Frederick FN Noronha * फ्रेड्रिक नोरोन्या * فريدريك نورونيا
2014-05-22 09:40:50 UTC
him as "Uncle"! ("Am I your mother's brother!" he would retort.)
My late mum would always comment if someone would ask, "Boslai?" (Are you
seated?) when they saw her on the balcony in the morning. Can't they see
that I'm seated, she would say in protest!
My wife would ask me, "What do you mean by '*Just* serve my food'?"
My Panchgani-raised friend Dinesh Dias would sometimes get visibly upset
when I greeted something unbelievable which he told me (usually in the
now-not-so-crowded Cafe Prakash) with a "Shut-up, men!" "What you mean
'Shut-up'?" he would say, almost with an injured sounding air. This did
puzzle me, because what I was trying to say was simply that his story was
good, so good that it was almost unbelievable!
As someone long puzzled by all this lost-in-translation phenomenon all
around me, I only much later realised this happens because those unused to
the typically Goan manner of speaking take something to be amiss.
Now for the other side of the story:
*Uncle* in Konkani doesn't imply any familial relationship; it's just a way
of addressing a middle-aged/elderly usually Catholic Goan male. In Mumbai,
even young streetside shopkeepers address me as "Uncle".
*Bosla* or *boslai* isn't a question about your state of activity, or lack
of it. It's simply a substitute for *hello* or *good morning* or *fine
day*. The last of these we never use here, because the weather, being so
nice (or maybe we're so tolerant), is something we're not almost allowed to
grumble about; some of us even like the drenching monsoons -- that we
didn't manage to con many tourists to visit that time of the year is
something else -- and the humid summers give us lovely fruit, don't forget.
(The even better one is "Nusteak kitem?" i.e. What's for fish today?) And
'just' is probably the literal English translation of 'matschem' (a form of
'please', but maybe not that polite). As in "Matschem jevonn vadd!" (not
sure if my usage here is gramatically very accurate!). Maybe something like
the Kannada phrase 'solpa'.
"Shut-up" is a literal translation of the Konkani "Ugi rav re!" Some of
these words are untranslatable. So is their connotation.
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