Know Your English Education

A responsibility, indeed

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“Did you get caught in the heavy downpour last night?”

“Unfortunately, I did. It rained so hard that I hardly could see the road. I stopped for a while under a tree. By the time it stopped raining, the roads were flooded.”

“Stopping was a sensible thing to do. By the way, it’s not ‘I hardly could see’, but ‘I could hardly see the road’. When you use ‘hardly’ in the middle of a sentence, it should come before the main verb. For example, Devi was so tired, he could hardly stand.”

“How about this example? I was sitting right next to Joy and Dinesh. But they were speaking so softly that I could hardly hear them.”

“Maybe it was a secret that they didn’t want to share with you! We had hardly batted for five overs when it began to pour. The game had to be called off.”

“You’d have needed a boat to play in yesterday’s weather.”

“That’s true! How’s your cousin Remya doing? Does she like her new job?”

“She called up yesterday to say that she is coming here on work next week. Said that she loves the new job — but hasn’t been sleeping well because of all the responsibilities.”

“You know what they say. ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’. I’m sure she’ll...”

“Crown? What crown? What are you talking about?”

“A king usually wears a crown, doesn’t he? Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown is a line from Shakespeare’s Henry IV. What it means is that someone with a great deal of responsibility — like a king, for example — is constantly worried about the things he has to do, and therefore seldom sleeps well.”

“As Peter Parker’s uncle says in the Spiderman movie, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. The more responsibility, the more worries.”

“Exactly! Kishore says that he hasn’t been sleeping well after having been promoted to Dean. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, I guess.”

“When Mahesh was offered the CEO’s post, he turned it down. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, he said.”

“Didn’t the company apply pressure on him to accept the post?”

Cowed into

“You know Mahesh. He refused to be cowed into doing anything he didn’t want to.”

“Cowed into doing something? Does it mean bullied into doing something?”

“I guess you could say that. When you ‘cow someone into doing something’, you frighten them into doing it. You intimidate them or threaten them. For example, the students refused to be cowed into accepting the new dress code proposed by the management.”

“Unlike Mahesh, my cousin Ganesh was cowed into accepting a position he wasn’t really interested in.”

“That is life! We are all cowed into doing things we don’t really want to.”

“Tell me, how is the word c..i..a..o pronounced?”

“It’s pronounced like the word ‘chow’. The ‘c’ sounds like the ‘ch’ in ‘chips’ and ‘cheese’ and the ‘iao’ sounds like the ‘ow’ in ‘how and ‘cow’.

“I see. I came across the word in a novel that I’m reading. What does it mean?”

“It’s an informal way of saying good bye.”

“In that case, I’d better go, then. Ciao.”

“Ciao!”

* * * * *

90% of men kiss their wife goodbye when they leave the house. 10% kiss their house goodbye when they leave their wife. — Anonymous

The author teaches at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. upendrankye@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 11:28:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/a-responsibility-indeed/article22917153.ece

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