BITS and Pieces

Get global. Get ahead.

No lights

So let’s get this one straight. Light can fade and an electric lamp might not function any longer but it isn’t really possible for either of them to physically go somewhere, like you know, walk or run away. In Indian English however, not only lights (whatever that means and I will come back to it a little later) but also electricity, it seems, can come and go. Free world I say.

“We don’t have lights today” or “There is no electricity. I will reply to your email as soon as lights come” are some of the creative ways you can be enthralled with if you are living in India.

The problem is, we have never heard a native speaker say the ‘real thing’ and sometimes our English doesn’t allow us to say it any better. So someone, somewhere comes up with these brilliant ways of being understood and before you know it is the norm. And so to be understood, you simply fall in line. Let us, however, clean up our act. Let us tell the world that apart from world class IT, we also deliver world class English. That should make them comfortable trusting us with their business.

Back to the electricity bit. Well, when you ‘don’t have electricity’ or when ‘lights have not yet come,’ there is simply a ‘power outage.’ Use that the next time your local Electricity Board fails you and care to explain if this usage is met with baffled or bemused looks from your interlocutor.

And yes, here is a little about the ‘light’ part of the story. ‘लाईट नही है’ might work in Hindi or in most Indian languages, but to the English, ‘lights’ doesn’t in any way mean ‘electricity.’ It simply means ‘decorative illuminations.’ Even the word ‘light’ primarily means ‘a source of illumination, especially an electric lamp.’

I hope I have been able to throw some light on this subject 🙂

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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.