I need to own up. Though I’m part of a species that has been around for generations, I am not from your planet. I come from the square-shaped planet - Aw’cheu (Pronounced as Ach-ooo; Yes, the same sound that you humans seem to make when you sneeze.) Thousands of years ago, the then king of Aw’cheu, my great-grandfather Ack’isu (Pronounced as Acc-iu) had a visitor from another planet. As is the norm in our land, whenever we have a foreign dignitary visit Aw’cheu, the king orders for the twenty-six characters that form the Aw’cheu Hieroglyphs to be sparkled, shined and displayed in the public courtyard. And it was no different this time around too. But fate intervened. One of the aides slipped on the rung of the ladder that was holding him up, and the entire set of characters fell down the chute that led to your planet. My great-grandfather immediately ordered the assembly of a recovery team who would go down the chute and bring back the characters that were the very symbol of Aw’cheu. However, no one had ever been to Earth before and was therefore cautious about the dangers that lurked in the shadows of the blue planet. The bravest of them all, my grandfather Prince Schucergha (pronounced Shoe-sera), promptly gathered a band of Aw'cheuites warriors and decided to undertake the mission to retrieve our most prized possession. On the day of his departure, he sought the King's blessings and slid down the chute into the unknown with his team.
Days soon turned into months, and we heard nothing from my grandfather. However one day, there was a knock on the door that had been built over the chute to prevent any further mishaps. Our weakened King ordered the chutes to be opened to welcome our unknown visitor. As the giant wooden doors opened up into the grey skies, a giant blue creature rose from the chute with a large piece of parchment tried to its feet. The parchment turned out to be a letter from Prince Schucergha with updates about his mission. My grandfather had discovered that when our Aw’cheu characters had fallen through the chute, they were collected by your forefathers who refused to hand them over. A battle ensued in which my grandfather and his band of warriors were defeated. In order to restore peace, my grandfather agreed to teach them how to use the characters to build a proper and effective communication system. And that’s how your English Alphabet was born.
It is quite natural to wonder why I may be writing this letter to you today. But I assure you that it is not without reason. As generations flew by, we continued to keep tabs on how you adopted and adapted to the language. Initially, we were ecstatic. You managed to develop it a lot further than what we could have ever imagined to. However, at some point circa 2000 years after that man JC passed away, two discoveries known as the Internet and Mobile Phones, started to create a bit of disorder. So we took matters back into our own hands. Together with many learned scholars from our peers, we formed an elite group called the IGPD, who were committed to right any wrongs that had been done to what was once a very special vernacular. Yes, we make mistakes too. Some of you are still alive because of that. If we had our way, you’d be languishing at the bottom of the deepest cavern on this planet while hot, molten lava poured from the top slowly consumed your physical being. Are you shuddering at the mere thought of that? Well, that’s how we feel when you vandalise the language.
Normally, we wouldn’t hesitate to kick your lovely, plump behinds. However we have been specifically told that there are rules that govern these sort of activities. So we’ve had to take deep breaths and walk around with a fake smiles on our faces, while silently correcting your grammar and spellings. But the world of blogs and social media opened up new worlds and avenues for us. They let us interact with some of your more learned and esteemed figures, who were proud to join forces, to battle this unprecedented evil. Together, we realised, that we could be the bigger (and better) beings and just try to teach you those skills again. Yes, the same ones that my grandfather and his warriors taught your great-forefathers. Given how wide-spread the epidemic is, we realise that it may take a lot longer than we originally anticipated. But we will not give up without a fight.
On that note, as part of this welcome letter, here are a few tips (and cheats as you call it) from our newly published e-book : English 101 for the Modern Online Human.
The Similar Sound conundrum
There are many words in the English language that sound very similar. But let me assure you that they are not interchangeable. So get a dictionary if you want to. These are some of those words that you may come across:
A missed comma or a period (don’t laugh!) can create a lot of havoc. So please pay attention when you write sentences. Even if it is on your blog. It may save a few lives. For example: “Don’t wear black people.” and “Don’t wear black, people.” could be the difference between you being construed as a racist or a normal human being.
The Short character syndrome
The Short Message Service (or SMS as you humans call it) undid all the hard work that my grandfather put in. And then came that cheeky, little blue bird that masquerades as “Twitter” restricting everyone to 140 characters or less. Hence I understand the need to use slangs and sometimes acronyms in order to ensure you don’t overshoot the imposed character limits. But aren’t you taking it a stretch too far when you decide to use these “short characters” on a daily basis? Sometimes even in professional emails, letters and articles.
For example: The word “before” is spelt “BEFORE”, not B4. It’s English, not a game of Bingo.
The curious case of the English Language
English is a funny language. Not everything is pronounced the way you read, nor is everything written the way it is pronounced. Deal with it! You will get used to it. Haven't you heard - Practice makes perfect. For example: Did you want to “ask” me or “axe" me? I’m pretty sure one is murder.
So you see, we aren't entirely cruel. We appreciate that the English language is not easy to master. And we don’t judge humans based on creed, race, colour of skin, religion, gender, like you do. None of those classifications matter to us. That’s not to say we don’t judge. We totally do. But we base it on spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.
So the next time you vandalise the English language (which is rightfully ours), do not be surprised if we slowly creep up behind you and whack on the head until you get it right.
Thank you for your attention.
Ser’qua'eeq Burdraurnelmy Communication Lieutenant IGPD - Intergalactic Grammar Police Department To Correct | To Serve
P.S. I’ll let you off for good behaviour if you can pronounce my name correctly.
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Tell us a joke! Knock-knock joke, long story with an unexpected punchline, great zinger — all jokes are welcome! " I agree that this is not really a joke-kind of post. But Ser'qua'eeq has connections who are holding my family hostage until I publish this post. Since there had to be a joke, here's one that keeps with the theme:All images are courtesy of Google Image Search. And my sincere apologies to the IGPD for any grammatical inconsistencies.
"Ouch! That hurt!" *rubs the back of his head*
Pixie and I share a very strange friendship. We are rather close, discuss everything (and everyone ...yes, beware!) under the sun (especially fellow bloggers/writers) and also leave no stone unturned trying to tease and get one up on each other. "What's strange about that?" I hear you ask. Here's the thing. Pixie and I have never met. And we have never ever spoken. Probably because I'm not much of a phone person. But more on than later. Yes, we know almost everything that is there to know about each other and our families. Then why do I use the name Pixie, I hear you ask. Because Pixie, just like her pseudo-name, has a streak of mischievousness and just like the folklore, she is someone who is very fond of dancing. She writes with a passion that is so rare these days amongst lot of us writer-folks and her blog represents her space and her thoughts on anything and everything.
You can find more about her, here : http://mytakeoneverything9.wordpress.com/
If I had to describe our friendship with the help of a YouTube video, this would be it:
And on that joyful note, here's a short fiction post that she wrote for me. Read it. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. And Pixie, Thank you !
Helen smiled as she read the quote inscribed on the first page of her best-friend Aaron’s novel. It felt good to see her words imprinted in ink, that too on a book that had already sold over a million copies. She glanced at the clock on the wall. She needed to leave now, if she was to arrange everything for the party that was being thrown for Aaron. For a first-time author, the book was an unprecedented success and Helen was thrilled for him. Together with his wife Elise, Helen had planned the whole party and had even managed to keep it a secret from Aaron.The bakers had confirmed the delivery of the cake to the apartment. Helen had personally picked out the design and had decided that it was going to be shaped in the form of an open book with an inscription from the book. It was even to have the pages marked. As Helen ran around her apartment trying to get the decorations ready, she thought about the story that Aaron had written. It was about a mysterious shape-shifter, a man who was a creature of the night and protector of the city. The protagonist Adam Roock, was a normal man by day. But as night slipped in, Adam changed into different forms to help the people and Police of the city of New York. Whilst Helen loved the story, she couldn’t help but smile at the resemblance to the famed Harry Potter series. But since it had appealed to everyone from kids to teenagers to even adults, the publisher and editor had already started to pressurise Aaron to write a sequel. Being a stickler for details, Helen had decided that only Aaron’s favorite food was to be served. She’d taken the pains to ensure that all the families and their kids had RSVP’d and had even set up a bar for the adults and a juice counter for the younger kids. The food included bite-sized calzones with marinara sauce as a dip, potato wedges with a white cheese and chilli sauce and generous helpings of portioned garlic bread and tomato soup. In addition, knowing Elise’s fondness for Indian food, Helen had also arranged for some spicy deep-fried Cauliflower florets (known as Chilli Gobis) along with vegetarian kebabs with the cocktails. They’d decided that Helen’s 13th floor apartment would be perfect for the party since it was spacious and most of her modern décor furniture could be rearranged to accommodate the guests. Though she’d mentioned that the party would commence at 6:30pm, guests had already started trickling in by 6pm. Helen fervently hoped that Aaron and Elise would be able to make it at least by 7pm.
Across town, Elise stared at Aaron with a look of worry etched on her face. This was one party they couldn’t afford to miss. But Aaron was reluctant. “Couldn’t you have just postponed it? The timing of this whole supposed surprise party sucks!” he said straightening his bow. Elise nodded and said, “I know Aaron. I know. But, Jim’s babysitter said she was free only tonight and you know how hard it is to get someone on such short notice. Please act surprised and we will try to leave early.” She walked over to him, kissed him lightly and said, “You look very handsome in a tux, Mr. Bestselling author!” The tension left Aaron’s shoulders and he smiled at his gorgeous wife wondering how he had gotten so lucky with her.As soon as Aaron and Elise walked in to Helen’s apartment, the party started. Though he’d known about it, Aaron was genuinely surprised because he hadn’t expected it to be on such a grand scale. Extremely touched by Helen’s sweet gesture, he thanked her for the lovely party. He signed a few books and even posed for a picture with an over-enthusiastic 15 year old and her parents. After the initial chitter-chatter, Aaron slowly pulled away into a corner. He wanted to be happy. The success of his book meant everything to him, but tonight just wasn’t the right time to celebrate. He watched as some of the young couples danced around. There was even a book-reading session set up for the young adults in one of the guest-bedrooms. “Helen has surpassed herself.” he thought fondly as he saw her bring the beautiful cake into the room. Amidst a lot of laughter and festivity, Aaron cut the beautiful cake. It was whisked away by Helen to be cut into neat pieces and served to everyone. He loved the food and the drinks but didn’t eat much. He could feel his insides twitch and struggle. He checked the watch constantly dreading that it might be too late to leave.
As the clock hit 10:30pm, Elise signalled to a beaming Helen and pulled her closer. With a smile on her face, she said “It’s time for us to leave darling. Please make our excuses to the rest of the gang. Aaron needs to be home soon. Jim will need his feed too.” Though her face dropped, Helen nodded sombrely. She hugged Elise and said, “Call me if you need anything.” Mouthing a thank you, Elise and Aaron quietly left the apartment. It was close to midnight when they reached home. As he always did, Aaron went into little Jim’s nursery and kissed him. As he watched Jim sleep soundly, he knew a time would come when Jim had to know the truth. But, for now, he felt blessed for little Jim and his cute innocence.Aaron walked over to Elise and gave her a tight hug. He slowly walked out of the house and shut the door gently behind him. As he turned a dark street corner, he noticed that they had a full moon. As the clock on the church tower struck midnight, Aaron felt himself transform. He came from a family of shape-shifters. For centuries, their secret had been guarded. If History was to be believed, they had started off as killers, unsure of their powers and frightened of the changes. But, since his great-grandfather’s reign, they had done only good to their communities. The Police often kept quiet as there was no way to explain the strange occurrences. So they did the best they could; they took credit for the exceptionally low crime-rate and accepted the accolades that were bestowed on them. The gift was passed on through generations to only the first child in the family, when they turned 13. Little Jim still had plenty time before he came to know or even understood the huge responsibility his forefathers had passed on. The leaves on the trees rustled as the cool night breeze passed through them. As Aaron took the shape of a moving shadow and slunk away into the darkness quietly to play the saviour once again, he thought fondly about the quote that Helen had inscribed in the first page of his book.
The quill moves The soul struggles The story stays The plot moves Characters get involved Reality shifts Fiction becomes the truth....
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Plan the ultimate celebration for the person you’re closest to, and tell us about it. Where is it? Who’s there? What’s served? What happens? "]