From Aw’cheu, with love


  Dear Humans,

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.

CommasMatter Punctuation



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.

SMSLang Write_comBLOG


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.

English_GHOTIEnglish Pronounciation


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.

Grammatically yours,


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:Grammar JokeAll 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*

Our “Tech-Savvy” Kids

“Go to your room, and think about what you did!” Though my neighbour spoke in a fairly monotonous voice, I could sense the firmness in her words. So could her seven-year old son. Giving her an angry stare, worthy of Hannibal Lecter, he picks his PSP, storms off into his room, and slams the door shut. The whole flat shudders slightly, and so does my teacup, which politely sat on the coffee table. Not quite sure how to respond, I do the best possible thing – I pick up the floral teacup and sip on some heavenly masala chai.

Now in the interest of respecting their privacy, I’m not going to divulge what led to this “battle”. Nevertheless I will say this – The kid was in the wrong, at least in my opinion. But then, people say that the behavior of kids are usually a reflection of their upbringing. Anyway, this incident got me thinking – Are kids really that different now, than say the 70’s-80’s, when most of us would have been in their shoes?

Image courtesy /Clare Bloomfield

Not much has changed biologically, I suppose. Kids still like to run freely and jump about. They still love to go higher and higher on the set of swings in the playground. They still get a kick out of playing games such as hide & seek and running & catching with their friends. They are still impressed with the tall giraffes at the zoo and the playful dolphins at the Water Kingdom. So, the kids of the 21st century all seem to have been essentially “wired” in the same way as us. So what’s changed then?

The answer has to be technology. Yes I know, our kids are probably more adept at using newer technology than we would have been at the same age. The difference is the influence of technology in every day life. And that’s what is changing our kids and subsequently our parenting style. Confused? Let’s take a look at few examples:

Communicating with friends

Image Courtesy

Back in the day, we spoke face to face. We wrote letters and notes. When our friend’s parents answered the phone, we respectfully addressed them and politely enquired about our friends. We spoke in complete sentences. Today, technology has completely turned this art of communication on its head. With most kids having some form of portable communication device – i.e. smartphone /iPod/iPad, they don’t find the need to have to speak at all.

Research has shown the average number of phone calls have dropped drastically while the numbers of text messages and Instant Messages have increased almost three fold. Even if they need to speak to each other, the good old fashioned “Let’s meet at my place, my mom has made cookies” has been replaced by “Let’s FaceTime/Skype”. Why, even a good oldfangled “Hi” has been replaced by the inevitable “Poke”.


Image courtesy Google image search

Do I see a few raised eyebrows? Sure, technology has ironed out a lot of monotonous creases. No longer do we have to mull over the pages of a dictionary to check the right spelling. And when in doubt, we always have Wikipedia and Google (and others) to correct us. But my concern lies elsewhere. Most school-going kids these days are unable to string together a whole sentence without grammatical error. Strangely, they could probably convey the same sentence in less than 140 characters via an SMS, Twitter or Facebook status update. With auto-correct and online dictionaries, kids of today are much more reliant on technology for writing (or maybe I should say typing) than we used to be. Spellings have just become plain awful.

“Digital Dementia”

Image courtesy

Kids, particularly the teenage groups, are showing a decreased ability of memory retention. From simple things such as phone numbers and special dates such as birthdays and other important occasions, kids (and adults too) are becoming increasingly reliant on their “faithful, on-hand technology” such as smartphones, laptops and tablets which often serve as memory aids or in some cases, their personal assistant (Yes, Apple – I’m talking about Siri). Whilst the act of utilizing technology to remember important occasions is not something to be entirely frowned upon, scientific research has shown time and time again, that those who rely almost completely on technology suffer deterioration in their cognitive abilities. Even Google co-founder Larry Page had mentioned in an article that research showed that our memory retained much lesser information when reading from a screen as opposed to reading the same thing from a physical book. Need I say more?

Frustration, Anger & Patience (or rather lack of)

Image courtesy

When we were young, the terms frustration and short-tempered were often used to describe the teenage years, and with good reason. There were a lot of physical and emotional changes associated with the age group and hence time and again, boundaries were crossed and sometimes thrown out. However, it has been observed that pre-teen children these days, are victims of increased frustration and shortened fuses. It isn’t out of the ordinary to see kids as young as seven or eight flip their lid, when asked to do something as trivial as taking their plates to the sink after a meal. With regards to the patience element, I suppose it’s not just kids, but even adults. I mean back in the days when the Internet was in its nascent stages of dial-up, we were ok with having to wait the better part of 10 minutes for a basic page to load. These days, with technology having forged ahead, kids do not even know what “slow” means when it comes to technology. The amount of times they refresh a browser page or their Facebook page is a clear indication that the virtue of patience is on the decline.

Let’s be clear – I am not against technology and its use in day-to-day activities. Yes, technology has its upsides. Kids today know where to get the information. They are able to harness technology effectively, be it for the school essay homework or for their science project. Technology has helped make them more independent than our generation was, as kids. But there are always two sides to any argument, and I’m merely suggesting thatexcessive exposure to technology, especially for kids during their formative years, will not be without its drawbacks.

The simplest thing we can do is to ensure that we, as parents, use our sound judgment to ensure our kids use technology as a tool to survive and flourish in this era, but not at the expense of their basic inherent social skills

Now, to end on a lighter note, I’d like to ask all of you to attempt something – whenever you find a few spare minutes.

Image courtesy Eman

Try and “write” your next article or blog post in a book or sheets of paper. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. Try and write a page of something, maybe even try to copy an article from the newspaper. Try writing it continuously without taking a break, sort of like writing an exam. For most of us, after a few lines, our arms will start to ache. Might be in varying shades of pain, but it will ache. Now think why?

You’re right – It’s simply because we don’t write as much as we used to. It’s all about typing, touch-screen pinching and swiping; that’s what we’re so used to, that we’ve completely lost touch with the art of writing. Our arm/hand muscles don’t get that much of a work out as they used to. Now think of the current and future generation of kids. They are already adept at using the touch screen to type and their fingers often fly through the keyboard keys. Imagine how they could possibly tackle a 3-hour examination (assuming that it is still three hours) where they have to write their answers. Their little arms probably hurt a lot more than ours; after all they’ve been using touch screens and keyboards from birth, and pens/pencils occasionally.

Do you reckon it’ll come as a surprise if their grades fall due to their inability to complete a physically written exam? After all not every exam will be a computer-adapted one. On that hopefully thought provoking note, I’ll end this here.

This post was originally written for Parentous, and you can view the original version here.