Education

Did you pass out yet?

Know your English

Know your English | Photo Credit: Sonya_illustration

“Looks like your favourite singer’s latest song has become an enormous hit.”

“It certainly has. Everyone is humming it. In my case, I keep hearing it in my head all the time.”

“I know what you mean. Quite a few of my friends are saying the same thing. For them, the song has become an earworm.”

“What are you talking about? I’ve heard of tapeworms and ringworms, but I’ve never heard of earworms. Tell me, how can a song become a worm?”

“There are occasions when after listening to a song, you find that it keeps playing in your head all the time. No matter how hard you try to stop this from happening, you don’t succeed.”

“It’s happened to me many times. It’s like the song is stuck inside my head.”

“Exactly! And it needn’t be the entire song, either. It could be just a couple of lines from the song or just the tune.”

“And sometimes, you sing aloud those two lines over and over again.”

“And irritate the person sitting or standing next to you! Anyway, this song or tune that keeps playing inside your head is called an earworm. We have all experienced this sometime or the other. Here’s an example. My friend, Harini, is often plagued by earworms.”

“T he first time I heard the jingle on TV, I hated it. But a few days later, it became an earworm. How does that sound?”

“That’s a good example. The word can be used as a verb as well. The jingle has earwormed its way into people’s head.”

“When that happens, you know that the ad campaign has been successful.”

“True. How are you enjoying your time with your cousin from the States? This is his first visit to India, right?”

“Yes, it’s Ravi’s first visit to India. The good thing is, he’s a great deal of fun. On the whole, we’ve been having a really good time. But every now and then, he laughs at the things I say. For example, when we were talking about our schooling, I told him that I passed out in 2014. He laughed. So, I asked him what there was to laugh about, and he…”

“That use of ‘pass out’ is peculiarly Indian. In India, it’s common to hear people say, ‘I passed out in 2003 or 2010’ to mean that they completed their schooling or their BA in a particular year. But a native speaker of English would understand the sentence to mean ‘I fainted in 2003 or 2010’.”

“So ‘pass out’ means ‘to faint’?”

“That’s one of the meanings of the expression. For example, Rohit passed out after playing in the hot sun for several hours.”

“How about this example? The children nearly passed out when they saw all that blood.

“Sounds good. But native speakers don’t say, ‘I passed out of college in 2013’.”

“What do they say then?”

“They normally use the word ‘graduate’. I graduated from college in 2013. It’s also very common to hear them say ‘complete’ or ‘finished’. I completed my schooling in 2003.”

“Graduate, complete, finish, pass out…how does it matter?”

“In India, you can use any one of these.”

I don’t know anything about music. In my line of work, you don’t have to

-Elvis Presley

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2022 7:18:30 am | https://www.thehindu.com/education/did-you-pass-out-yet/article65496865.ece