Toasted English by R.K. Narayan
In this essay “Toasted English” R.K. Narayan uses fantastic examples to demonstrate the differences between American and British English.
The author reminds us that, like Indians, Americans pushed the British out of their country but allowed the English to stay. By abandoning Passive Voice, the Americans simplified the use of English. On the notice-board, for example, instead of “Trespassing Prohibited” they put, “Newly planted, don’t walk” R.K. Narayan refers to this process of altering the English language as “toasting” Americans have developed a set of basic core words that may be employed wherever, at any time—words with global multifunctional application. “O.K” “Yeah” and similar expressions are more regularly employed.
R.K. Narayan goes on to examine English’s “the bazaar status” In London, English is utilised with finesse. On a London bus, the conductor will never say “Ticket, Ticket” but will just approach the passenger and say “Thank you” after receiving the fare and issuing the ticket.
Finally, he closes by adapting English to our needs, creating a “Bharat brand of English” He expressly states that he does not support “mongrelisation” or the hybridization of English. The author believes that Indian English should have its own distinct identity, a “Swadeshi Stamp” The author hopes that Indians build their own English that is more original and distinct than current English.
Questions and Answers
1. What does ‘toasted English’ refer to in American restaurants?
Answer: ‘Toasted English,’ according to author R.K. Narayan, refers to English muffins that, despite being created in America, still bear the ‘English’ label as a nod to their heritage.
2. What has happened as a result of the ‘toasting’ of English in America?
Answer: The ‘toasting’ of English in America has resulted in the loss of formalism surrounding the use of the English language.
3. How have the Americans simplified the language? Give examples.
Answer: The Americans simplified the language by separating it from the suffocating tyranny of the Passive Voice. For example, in America, the phrase ‘Trespassing Prohibited’ on signboards has been replaced with ‘Newly Planted’, ‘Do Not Walk’, which is less straightforward than British English and provides no space for speculation. Additionally, many American office doors bear a notice that reads, ‘Do Not Enter.’ Simultaneously, the traffic signs at pedestrian crossings are unambiguous; they simply say ‘Go’ or ‘Wait’.
4. What does the author means by ‘the American National Expression’? Why does it say so?
Answer: The author expresses how Americans have evolved specific keywords that can be utilised anywhere in the world by using the phrase “the American National Expression.”
He says this because expressions like ‘check,’ ‘anywhere,’ and ‘anyhow’ can be used carelessly and still be considered acceptable for the situation.
5. The author approves and disapproves of American English in certain senses. Give examples to elaborate.
Answer: The author agrees that Americans have built their own versions of English to fit their tastes and lifestyles, making it simpler, more conversational, and more informal. They liberated themselves from the suffocating tyranny of the Passive Voice in their use of the English language, making it simpler to express themselves. The author, on the other hand, disapproves since it does little to uphold the rule of law and the dignity of grammar. Giving out simplified instructions on the signboard where it is written ‘Absolutely Little Parking’ is an example of where the author approves of American English, as it provides no space for conjecture and one does not need to spend too much time peeking out and studying the signboard. Another point of contention for the author is the way American English disrespects the rule of law and the dignity of grammar when someone says something like, ‘Were U going, man?’
6. How according to the author, can the mongrelisation of English can be prevented?
Answer: According to the author, the mongrelisation of English can be avoided by respecting the rule of law and preserving the dignity of grammar, which keeps the English language on track.
7. How does the author visualize Bharat English?
Answer: The author R.K. Narayan envisions Bharat English as upholding the rule of law and the dignity of grammar. He stated that the Bharat brand would have to come to the dusty street, the market place, and under the banyan tree with an unmistakable swadeshi stamp, much like the Madras handloom check shirt or the Tirupati doll.
ll. Think and Write
1. Humour is the quality of a literary or informative work that makes the character and/ or situations seem funny, amusing, or ridiculous.
Do you appreciate the humour in this piece? Support your answer with examples.
Answer: Yes, I enjoy the essay’s humour. The author expertly communicated his thoughts to the readers through an interesting narrative that would have otherwise been a completely different case. Several examples can be given to demonstrate the humour in the essay, such as Narayan referring to the American form of English as “toasted” English because, while the Americans preserved the English language after removing the British, they modified it and made it their own over time. His exaggeration that one can safely say “check” in every setting and believe that it will fit in is also an amusing way of ensuring the readers grasp the word’s vast range of meanings in different contexts.
This essay has an admirable sense of humour. The author uses humour deftly throughout the article to illustrate various scenarios. Numerous examples can be used to demonstrate the humour in this piece/essay. For example, the essay’s portrayal of the English language’s transformation into ‘Toasted English’ exemplifies the essay’s comedy. Additionally, I find the author’s exaggeration of the term ‘check’ as an American National Expression to be amusing. Additionally, the author’s different examples of signboards are humorous, which is greatly appreciated.
2. Do you agree with Narayan that we need a ‘Bharat’ brand of English? Why?
Answer: Yes, I concur with the author, R K Narayan, that we require a ‘Bharat’ brand of English. Just as the Americans ‘Toasted’ English to create their own dialect, the time has come for us in India to seriously consider developing our own Bharat brand of English. Until now, English has been relegated to the halls of learning, administration, and courts of justice in India. Now is the time for it to make its way down the dusty street, to the market square, and beneath the banyan tree. English must adapt to the circumstances of our lives and make an attempt to assimilate its idiom. However, this does not imply a distortion of the grammar. Bharat English will adhere to the rule of law and the dignity of grammar while maintaining a Swadeshi flavour.
Yes, I believe we need a Bharat brand of English because English in India has had a relatively limited presence in the country—most notably in the halls of learning, justice, and administration. Now is the time for it to appear on the dusty street, in the market square, and beneath the banyan tree. English must take the hues of our lives and adapt its idiom. Bharat English would uphold the rule of law and the dignity of grammar while nevertheless bearing an unmistakable swadeshi mark.
3. Give examples of Indian words that have been incorporated into the English dictionary.
Answer: Some of the English words that have been incorporated into the English dictionary are dhoti, hartal, guru, samosa, etc.