Monday, August 13, 2007

the power of 'cheee'

a lot has been said and written about how we use language, especially the written word, in a very limited fashion to express ourselves and our ideas. very often we find ourselves in situations where we are struggling to find the right word to aptly express what we are trying to say! and its during such 'frozen' moments that we fall back on some of our favourite words.

some of these words are unmentionable and unreproducible here in this blog since i believe this blog has a 'family' readership. but you will agree that these 'filler words' (you might even call them 'killer words') have an almost magical quality of morphing themselves into a myriad set of meanings; usually way beyond what the original utterer of the word ever intended for it.

lets take the very indian expression 'chee' which roughly translates into 'how disgusting!'. but this same word if pronounced as 'cheee' also translates into 'go on! i don't believe you/he/she/it/someone can be so disgusting!'.

here's a short list of the various possible connotations of the same 'sound expulsion' :
1. 'che' when said in a short irritated fashion expresses just that - extreme irritation.
2. 'chi' when expressed with a lot of sideways-head-shaking would typically denote self-loathing for having missed that god-given opportunity of making an easy buck or something along those lines.
3. 'shee' said with a lot of fluttering of the eyes would basically mean the universal statement 'i like it but i am obviously not going to let you know that, am i'?
4. 'chi chi chi' muttered multiple times under your breath with a lot of vigorous head-shaking would clearly mean you have just done something very sacrilegious.
5. 'oh shee' is what kids say when they want to be polite and not utter unmentionable words within earshot of the elders.
6. an exaggerated 'cheee' with a lot of eyebrow raising and nose-wrinkling might just be a group of friends just harmlessly pulling someone's leg in the group.
7. and then there are some who would not deign to utter such crude sounds but would rather utter a polished 'sheesh' making you wonder how they happened to be born on the wrong side of the english channel (and i don't mean the bbc here).

i could go on and on... but i think you get the general idea (and i don't want you going 'sheesh' over me!).

the problem with such words and expressions is that over time they become convenient crutches to lean on to when we don't get the right word in our daily conversations. and then over time we slowly start losing the agility of speech and start uttering a language which sounds vaguely like english but is wide off the mark!

do you know any other similar expressions that we use often? (but please remember this is a 'family' viewing/reading blog!) :-)


Manasi said...

how about UFFF

loosly put, it denote tiredness over encountering a repititive source of irritation.

i have seen people use this a lot over chat-rooms... pretty soon yahoo is going to have an icon in its honor :-) ha!ha!ha!

Guruprasad said...

i agree.

but i also notice regional biases in such expressions.

eg. you will not hear UFFF in the south. you will come across it more often in the north and the east.

among the south indians the derivatives of CHEEE like 'chhay' or 'aiyye', etc. are more popular.