Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Why is learning auxlangs a hobby?

A language is much more than beads of words tied together by the string of grammar. Earlier I used to think, I could learn any language if only I could get my hands on its grammar and a dictionary. I was naive. Because that's not how things work when it comes to languages. 

A language is like a jungle. A grammar, like a map, can give you a rough idea of what to expect when you are going inside. By the same analogy you can think of the dictionary of a language as a catalogue of all the plant and animal species in the jungle. Both are useful but never sufficient because there will always be surprises. You may suddenly come across a dilapidated track that's nowhere on the map. Or you may find new species that are yet to be catalogued. There is vegetation that you can smell, touch and taste but your grammar book doesn't explain how it came to be. And if you have come into the jungle of your own will, you think of all this as an exciting adventure.

An auxlang is also like a jungle, albeit a small one. Another difference lies in the fact that each tree is planted by hand and the tracks are carefully designed for a purpose. You won't find them leading to nowhere. This careful plantation takes out the surprise element. And because the whole forest is often the work of one man (or a team in some cases), these little forests are more like a garden when you compare them in size. Perhaps that's why learning auxlangs is 'a hobby', after all going to the Amazon isn't the same thing as going to the Baradari Gardens here in Patiala.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On Mainstream Media

Yesterday afternoon I got a telephone call from some Vxxxxr Singh of the Punjab Cyber Crime Cell, Mohali. He told me some Mxxxr Singh had filed a complaint against me and I needed to appear before them on Monday at 11:00 am. I know who Mxxxr Singh is. He is a former client. I worked for him once and he not only not paid me but also threated me. Angry, I created a blog where I wrote about the whole incident and mentioned his real name, his phone number and his website in the post. This enraged the guy. A couple of months ago, the police phoned me. I went there and I was not even allowed to speak. In the end, I had to sign an apology letter written by someone else. So when I got the call, it frightened me to death.

The police system is so corrupt here that we have a special term for people who are taken by the police for interrogation but never reappear or get killed in encounters (extra judicial killings). I don't think that they would treat me that bad. But again, who knows? This is India and here, as long as you have money, law doesn't apply to you. Anyways, that's not what I want to talk about right now. The purpose of this post is to show how media is only nominally free in many countries. 

When I am typing this sentence, there is a protest going on the Wall Street. Thousands of people there are protesting against the corrupt system. Strangely, there is no word about the incident on the Homepage of my favourite news website the BBC. I thought VoA could be doing a better job. To my surprise, there was no mention of the protest in which more than 10,000 people participated according to Democracy Now. Perhaps, some are better at pretending they have a free media.

Here are the screenshots of the Homepages of these three webistes on 9 October, 2011 (for future reference):

Democracy Now:

BBC (five top news stories): 

And here is the VoA:

I did that because a friend suggested me to go to media. I couldn't explain it to him that I'm no celebrity and media wants masala (sensational stories) and not true stories. It is the same story everywhere, I believe. Feeling bad but not disappointed.