Know Your English Education

Want to be lionised or remain a paper tiger?

“Why didn’t you come for the talk yesterday? It was really good.”

“Yes, my neighbour told me. I couldn’t make it because I was in the arms of Morpheus.”

“You were in Morpheus’ arms? Who is this person?”

“Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams. When you say you were in the...”

“In the arms of Morpheus, what you mean is that you were sound asleep.”

“That’s exactly what it means. Here’s an example. Could you please turn down the volume? The baby is in the arms of Morpheus.”

“I was really tired yesterday. I was in the arms of Morpheus by nine last night.”

“By the way, it is from the name Morpheus that we get the word ‘morphine’ — the drug that is given to patients when they’re in considerable pain.”

“I see. I didn’t expect so many people to turn up for the talk yesterday.”

The sports connect

“It’s not surprising that people did. After all, the speaker is a well-known cricket player. You know that in India most players are lionised.”

“Lionised? Does it mean to treat someone with respect?”

“That’s right! When you ‘lionise’ someone, you treat them with respect — perhaps, too much respect. You give them special treatment because you think they’re a celebrity. The party President was lionised by the local workers.”

“The General was lionised by all those who served under him.”

“Good example! So, tell me, who’s picking me up tomorrow morning?”

“She would be here by six tomorrow!”

“That’s not likely to happen. You know what they say, a leopard never changes its spots.”

“A leopard never changes its spots? What are you talking about?”

“When you say that ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ or ‘can’t change its spots’, what you are suggesting is that no matter how hard a person tries, he/she will not be able to change his/her true nature.”

“In other words, you are saying no matter how hard Vinita tries, she will continue to be lazy. She will always be late for everything.”

“Very good! Vinita cannot change who she is. The expression is mostly used with something negative. My cousin Govind says that he is going to stop taking bribes. But do you seriously think a leopard can change its spots?”

“The child promised her parents that she would stop lying. If you ask me, it is near impossible for a leopard to change its spots.”

“That’s a good example. It’s also possible to say, ‘a tiger doesn’t change its stripes’. For example, I don’t believe Malathi when she says that she doesn’t shout at her servant anymore. A tiger doesn’t change its stripes.”

“While we are on the subject of tigers, what does ‘paper tiger’ mean?”

“The term can be used with things and people. When you refer to someone as a ‘paper tiger’, what you are suggesting is that the person looks or appears to be strong or powerful. But he is, in fact, very weak.”

“In other words, he looks like he’s the person in charge. In truth, he has no power at all.”

“Exactly! For a very long time, our batsmen were paper tigers. They used to score a lot of runs in India, but when they went abroad, they failed miserably.”

“Some of the new anti-smoking laws introduced by the Government are nothing more than paper tigers. People who smoke in public places are seldom punished.”

“That’s true.”

************

Better to live one year as a tiger, than a hundred as a sheep. Madonna

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

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:37:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/want-to-be-lionised-or-remain-a-paper-tiger/article29307562.ece

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