Sunday, September 23, 2007

Communication in India

Many of you will be familiar with the Indian head wobble, that multivalent gesture which can mean yes, no, ok, maybe, and many other things in between. I did not know, however, until I reached Delhi that there is a North Indian and a South Indian version of the head wobble. I discovered this upon being told by North Indians that I have a very good South Indian head wobble!

I still have not mastered the Indian use of the word "only." It often comes at the end of sentences. I did, however, finally figure out that "this thing" and "this one" are the equivalent to "you know" in American English, also mainly occurring at the end of sentences. (Malaysians add "la" to the end of their sentences.)

I have to say I kind of got used to being called "madam." I was also introduced to another version of this formality, especially at hotels, in which "Miss" or "Mr." is added in front of your first name. I actually referred to my roommate as "Ms. Hanni" while speaking to the reception desk at one hotel!

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