Feb 18, 2009

He's always on a tangent

The adventures of English in India have always been exciting to observe. Yet another reminder was served up today when a colleague received a rather innocuous email:
Dear [so-and-so],
Please find the attachment of resume. He is my cosine brother. He is in a software Eng.
One could not help but laugh (Harish had tears streaming down his face).

On reflection, this spelling makes a lot of phonetic sense. Initially, I thought this was a case of "when spell-checkers go wild". But thanks to the wisdom of "English is a very funny language" (a.k.a अंग्रेजी बड़ी अवैज्ञानिक भाषा है), I can see why there would be quite a few Indians making that mistake (as this Google search shows).

Thanks to Niranjan for inspiring the headline


Mankutimma said...

Thanks to you for providing more "evidence" for cosine brother; Your entry (among many matrimonial ads) is number 3 in google :)

Anonymous said...

"Sine brother" gets 336 hits. There is even a song that mentions about a "black sine brother". I couldn't guess what sort of brother a sine is from these links. Merriam-Webster talks only about trigonometry.

Tangent brother gets 126 but almost them have a comma in between. There are no secant brothers.

George said...

Phonetic sense? By a stretch, perhaps? Surely there's a perceptible difference between the pronunciation of cousin (kazin) and cosine (kosaain) or am I just missing something really obvious? In any case, this explains the popularity of the coefficient of the linear.

Yash Marathe said...

This reminds me of (numerous) incidents in my French class where people have used "cousine" (female cousin) [pronounced kuuzeen] for "cuisine" [pronounced kwizeen]... usually as "I like French cousine"

J Ramanand said...

Mankutimma: yes, strangely, the search results show the matri-sites to be the biggest staging ground for this

KRW Fan: very interesting observations there. Triangulations to you :-)

Yash Marathe: sort of a suite/sweet/suit conundrum

George: Warped thinking, but try thinking of it as "co-" as in "commitment" + "sin" + a very superfluous "-e".

Salil said...

Hope you've seen this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_English#Grammar.2C_idioms_and_usage_in_Indian_English

Santosh Kumar T K said...

On a tangent again,


I hope you don't mind the hijack!

J Ramanand said...

STK: thanks - it was a tangent after all. The hype begins!