SOME SIAMESE TWINS IN ENGLISH!
Being a “natural” language—i.e. a dialect spoken around London that chanced to grow over years into a full bodied language of millions—the English language throws some strange coinages or fusions of words at you, the learner, plus a dozen or more exceptions to the general rule governing the rest. Not to mention the clichés, slang, Cockney dialect, argot, and jargon expressions!
So, dear English teacher anywhere, please don’t shoo away the learner that accosts you with doubts about these lexically tangential expressions or syntactical or usage oddities! He is genuine and sincere of course. A military command like “To the Left!” screamed by a platoon leader facing a platoon can confuse at least some of the troops; they may march to the right instead, since the Platoon Leader’s Left is their Right!
Be gentle when you clarify a doubt for your learner! And smile! Never look like Mr Grimwig, Mr Brownlow’s friend, in Charles Dickens’ classic novel titled Oliver Twist!
Veering round to my topic for the day, Siamese Twins are paired expressions that crane towards each other to look like a single phrase before they occur in a sentence.
I am delighted to give some illustrations for your edification. Guess the probable meaning of each underlined expression and then check the answers given at the end!
- Such bits and pieces of stale information can’t be of any assistance to us at all!
- What he told her by way of admonishment tasted gall and wormwood to that spunky girl at 18.
- I am heart and soul for cherry picking Hari as the Chairman of our College Union.
- Not even a single jot or tittle can you hope to alter in the Book of Fate –or in this essay by Reena Korah!
- The nation progressed by leaps and bounds once the people took the initiative in ensuring the quality of governance, and set their wills to work on their behalf!
- Abou Ben Adhem woke up at midnight on sensing a radiant light all around in his room; lo and behold, he noticed a golden winged angel making some entries in a thick tome!
- The beggar maid was clad in rags and tatters, but her radiant face with an infectious smile made up for her sartorial inadequacy!
- This Project report you submitted, I regret to say, has neither shape or form; you shall have to improve its layout and text clarity!
- No bachelor need to take pains to wed a girl, unless and until he pledges to Godhead and himself that, as breadwinner for his future family unit, he shall have to toil and moil for ensuring a paradise of plenty under his roof!
- Your late Dad was fair and square in almost all his dealings and relationships with other humans, be they his relatives or unknown members of the open public!
- Just as the cackle of geese frightened the Vandals outside the Roman Wall, a lay burglar got flustered out of his wits when the womenfolk of the residential colony made a hue and cry on sighting him!
- The huge castle of the late Count Dracula, somewhere in the Carpathian mounts of Romania, has gone to rack and ruin long ago!
- A bachelor’s quarters could be proverbially at sixes and sevens; but Raju’s apartment was a refreshing exception this rule of thumb! It was always spick and span!
- A certain quantum of red-tapism (an Indian English coinage!) is believed by Indians to be part and parcel of all officialdom , including bureaucracy!
- The toddler patiently put back the odds and ends that had fallen from his torn school bag!
ANSWERS: 1.scraps 2.utterly embittering 3.absolutely in favor of 4.not even a word 5.at a staggering rate 6.suddenly 7.old, torn clothes 8.be unimpressive and shoddy 9.work hard 10.above board; honest 11.hubbub,noise, fuss 12.dilapidated 13.commendaby tidy 14.an invariable companion 15.trifle.
Have a good day!