Namma* Bengaluru. Is it?
I moved to a new city, away from family and friends. The move has been a positive one over all. Great climate, bustling life around narrow lanes, civil traffic, open minded and laid-back people are things, I have come to adore about Bangalore. Moreover, you find passers by on the road, auto drivers, domestic help and electricians that can partially converse in english. Such a thing is unheard of in Delhi and suburbs, which is where I come from. If it were to happen there, it would evoke great surprise and even joy, especially from the tens of thousands of non-hindi speaking people that moved there. But here, in Bangalore, you can get by without having to learn the local language which, by the way, is not a great idea.
But, have you ever seen a population of an entire city, nearly every single person who lived there for a while, make the same grammatical mistake? It must have been unheard of in recorded linguistic history. Not anymore. Bangaloreans love to use the tag question “is it?” to turn most statements into questions. It does not matter if the subject of the statement is a singular or plural. It does not matter if the tone of the statement is positive or negative. It does not matter what person the statement is in. There is always, surely a benign little “Is it?” sitting around the corner, blinking innocently into your evil, scary face, perhaps fulfilling a secret illicit pact it made with Bangaloreans.
You are coming. Is it? (what is the ‘it’ here?)
You are an Architect. Is it? (goes the radio jockey on air)
You can sing. Is it?
We are meeting at the Hard Rock Cafe. Is it?
Tomorrow is a holiday. Is it?
This usage is not limited solely to people who are not educated. It’s very common to find people, who graduated from good schools and colleges, where the medium of instruction is english, use it. Highly educated people, conform to this usage too. Even those, that have their doctorate theses on such fancy topics, the titles of which, 99% of general population (me inclusive), would struggle to understand.
Like people of any other city, Bangaloreans make other errors too. But, this one is their pet peeve. Everyday, I witness at least one “Is it?”. Usually, from the same set of people. Occasionally, when I talk to strangers or long lost friends, chances are, I encounter more “Is it?”‘s. When I quietly chuckle and ask them, “You have lived here for a while. Haven’t you?” they are amazed at how I could guess that, totally missing the point. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, claws in the air in a worrisome way when I am made witness to this ghastly usage. The problem is so pronounced here, that this usage is on the verge of acceptance in this city — A city that prides itself in being a literary hotbed with its popular second hand bookstores, bookworms, book clubs, upcoming and established authors.
Before it becomes common usage, if you are a Bangalorean, please stand up for the right “Is it?” and take down the wrong ones. I would not at all be worried if it was one person or a small set of people who were using this incorrectly. No, please do not get me wrong. I ask you not, to act as though your whole life is pinned on it. I ask you not, to become a grammar nazi. A little pointing out here and there would help!
Namma* : A kannada word that translates to “our”.