SRI LANKA.....the madness continues.....Literary Corner.....................................................{short description of image}


{short description of image} English, as he is spoke..... {short description of image}

Images copyright © 2002 crazylanka

Keen readers of this website would remember my promise to publish a poem on the subject of Singhlish. Singhlish, otherwise known as Murdering the Queen, is a well known affliction in Srilanka; probably stemming from the days of the "Sinhala Only" campaign. Many years ago when confronted about the lack of public toilets a senior Government official promised to provide " not only urinals but arsenals as well"! This is about the best example of Singlish that I can think of which can cross most language and cultural barriers, and can still raise a laugh. ( I tried this on the inhabitants of Devonshire and they did laugh!)

Sadly, Singhlish is probably only understood and appreciated by first generation Srilankans. Since this website has an International Readership the editor would like to apologise to non-first generation Srilankan readers for wasting so much web space.

The poem appeared in The Ceylon Observer in the sixties and I believe has been reprinted in recent times. I have been unable to identify the author and as such cannot give due credit. I am obliged to my sisters Babs & Shira for updating me on the exact wording. They both know it by heart and have set it to music! I have not only reproduced the exact wording but I have also retained the original spelling which is quite important in appreciating Singhlish.(e.g.ole = all, oleways = always. Actually, my spellcheck worked that out!). Without further ado here we go....OPEN WINDOW FULLY TO APPRECIATE THE RHYMING.

Everyday when looking papers I am very sad,
They are telling in the Ceylon English very bad.
Is this ole a humbug Mister? Sometimes may be true.
So I want to tell and give you what and what to do.

Explanatory notes:
In the Sinhala language "looking" and "perusing" (ie reading) are covered by the same word (BALANAWA). This should explain the first line.

Olden times when we were children in the village school.
Father told "Must learn the English, otherwise-you fool!"
Those days teachers taking trouble taught the English well.
If I do not do my homework, they are giving hell!

Nowadays have "Shramadana" in the sun must dig,
Other times too much of talking, classes very big.
Principal is oleways absent, teachers putting part,
Boys are taking S.S.C and only passing Art!

"Shramadana" is work experience but not in an air-conditioned office! More in line with Khmer Rouge thinking.
The expression "putting part" is best translated as "acting up" "arrogance" or as "showing off their importance"

Art was of course the easiest subject to pass...These days in Britain, an unmade bed can be a work of art (The unmade bed of some silly female by the name of Tracey was exhibited in a London museum!)

Now I am an English teacher, now I can enjoy,
I am doing better job than any other boy.
Father putting sarong only, simple village clerk,
I am putting trousers also, going in the park.

The reference to the Twist and the Cha-Cha (last verse) should give an idea as to the approximate vintage of this poem....

I engaged to Burgher lady, talking English well,
How to Twist and do the Cha-Cha she is going to tell.
So I tell you without English, useless you will be,
Like a buffalo in the village married to a tree!

Being tied (to an object) and being married are also covered by a single word: Bandinawa (One could argue it is the same thing anyway!)
That should explain the very last line.
Buffaloes are considered stupid (but personally, I don't think so!)

Readers who love this sort of thing would already know President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines.
When he was merely the Vice President, frustrated by the lack of service in a restaurant in spite of beckoning a waitress, he complained to the manager: "Sir, I have been fingering your waitress for a long time, but she does not want to come!"

English people sleeping in the sun to get a tan,
Pouring oil upon their faces like a frying pan,
Funny thing about it is they all go rosy red,
Next day when the peeling starts they're crying in their beds!

Oh to be in England, now that spring is here!
Oh to be in England, drinking English beer!
Bill Forbes, an Anglo-Lankan, composed and recorded this song in the fifties under the name of Kal Khan..This is only the first verse and chorus..

In Memoriam
So. Farewell then
Those Buddhist statues
Blown up by
The Taliban.

Now I will never
Be able to see
Not that I would have done

Because I had never heard
Of you
Until you were

This "poem" appeared in the "Poetry Corner" of PRIVATE EYE, the satirical magazine.
HISTORICAL NOTE: In March 2001 the idiot Afghans blew up some ancient Buddhist statues which nobody had heard of before. As soon as they declared their intention loads of people, who probably had never heard of Buddha, got interested...including the Americans.
The Americans, who have great difficulty in working out where exactly the rest of the world is in relation to the US of A, sensed another opportunity to bomb non-Americans but probably realised that Afghanistan was where the Russians met their Waterloo! (This expression probably confused the Americans who always thought that Waterloo was a railway station in London!..)
Srilanka offered to pay money to preserve the statues but was totally ignored....It would be interesting to find out how the Srilankan Government suddenly found money to rescue ancient statues that nobody had really heard of..No doubt that money will now be earmarked for.....

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