A civil language

Play a while

There has been talk of picking out an IWOTY or Indian Word of the Year or even creating one. Words like ‘ghotala’, ‘mango man’, ‘scamayana’, ‘hacktivist and ‘jugaad’. Think up your own list and who knows, your word could represent India one day! If you want one like ‘McAlooTikkification,’ you could create ‘paneergreenchillipizzamania’ or ‘AnnaHazarefied’!

Learn a little

Whenever people are asked to introduce themselves, normally it is a rare person who can make a good impression. This is especially true of youngsters. So, this is a set of special tips for them when they need to introduce themselves: one, they should not begin with ‘myself Arun Kumar’ but ‘I am or my name is`85’, two, the name should be articulated loud and clear and three, unless specifically asked, leave your family out of it. If you want to mention your education/hobbies/ interests, make sure they are geared to the occasion.

Intriguing words

Since ‘civil society’ is the flavour of the month, the word ‘civil’ deserves a closer look. ‘Civil’ comes from the Latin ‘civis’ or ‘citizen’ and ‘society’ is from the Latin ‘socius’ or ‘companion’. ‘Civil’ is used as a prefix to many words such as ‘civil law’ but ‘civil society’ is not part of that list of more than 12 blends. Up to the 18th century, civil society was used to distinguish the secular zone from the zone of the church but it underwent a semantic shift soon after. Social scientists define it as composed of intermediate associations of society that are distinct from groups composed by family, state, academia, culture or religion. Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute for the study of religion and liberty, defines civil society as ‘little platoons that (draw people) out of their immediate family without subsuming them into the state (and have) the capacity to assist people to look towards those higher ends of truth, beauty and the good’.

Precise usage

Be aware of uncountable nouns, i.e. nouns that have no plural form and are not used with ‘a’ or ‘an’. For instance, words like furniture, advice, poverty, jargon, luggage, entertainment and equipment. An uncountable noun would not need an ‘–s ending, so one could say ‘many pieces of luggage’ but not ‘many pieces of luggages’.