Sunday, 14 February 2016

Meet the Dias Family

Brian  Mendonça

The Dias family was fondly remembered at a recent seminar I attended outside Goa. There were several announcements like ‘Seated on the Dias is the chief guest . . . .’; ‘Please take your seats on the Dias’ and ‘On the Dias we have . . .’ I wonder if the audience appreciated the fond allusions to the Dias family -- particularly since they had no reason to be there.

‘Dias’ is a mispronunciation of ‘dais’. Phonetically it is represented as /deiis/. In the phonetic transcription each symbol stands for a predetermined sound.

For example, ‘Say’ is represented as /sei/. This is a vowel guide where the two vowels ‘e’ and ‘i’ combine to form a diphthong. This is the British pronunciation as noted by reputed dictionaries.
When many people pronounce the word wrongly it assumes a legitimacy which is misplaced. When both students as well as professors dash off ‘Dias,’ when it should be ‘Dais’ there’s not much hope left. Of course, many of this group are using English as a second language and need to be corrected tactfully.

Nietzche the German philosopher was also recalled at the same seminar. The word was ‘niche,’ conveniently divided into two parts ‘nee-shay’. Niche is actually pronounced as /ni:f/ i.e. ‘neesh’ as in ‘niche marketing.’

Malapropism is another common speech error. In this speech act a word is replaced by a similar sounding word with often hilarious effects  At a funeral service the ‘eulogy’, i.e. words in praise of someone, was referred to as ‘urology’ which is the study of the male and female urinary tract.
Students often use ‘bitch’ when they mean ‘beach.’ A shortening or lengthening of a vowel can change the meaning of a word. ‘Bowel’ is often used to mean ‘bowl.’

The other day at Mass the priest was going on and on about my cousin Eliza. I wondered what all the fuss was about. Later it dawned on me he was explaining the reading which told of the exploits of the prophet Elijah.

A naughty email going around offers an alternative for the Heimlich manoeuvre as ‘Hind Lick Manoeuvre’. The Heimlich manoeuvre is a series of abdominal thrusts to save a person who is choking. It was discovered by Dr. Henry Heimlich in 1974.

Travelling in a car lately, the driver was barking into his phone ‘Flat ka time ho gaya,’ ‘Flat ka time ho gaya.’ We later deduced it was meant to be ‘Flight ka time ho gaya.

Children often mispronounce words in their attempt to learn new words. ‘Congatularations’ says my son very excitedly. Sometime earlier when he used to imitate us making the sign of the cross, his words seemed to sound like, ‘In the name of the father, son and fire the Holy spirit.’

Attempts to speak English, however questionable they may be, are to be lauded. It is only when we actually use language that we can master it. Let’s get acquainted with the other members of the Dias family!
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Gaoa on 7 February 2016. 

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