OTHERS

Know Your English

``HAVEN'T SEEN you for a while. Where have you been?''

``It's been so hot. I don't step out of the house till 6:00 in the evening.''

``Yes, the weather has been terrible, hasn't it? How about having dinner with me at the new restaurant tonight?''

``No, thanks. I went there with some of my friends yesterday. I had a bowl of soup and some noodles. It was really expensive.''

``I see. By the way, the `ow' in `b..o..w..l' is pronounced like .....''

``....I know, I know. It's pronounced like the `ow' in `owl', `fowl', and....''

``....no, it isn't. The `ow' rhymes with the `o' in words like `gold', `bold' and `old'.''

``Really? That's interesting. Since we are talking about pronunciation, how is `s..e..w' pronounced? I have heard people pronouncing it differently.''

``It's pronounced like the word `so'.''

``But I have heard a lot of people pronouncing the `ew' like the `oo' in `fool', `cool', and `pool'.''

``I know! But the word is pronounced the same way as `so'.''

``If `s..e..w' is pronounced like the word `so', then how is `s..o..w' pronounced?''

``It depends on which word you are talking about?''

``What do you mean which word? I am talking about the planting of seeds. You know what the farmers do.....''

``....oh that `sow'. It's pronounced like `s..e..w' and `s..o'.''

``So you have three words which are pronounced the same way! `S...o', `s...e...w', and `s...o...w' are pronounced exactly alike.''

``Not always. You see a female pig is also spelt s..o..w. But the `ow', in this case, is pronounced like the `ow' in `how', `cow', and `now'.

``I see.''

``How is your father's case coming along? Do you think that old man Venkat is really going to help him win the case?''

``Venkat has promised us that he.....''

``....I wouldn't depend too much on him. Rumour has it that he is not a man of his word.''

``A `man of his word'! What does it mean?''

``It means someone who does what he/she promises to do. For example, my uncle is a man of his word.''

``I wish I could say the same thing about my uncle. Many of my classmates say that our Principal is not a man of his words. How does that sound?''

``The expression is a `man of his word'. You cannot say `man of his words'. It is wrong to do so.''

``I see. My principal is not a man of his word.''

``My boss isn't a man of his word either.''

``One cannot expect a politician to be a man of his word.''

``Are you saying that my boss is a politician?''

``No, no! I was just giving an example.''

``Tell me, why did your father go to Venkat of all people?''

``Some of my father's friends told him that Venkat is well versed with the rules and regulations of the....''

``....well versed in.''

``What?''

``You don't say `well versed with', but `well versed in'. Do you know what the expression `well versed in', means?''

``I think so. Doesn't it mean to know a lot about something?''

``That's right! When you are well versed in something, you know a great deal about a particular subject. It could also mean that you are good at doing something.''

``Can I say, the students are well versed in Indian history?''

``Sounds good to me. Manjula is well versed in the art of diplomacy.''

``Is she with the Foreign Service?''

``Oh, no! She is the person that the family members turn to whenever there is a problem.''

``My Principal goes around telling everyone that he is well versed in English literature. But he doesn't know a thing.''

``We are looking for someone who is well versed in automobile engineering.''

``I am looking for someone who is well versed in physics and chemistry.''

``Why?''

``I want him to write my exams for me!''

``The habitually punctual make all their mistakes right on time.'' - Laurence J Peter

S. UPENDRAN