BITS and Pieces

Get global. Get ahead.

Are we giving or taking?

Why do we Indians love to give things that we should actually be taking and then sometimes take things that we should be giving? Where and how do we manage to pick up incorrect uses of verb-noun colocations and what can we do to avoid it

In India, “I will soon be giving my French paper” is used in the sense of ‘I have a French exam coming up sometime soon,’ whereas to the British it would mean ‘you are going to administer or conduct a French test for your students.’

Similarly, in India, “I take French tuition” is used in the sense of ‘I teach French’ whereas to the British, it would mean ‘you are learning French.’

A little probing will tell you that most of our mistakes, as far as English is concerned, happen because, at times, we tend to translate from any of the Indian languages we speak. In Marathi, for example, as with some other Indian languages, you take tuitions (tuition घेणे {Hindi – लेना}) and give papers (paper देणे {Hindi – देना.})

The easiest way to improve your English, no matter how good it already is, is to constantly check whether you are speaking it the way it is spoken by native speakers and ensure you are not translating from one of the Indian languages you speak.

And by the way, ‘tuition’ is an uncountable noun and should not be used in the plural (tuitions), which is again something we tend to do in Indian English.

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Sandeep Nulkar - Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar started his career as a translator way back in 1993 and heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies – BITS Private Limited. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to create an identity for the Indian translator within and outside India.