mother-tongue can get away with differing pronunciations: we cant. also, what most sri lankans do is not so much ‘slightly different’ pronunciation than ‘strangely warped’: take, for example, the pronunciation of ‘bowl’ as ‘ball’, and ‘ball’ as ‘bowl’- someone speaking english of that type is going to have a tough time making themselves understood, since the rest of the world has no idea what sri lankan english sounds like- compare this to aussies and americans, whose pronunciations are known widely and understood to a far greater degree than ours. the whole point of using a language is to make yourself understood in it: im not saying you need to be word-perfect before you even open your mouth, but why use it if you’re not trying to improve yourself?

      secondly, your allegation that it is impossible to learn proper british (or american or australian etc) pronunciation without having being born in the uk? rubbish. anyone wanting to pick it up can do so- the reason a lot of people dont is because of this prevailing notion that somehow it’s better to pronounce the way they do already without becoming ‘boruwata posh’ that’ll get them mocked back in lanka: the fault is not the system, it’s the attitude. it’s either that or the person in question is well into the latter stage of life where they’re not interested in changing in their ways at all.

      • 1
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        Kp,

        You hit the nail on the head.

      • 2
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        You are dead right :)

        Kp@ those boruwata posh kind of people always feel that they are superior to others just because they speak English from the beginning on although continuing to speak broken sinhala. This syndrome is similar some to be over proud of being old royalists or St.brigetians (?). Some are just school drop outs but they argue with university qualified graduates. Can you imagine ? This has become worst than to a metastacized cancer to date. They are trying to be lanken kalu suddas but staying further as locals. They notice their stand when they live on the west only. Latter kind of lankens I have met in Europe. This complex almost kills the lanken society. As Jagath made it very clear those who believe to speak very good English also make mistakes in pronunciation. I think it should be made obligatory local school curriculums to add “Elocution lessions” as a part of the subject.

        • 0
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          Sounds like you are going to the dogs used elastoplast!!

    • 3
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      School teacher,

      `Journaling` is Microsoft English neither is it Standard English or Plain English. We don’t enter our diaries with pen and paper anymore.

      There is nothing to do with pronunciation. North Americans are a funny species they find it difficult to understand the rest of the world while the British find it easy to understand any form of pronunciation.
      This comes about because they are taught tolerance.

    • 1
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      Punchisingho,

      I think you have caught the wrong end of the stick and missed the point the writer is trying to make.

    • 1
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      why should we worry for not being able to pronounce English correctly?

      It is just simple. Nobody would not want to be misunderstood.

  • 2
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    Jagath – you are spot on! I guess we have SWRDB to thank for this problem in Sri Lanka, but even at this late stage our ‘Educators’ haven’t still figured it out for the unfortunate generations to come.

  • 2
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    This articel also brings some child hood memory for me. I was educated in one of the pretigious school in Jaffana, after primary schooling in Colombo, 1959 riots put paid to continuing our schoolin in Colomo.

    In Jaffna We were taught in very high clsss English but we chat among our friends of course in Tamil.

    When I returned to Colombo after few years , I noticed that the school friends chat among themselves in English. At first I was very impressed but quickly I relaised the most used words are like pater bugger machan, mater bugger machn and in between few broken up English words

    And you are right that broken English did open the doors to Cinema, to bars and hotels and Girls!

    I won the annual oratory competion!

    So I sympathise wiith the graduate from Kelaniya who cant speak broken Colombo English.

    Shamini – dont take offence you are an exception

  • 2
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    judging by the standard of English of the people who post here…not much has changed

  • 2
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    A good eye opener for the “frog in the well” people who thought that “Sinhala only” will open the doors for them!! The fools did not understand that this is a political stunt to win election!! (Bandarnayake was not prepared to wait too long for the Senanyakes to give in)

    The Sinhala Modayas up to now has not realised that the politicians who brought in the legislation were educating their children abroad in the English medium!! It is a different story that none of them made any mark in their academic achievement!! It could be due to the curse of the cheated masses!! I hope the sinhalese will realise now that Studying in the Sinhalese medium will not give them descent jobs nor will it give a broader outlook in life!! They have to get rid of the notion that Sri Lanka is a great Sinhala Budhist country and that they have 2500 year old civilisation!! They have to learn to analyse what the politicians say on the stage and take it with TONS OF SALT.

  • 1
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    For a sinhala person from a Sinhala ethnic group:

    YOu should be taught Sinhala and English.

    For Tamils and those who declare Tamil as their first language teach Tamil and English.

    We don’t need tri-lingual language policy. BUT a SIMPLE BI-LINGUAL POLICY.

    ENGLISH for the WORLD and Technology. AND First LANGUAGE for the HOME FRONT and cultural and Religious activities.

    Subjects like Mathematics , Science and technology along with some Ethics subjects MUST be taught in English. With relevant technical translations made available for those who want to talk about in the first language.

    This should be the language policy.

  • 2
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    I’m 100% in agreement with what Dr.Jagath Asoka has been writing about English etc. Almost all his observations are truisms beyond dispute. I wonder if he will consider the possibility of aiding English teachers at least in universities) in Sri Lanka by skype. No doubt English teachers back home will take advantage of professionals like Dr.Jagath Asoka from the Diaspora if facilitated by the authorities.

    Mani Velupillai

  • 3
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    Dr Asoka, you must be congratulated on your bravery to face all these indignities to give your family a better standard of living. You enthuse extensively on the delights of the American dream but it saddens me. You will NOT be missed in the U S of A; but here in the motherland you love so much (going by some of your missives) you could be doing so much more to raise the increasingly execrable standard of education. It is sad that we have gone down the road of holding up English as the solution to the our being unwilling to learn each others’ languages. Sinhalese children should learn Tamil and Tamil children should learn Sinhala. English, like French, German, Japanese, Chinese etc. should be studied by those with a particular need e.g. academics, business people with overseas interest etc. What is the logic of making it compulsory for all our Sri Lankan children to have learn a language that is alien to them? When will our Sri Lankans break out of this false mind set that English will solve all their shortcomings? The struggle against the barbarians in our midst gets harder the longer our educated and capable leave to prop up the ageing communities of other countries.

  • 2
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    Aiyyo. suddenly it had become english as bashing ground for the problems in Sri Lanka. I know so many engineers who are 100% educated in sinhala and then when entered to university and come out as good engineers who fluently express themselves in english.

    Our engineering and science faculties in university teaches in english and by the time they finsh their degree they are good in english who can challenge any Asian counterparts in technically expressing themselves in english.

    Asoka is finding some ghost to fight himself. -:)

    • 1
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      You dont need to even read what Asoka points out in his article, just do some check for yourself… to get the updates who is right in terms of the levels of English knowledge of the majority of Graduates completed their degrees at local Unis (btw, incl. Engineering ones).

      • 1
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        “|”but learning to pronounce correctly help listener to comprehend”|”
        “|”local Unis (btw, incl. Engineering ones”|”

        “☻/
        /▌
        / \
        During WW2 the voice of Great Britain was Sir Winston Churchill and he was

        never good at school do you Comprehenday Bitch.

        It has nothing to do with Engineering but the self confidence that is lacking due to a shortened course of 3 yrs rather than 5 years. The Brits the land of associations adds another 2 to build that all illusive confidence building,Comprende? : You Understand?

        (^‿◕) (@_@) (^o^)

  • 1
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    Jagath,

    I use Merriam Webster (m-w.com). Isn’t that the standard for American English?

    I agree with you that many Sri Lankans who ridicule fellow Lankans’ accents hardly speak correctly themselves.

    We can all try to improve, but I doubt those of us who migrated here in our twenties or thirties will ever be able to fully unlearn what we had internalized back in Sri Lanka over a few decades. It is even harder to get the names of people and places from so many different countries right. I still hear fellow Lankans who have lived in the US for several decades pronouncing ‘Einstein’ wrongly.

    • 1
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      Agnos,Americans,British and French pronounce Wickramage as
      Wickramaj.Gnanam is pronounced as Ganam.Gnanam becomes
      ganam is killing the real name and can we blame English for
      that?Most of the time all of us pronounce the names of other
      cultures wrongly due to absence of sounds of some letters in
      alphabets.

      • 1
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        Whywhy,

        What you say may be true, but the fact remains that it is the Sri Lankans who are a tiny minority of immigrants in the West, trying to establish themselves as citizens.

        The burden is on us to improve as much as possible so that people don’t tune out when we speak. We are the ones who should be worried about being taken seriously and not being able to rise up the career ladder because of a lack of communication skills.

        Of course there comes a point beyond which it is not possible to improve while we have to focus on our daily lives. We then have to develop coping mechanisms against embarrassment. In my case, as an agnostic/atheist, I bring up my arguments about misguided religious beliefs of some American scientists who should know better, and it is they who are embarrassed. In my mind, not being able to follow a certain group’s way of speaking is far less egregious an error for a scientist or engineer than following religions that lack internal coherence and have plenty of contradictions.

        If you are a believer, you will have to find your own coping mechanism, and what you say above may provide an angle for you. But at the end of the day, don’t forget that if we seek to be more accepted and respected, we are the ones who need to improve.

  • 2
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    It is good to polish up or fine tune one’s skill in any language be it English or any other. It is just like polishing up one’s skill in music or any other fine art. But should we be over emphatic about it? After all, a language is only a medium of expression, an instrument for communication. What is most important is to make one’s expression intelligible to the listener. Don’t we see in this modern world English spoken with a myriad of accents and yet remaining useful.

    The attitude of some of us placing English on a special pedestal is nothing but a colonial hang over. It is this outdated outlook that leads some to despise those who speak English with a poor accent or bad pronunciation. We should throw that bad habit overboard. Certainly, we should have more English and better English as that will definitely open wider horizons to knowledge. But that need not make us mad of making a perfection of the command of that language. It is just another language, however popular or useful and let us treat it so!

    Sengodan. M

  • 2
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    My humble opinion is that grammar should come first, I.e. The speaker should know what he is speaking. Then he can work on the pronunciation. People will respect you if you handle the language well. If you happen to watch Indian news readers (specially NDTV or CNBC India) there grammar is perfect but the pronunciation is pathetic.

    • 2
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      what grammer Singaporeans, Malaysians, Japanese, South Koreans cared.
      Yet our english educated sri lankans stay in queue to learn Korean language to find meagre jobs in Korea.

      What matters is not english or any language but how smart you use your brains.

      • 0
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        Sumith ,

        ” what grammer Singaporeans, Malaysians, Japanese, South Koreans cared.”

        i have doubts about your self proclaimed (I am head of multi national engineering company in East Asia.)titles .Actually , how many Singaporeans and Malaysians have you met ? how many of them don’t use the grammatically correct English ? i’m curious !

    • 1
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      The message of his article is that better you learn to pronounce it will be comfortable for you feel better…
      Quoted from above:

      “Have you ever been in a situation where others could not understand what you had said because of the way you pronounced a particular word or a phrase? For the last 26 years, I have been in many situations where I had to paraphrase to avoid confusion due to my beastly mispronunciations. As recently as last week.. “

      This is common to other languages too. If one would speak sinhalese with accents, how many of us try to look down it upon. Minority folks being unable to converse sinhala but living in the country may know about the difficulties that they face.

      • 0
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        Phew! there is an awful smell around here is it you?? Gooo`ta.

  • 2
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    ” I have never met a foreigner—British, Americans, Canadians, etc— who would denigrate, mock, or ridicule you for speaking broken English or for mispronouncing words; but they are a dime a dozen in Sri Lanka. Here is a fact: Even the elite Sri Lankans and those who are very fluent in English do not know how to pronounce properly. “

    This is one of the inherent problems of South Asians in general; they try to denigrate their fellow South Asians to make themselves appear superior. — Same small minded attitudes exsist when discussing one’s profession; South Asians judge people by their profession and sneer at working class professions as inferior.

    • 1
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      best example we have now on this thread itself – Javi, just an another nitwit

      • 1
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        Trailer trash you never used crust?? viper that nose fuckshit.

      • 0
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        Trailer trash you never used crust??

        viper that nose raspberry tart..

    • 0
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      Very true….the Colombo elites use English as part of their identity….thus, they put greater weight for English…..

  • 1
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    Thank you Dr. Asoka; I will always remember this article. It will change my life ..

    • 1
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      It’s just another subject at school, Ass Licking Shit Goblin, or is it that the sinhalese are bengali fish smelling, malodorous kapilavastuvas, that have been discarded by the Chinese??

      • 1
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        Javi@,
        best place for you would be mulleriyawa.
        Perhaps that can help us all feel better atleast in 2014.

        • 0
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          [Edited out]

          • 0
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            “|”best place for you would be mulleriyawa.”|”

            never mind that, you Bengali fish smelling Sinhalese stink to high heavens.Phew!!!

  • 1
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    learning English is a very important thing. Having a robust english language education is again crucial. Learning English would open a lot of avenues for many people.

    But it is pointless to strive hard and learn a British english with the way native English speakers speak it. Now what we have in the world is neutral english to make listeners understand it very well. It is humorous how Sri Lankan or SL born fellows try hard to imitate native english speakers. It is their accent not ours.

    As we have a different native language, we will always speak english with our accent. whenever i hear some one speak English with a SL accent i am happy. YOu people have to wake up from this colonial slave mindset.

    I went to a sinhala school, spoke sinhala at home and we some how learnt English that has helped us to find good employment. That is the case for many people I know.

    I agree with the writer on the importance of learning English but not on striving hard for a british accent. And the comment section is filled with colonial pandithayas and their arguments are funny

    • 2
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      “|” English but not on striving hard for a british accent.”|”
      ________
      You’re getting on my wick! ;I can smell a raspberry. Phew!

      Perhaps that’s the accent that you have heard not the educated who have almost no accent. Pity you have not travelled enough to appreciate other cultures whatever they may be. Remember, Rabindranath Tagore of Calcutta won a Nobel Price for English Literature.

      Back in the late 70’s there was a discussion at Colombo camps if we should speak English the English way or SL way- Happily it was the simple honest way.

      Enlighten yourself first sinhala medium fellow there are others who study 3/4 languages simultaneously and they fair well culturally!

      • 2
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        I am a well travelled person you need nt tell me to do so. Tell me did Thagore speak in a British accent? and please improve your english it hardly make sense.

        • 3
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          “|”and please improve your english it hardly make sense.

          Heard of Wendy the first, then Whatmore who won the cup like Alex does for football. WTF have you won gamaya modaya??

          Moron shows how widely you have travelled as a tourist looking up at the sky as if it’s going to fall like the stinking new rich, because your pop never knew latin or greek either.
          Suwabasha, like the kolamba malasnaya of today!!

          Tagore did not work for the radio station or a BBC. You seem to generally speak from your posterior where your cell-brains are, I suppose so. perhaps, that’s why we call the schedule class.

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            You are just an idiot kicked out of a post independant lanka in its nationalist drive. I feel for you.The irony is you cant even use the English language to make a point. I understand always why you throw insults, that is because you cant make a point. It must be very mentaly tormenting to not being able to give his.her opinion. right? You must be a case study for mental health research. How overdose of colonial slave mindset with lack of English Knowledge can do to a man.

            Between idiot, Tagore won nobel prize for his literature, not for a british accent. No one here is undermining the importance of English language learning, but it is useless to strive hard to speak in a native british accent. because you are not british.

            • 1
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              You are dead right :) I agree with you Every word you added in terms of the sick person

              • 1
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                This is refering the comments of SACH:

            • 0
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              You are drowning in DUNG. LOL!! Open your mouth and SWALLOW. Death will be a lot faster that way.
              Quest for CUM,

              Oiiinnnnkkkkk!!!Oiiinnnnkkkkk!!!Oiiinnnnkkkkk!!!Oiiinnnnkkkkk!!! LOL!!

          • 1
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            Eunuchs and transgender of your category who struggle constantly being desperate are a great threat to the CT readership and lanken civil society.
            Hopefully these will help you and the absurd to be respectful and get respect from others and be serious about our Code of Conduct.

            • 0
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              Is Javi a Transgender ? Really ? OIC this is the reason why he behaves as if he is a sick person. ::: NOW ONLY I can see that… YES most transe are like that.. grins.

  • 1
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    Ayyo Sumith, are you an engineer who became a waiter because you could not speak proper English?

    • 1
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      Estudiante, Cobbler’s Awls!! Reading maketh a man! (^‿◕)

      10 times Box office:still the most successful film in box-office history.On the eve of the American Civil War in 1861, Scarlett O’Hara lives at Tara,
      -“Gone with the Wind”

      Read 5 greats like this and you become your own master, the sky is the limit.

      Jughead has no humor for us up to now and that is not wise.

      watch read: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mM8iNarcRc

    • 3
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      Eshanthi,

      I am head of multi national engineering company in East Asia.
      I have hired many Sri Lankan engineers here. They are much more capable in technical area than engineers that I can hire from locally or in other part of Asia. They can write better technical reports in english.

      That’s what I saying Asoka is fighting a ghost that he had created.

      • 3
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        Sumith ,

        (1)”I am head of multi national engineering company in East Asia.”

        (2) ” That’s what I saying Asoka is fighting a ghost that he had created. “

        pl note , before you take on Dr jagath , your grammar needs urgent attention , the above two statements should have been written as

        (1) I am THE head of A multi national engineering company in East Asia. ( THE, A)

        and

        (2) ” That’s what I AM saying Asoka is fighting a ghost that he HAS created. ” (AM, HAS)

        • 1
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          and to correct yours:
          Quoted from yours:

          (2) ” That’s what I AM saying Asoka is fighting a ghost that he HAS created. ” (AM, HAS)

          Corrected as:

          That ´s why I am saying Asoka is fighting a ghost that he has created.

          • 1
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            Siripala ,

            please note , my attempt was to highlight the most appropriate Auxiliary verbs for the sentence no (2) and suitable articles for the sentence (1) and to keep the original sentence intact.

  • 1
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    I don’t understand the point made here by this writer about
    the importance of learning English.There are now
    International schools as far as one hundred miles away from
    the capital Colombo.Before seventies there were private
    schools run by missionaries for boys and girls within almost
    every district.SLFP led govts abolished those schools and JRJ
    started Internationals from eighties.English is now being
    recognized all over the country not because of its linguistic
    value but because of the social acceptance as a “status”.What
    I have seen shockingly is that majority of people in all three
    main communities don’t speak their mother tongue fluently!Many
    degree holders don’t have common sense to understand even a
    simple difficulty.Far back in eighties,I met a double degree
    holder plus a high ranking public officer who was trying to get
    a taxi driving job in a European country without knowing a
    single word of that country language!Super idiots coming out of
    our universities.Not like the products of my time.Nothing should
    be forced on anyone and nothing should be overwhelmingly
    encouraged either.My advice is FIRST OF ALL IF YOU ARE NOT AN
    ENGLISH SPEAKER,BEFORE STARTING ON A FOREIGN LANGUAGE,LEARN TO
    THINK AND SPEAK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE WITH PERFECTION.IN THE CASE OF
    A KID,HE CAN START IN ANY LANGUAGE.IF YOU WANT ENGLISH,THEN
    REMEMBER THAT IT IS NOT ONLY A LANGUAGE BUT ALSO A CULTURE.YOU
    NEVER SUCCEED IN THINKING IN ONE LANGUAGE SPEAKING IN ANOTHER.
    THIS IS WHAT WE CALL “SINGLISH” LIKE “WHY DIS KOLAVERY DI.”

  • 2
    1

    Well said Dr. Jagath Asoka.

    Proper usage of any language is very important. More so with English as it’s a universal language today.

    Unfortunately, most don’t grant ‘language’ its due respect. For them, being understood, is the sole purpose of a language. The art, romance and beauty of a language written and spoken well, is lost on such people.

    Perhaps today, only a few like Ajita Kadirgamar and Sharmini Serasinghe, who as professional broadcasters, have mastered the English language to near perfection, will understand the value of language.

    Alas, Ajita and Sharmini may be the last generation of Sri Lankan broadcasters of their caliber.

    • 2
      0

      Goofy, have you not heard of the favourite Sri Lankan pastime of cutting down the ‘Tall Poppies’? This is what is happening to the likes of Sharmini and Ajitha.

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