Extract from the English version of Social Science textbook

Extract from the English version of Social Science textbook

The prose (above) does not qualify for teaching in any class if you value good English. The errors are marked in red ink. They include wrong construction of sentences and use of words besides errors of grammar and spelling. Carelessness is obvious: the panchayat’s name (in the Malayalam version, it is Nagalasseri) as well as the name of the book (Pokkuveyil) has been misspelled. Punctuation is incorrect both in the Malayalam and English versions.

The following is the controversial portion from Lesson 2 of the textbook as appearing in the English version of the reader.

No Religion for Jeevan
Jeevan”s parents came to school seeking admission to him. The parents were seated on the chairs and the Headmaster started to fill up the application form.

“What is the name of your son?”
“Jeevan”
“Good, nice name; “Father’s name?”
“Anwar Rashid”
“Mother’s name?”
“Lakshmi Devi”
The headmaster looked at the parents and asked.
“What about the religion of the child?”
“Need not record anything.”
“Write no religion”
“Caste?”
“No need of that too”
The headmaster reclined in the chair and asked seriously.
“When he grows up if he wish to have a religion?”
“In that case let him choose the religion of his choice”

A better translation from the Malayalam version can be seen at
Textbook Controversy -translation

Let us forget that English needs a more polite form. (Eg. Please leave that blank or you may write ‘no religion’.) The first sentence has a grammatical error. There is no consistency in the capitalisation of the word Headmaster. The translator has not even cared to note that the first question was addressed to the boy in the Malayalam version. It was only at a later stage that the Headmaster looked up at the parents and asked them about religion. He went on to ask about caste though the answer was obvious. The last three sentences have awkward construction and the middle one has a grammatical error. It should have been “What if he wishes to have a religion when he grows up?” “In that case, let him make his own choice.”

(To be continued)

Part I: Social Science textbook is a compendium of errors

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