Corporate Culture

International Mother Language Day: 5 Comedy of Errors with Words

by ABFRLadmin | February 21, 2023

With 22 official languages, and countless dialects, India is truly diverse on many levels. When we look inside, ABFRL operates in 900+ cities and our employees speak in different mother tongues even in the same state! Most of us, as a result, are at least bilingual and polylingual in the country. The beauty of this is, at time it results in some embarrassing and mostly hilarious misunderstandings. Here are 5 common incidents which can happen just because of our choice of words.

1. When words remain the same but meanings change

Many a times, words that sound similar may have less than desirable meanings in another language. For instance, dabba in Hindi would mean a box, while the same in Kannada means unintelligent or useless, in the same way as chumma in Hindi would mean a peck, while in Tamil it is a common phrase that means just like that. In a similar vein, Boka in Marathi would mean a male cat, while in Bengali and Odia, it means fool. This is just a tip of the iceberg! There are several words that may mean something beautiful in one language and take things absolutely south in another.

2. When you are stuck in a group of alien-sounding words

It is common for people to bond by mother tongue. No matter where you are from or where you live, you find comfort even in strangers who speak the same language as you. However, especially when at work, it is easy to feel left out, when people start talking strategies that you cannot contribute to! At times like this, remember to not feel shy, politely interrupt and make yourself included in the conversation.

3. When you get an explanation of your own mother tongue

Many times, it is difficult to gauge a persons mother tongue with just a last name or appearances. As people mingle in their own circles, sometimes, they assume or realize that some new in the group may have difficulty understanding conversations. This may be due to lack of context, but they still, out of mindfulness, take the pains to explain to you everything you already understood. In such a situation, thank them for their thoughtful gesture, and inform them that you dont need assistance to comprehend your dominant language.

4. The curious case of translations

The new phenomenon of remaking regional films into mainstream cinema has resulted in renewed interest in local languages. Who can forget how everyone wanted to know what kolaveri, chul, or even Pasoori meant? This has been a welcome change, and acts as an ice breaker for many. As more rare and local words become prominent, it is just a matter of time when we forge new relationship just to understand what these mean!

5. When Actions speak louder than words

While its an asset to be multilingual, there are many situations, where you realize the person you are communicating with doesnt know any of the languages you speak! Here, if you dont have an able translator, chances are you will have to use actions to convey your message and get the correct information. Now, that is game of dumb charades that you have to win!

 As you migrate for work, or leisure through this beautiful country, take time out to appreciate the beauty of the language and respect and celebrate the diversity. While you are at it, shopping in our  brand shops would be the perfect icing on the cake!

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