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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

29 November, 2006

Mack English

This is what I heard while travelling to Kurla from Andheri on bus. A perfect example of Bombay's Mack English (Mack English is the one spoken by Goans, East Indians and Anglo Indians in Bombay. Parsis speak a variation of Mack English which should probably, hm, be called Pack English).

"Then whaddappen, no?, I told him not to do this that, and he says, it's all urgent, no?, like that, like that."

"Yeah, I told him only, don't do it, but he wont' listen only, no?"

When I am with Macks I do talk their English, I do confess. Now, some people mistake Mack English for the real English English and sometimes go to ridiculous extents to copy the style and intonation.

"What men [don't say man, it's always "men"], not to be seen only these days, no?"

"What men, you are the big man, carrying big bag, executive-bixicutive, forgetting poor, khadka, single phasli, like myself, no?"

"Hey what men, khali fokat, don't take panga with me, eh?"

"What you will do? This your dada's property, or what? Big man, coming, coming."

"Hey men, joking only, men."

"I know men."

Both laugh.

"I know your are good at making fun of myself, no?, too bad men."

"Whaaat men? simply teasing, teasing."

"Arre, I went to ask that bar fellow no? that baldy, he won't give me quarter only, men. He *$#@ said he wants fifty rupees, no? I say mother******* devil, the satan from hell."

"Then what he did?"

"Silent, men. Like that only. Shut him up only."

So went the conversation. Most of the above is my own invention, but serves to illustrate the way Mack English is spoken. Here's a song I have written to Mack English:

Mack English

Mack English is spoken,
Though at times it's broken,
In Bombay and in Girgaon,
In Goa and in Konkan.

Grammar we know none,
Speaking Mack is fun,
We talk like this only,
For we are like this only.

Father forgive don't hate,
Mass and confession can wait,
It's feni and fish we crave,
Before the call of the grave.

Johnny play the bongo,
Michael sing the Fado,
Together we will dance,
And Rosy we will romance.

Fado is a Portuguese song.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i must appreciate your listening skills. an almost authentic reproduction of Mack. i find the song quite amusing as well as bringing in flavours of Goa and its laidback lifestyle.

30 November, 2006 23:07  
Blogger SilentSensation said...

Your style is verry intersting and very authentic. Got me all nostalgic for the macks in mumbai. we had one of those working for us, a gem of a person and so versatile.

03 December, 2006 18:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from my 21 years of living with macks i must argue that your version is almost entirely invented, save for the men and the no bit, your problem is youve been too original and yet you want this to pass of as authentic. There is an art to documenting the colloqual which you have obviously not mastered.

10 December, 2006 01:22  
Blogger John said...

Hey Anonymous,

First of all, why be anonymous when you can come forward and give your comments openly?

I know I do not know Mack English from inside. I haven't lived with Macks that long.

What I wanted to get through was how Mack English has created a sub-culture of Mack speakers, who interpret Mack as the way English is spoken in Bombay, not as a dialect or as a pidgin.

Get my point? My concern is not to master the colloquial but to put Mack into a blender and present a churned version that people can identify as Mack. All writers do that.

Alternatively, if I wrote authentic Mack, I am sure nobody would understand.

Hope this clarifies your points, anonymous!

11 December, 2006 18:55  

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