The ‘Sh’ Factor

Outside the Delhi railway station, I asked the Auto driver if he will go to Salimar Garden and his face glowed with a smile. Once inside the auto, brother told me it is Shalimar, not salimar. “But I said the same”, I defended.

This was my first day in Delhi and my tongue was hardly able to appreciate the difference between ‘S’ and ‘Sh’, thanks to the years of living in Bihar, a state best known for its rustic ways, popularised by its rustic ambassador, Laloo Yadav.

Delhi had separate tongue twisters for the different ‘Ss’ though. There was a regular S for words like school. Then there was an Sh for Shabd and Shubh. Also Delhites could rightly pronounce Shatkon, which is another S with a variation.

And that too without any formal training in pronounciation. Even we had all those variations of S when we studied the Devanagri script. But never did we learn to use them in our usual conversations.

This was paying off now. I was a laughing stock each time I told the DTC bus driver to stop at Salimar Garden. Once he told me not to maro so many sali (wife’s sister).

I have to do something with my pronounciation – I decided – like several thousand biharis who come to this place – only to make things worse.

Several days spent in twisting my tongue with the tongue twister : she sells sea shells on the sea shore. Irritated my brothers in the process. The end result was Shamoshe…ha ha.

In the end I gave up trying to improve my tongue, or rather using the different Ss at the right places.

However, other transitions were not as painful.

I quickly took up ‘main’ than ‘hum’ used at my place.

So “Hum ja rahe hain” quickly became “Main ja raha hun”. And in a bihari group, I could easily transition into the original version.

Thankfully I didn’t falter here like one of the jokes where a Bihari says “Hum hoon na” instead of “Main Hun Na”.

So proud had I been about my pronounciation – winning at least one elocution contest. The impression was shattered now. I used to make fun of Bengalis who would stretch words like forwaaard and backwaaard. Each time the Gurkha watchman would greet father with a “Shab ji”, I couldn’t help laughing (Unlike biharis who can’t pronounce the ‘Sh’, Gurkhas only have ‘Sh’ in their script). I would bully a Tamil guy almost everyday with ‘ille ille pon’. Also I laughed at a sardar boy for telling ‘sakool’ instead of ‘school’.

Now was my turn.

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9 thoughts on “The ‘Sh’ Factor

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  3. Ha Ha Ha… For how long are you in Delhi now ?

    The end result was Shamoshe…ha ha.
    But I heard Biharis always say like that. ‘S’ for “sh’ and ‘Sh’ for ‘s’ like Shamshya not samasya etc.

    Glad that you made fun of yourself. Not many Biharis can do it. They don’t even admit pronouncing differently.

  4. ab kya karen. this is not what u can hide na.

    u r very right. the more one tries to improve this, the worse they become…like the shamosha thing. and of course the shamashya (thanks for pointing that out)

    it has been over 7 years now. lekin kya karen. also i don’t find it any wrong to show my native accent.

    • to be an entertainer requires wisdom. so while we can laugh on lalu’s antics, we also will have to agree to it that he is one of the wisest of all politicians. btw i liked ur blog. will keep in mind to visit it often. thanks for dropping by my blog.

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