इंग्लिश कॉर्नर

12-May-2020 (1043)





Dear devout readers, be idiomatic in your language and cast an ever lasting effective impression .
Enjoy the joy of smooth and soothing communication. Today’s phrase is 
RSVP Respondez Sil Vous Plait.

RSVP is an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s'il vous plaît,meaning "Please respond" to require confirmation of an invitation. The initialism "RSVP" is no longer used much in France, where it is considered formal and a bit old-fashioned. In French, the complete sentence "Répondez s'il vous plaît" gives the impression the speaker is begging for an answer. In France, it is now more common to use "Réponse attendue avant le...", meaning "[Your] answer is expected before...". In addition, the French initialism "SVP" is frequently used to represent "s'il vous plaît" ("please").


11-May-2020 (188)




When in Rome...

When in Rome, do as the Romans do(often shortened to when in Rome...)is a proverb attributed to Saint Augustine. The phrase means that it is advisable to follow the conventions of the area in which you are residing or visiting.
Saint Monica and her son, Saint Augustine, found out that Saturday was observed as a fast day in Rome, where they planned to visit. However, it was not a fast day where they lived in Milan. They consulted Saint Ambrose who said "When I am here (in Milan) I do not fast on Saturday, when in Rome I do fast on Saturday." That reply is said to have brought about the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

-Ramesh Chandra Khankeriyal

10-May-2020 (206)




With most phrases it is the origin rather than the meaning that is in doubt. 'Up a gum tree' has several meanings. The most commonly used is 'in great difficulties'. Other meanings are 'in a state of contentment' or 'with great speed'.
What's the origin of the phrase 'Up a gum tree'?
up a gum tree, The phrase originated as 'like a possum up a gum tree' and interpretations of this account for the variety of meaning. The allusion is to possums escaping up trees after being chased by hounds. Depending on one's point of view the possum could be said to be either in difficulty as it couldn't escape, relaxing contentedly because the hounds couldn't catch it - either way it would probably have shown a good turn of speed up the tree in the first place.
Gum tree is the common name for the Eucalyptus in Australia and the Black Gum or Tupelo in North America.
The saying 'up a gum tree' is generally thought to be Australian. Noted etymologists like Eric Partridge list it as such. That may be so, it certainly sounds Australian, but the earliest citation of it in print I can find is from the USA, in a 1829 edition of American Speech:
"Dere's possum up de gum tree."

-Ramesh Chandra Khankeriyal

08-May-2020 (118)



Rain Check

rain check: (idiomatic) In social interactions, a polite way to turn down an invitation, with the implication one is simply postponing it and that another time would be acceptable.

I can't go with you to the museum this Saturday, but can I take a rain check and go some other day?


The expression may have originated in the era of open-air markets where the occurrence of significant rain usually required a vendor to pack up their goods and leave. The term may also be based on the issuing of tickets to claim property such as a coat or hat check. Before 1889, US baseball fans were issued a new ticket if rain was heavy enough to cause a game to be postponed. Abner Powell added a detachable stub called a rain check that year. This quickly became a standard practice for all major league teams.

rain check (on something):
a reissuance of an invitation at a later date. (Said to someone who has invited you to something that you cannot attend now, but would like to attend at a later time. *Typically: get ~; have ~; take ~; give someone ~.)

We would love to come to your house, but we are busy next Saturday. Could we take a rain check on your kind invitation? Oh, yes. You have a rain check that's good anytime you can come by and visit.

-Ramesh Chandra Khankeriyal

04-May-2020 (142)



A la carte

What's the meaning of the phrase 'A la carte'?
'A la carte' means 'on the menu', with each dish separately priced.
What's the origin of the phrase 'A la carte'?
A la carte 'A la carte' is a French term. It is one of the French phrases used in English that even those of us who don't speak French could make a stab at translating. The literal translation is 'according to the card' (the 'card' is the menu card).
The French spelling is 'À la carte' but the accent is rarely used in English.'A la carte' applies to meals that are ordered in a restaurant as separate items. Each item has a specified price, as distinct from a 'table d'hôte' meal, which has a fixed inclusive price.
The date of the earliest French usage isn't known. The expression began to be used in English in the early 19th century. The first citation I know of is Joseph Sherer's Notes and Reflections During a Ramble in Germany, 1826:
"He will find comfortable apartments, civil attendance, excellent fare, à la carte, at any hour."

-Ramesh Chandra Khankeriyal

02-May-2020 (190)


An underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sports and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose.The party, team, or individual expected to win is called the favourite or top dog. In the case where an underdog wins, the outcome is an upset. An "underdog bet" is a bet on the underdog or outsider for which the odds are generally higher.

The first recorded uses of the term occurred in the second half of the 19th century; its first meaning was "the beaten dog in a fight".

In British and American culture, underdogs are highly regarded. This harkens to core Judeo-Christian parables such as the story of David and Goliath and also ancient British legends such as Robin Hood and King Arthur, and reflects the ideal behind the American dream, where someone who is poor and/or weak can use hard work to achieve victory. Underdogs are most valorized in sporting culture, both in real events, such as the Miracle on Ice, and in popular culture depictions of sports, where the trope is omnipresent. The idea is so common that even when teams are evenly matched, spectators and commentators are drawn to establishing one side as the underdog. Historian David M. Potter explained that underdogs are appealing to Americans not because they simply beat the odds, but overcome an injustice that explains those odds - such as the game being unfairly rigged due to privilege and power.

In a story, the Fool is often an underdog if they are the main character. Their apparent ineptitude leads to people underestimating their true abilities, and they are able to win either through luck or hidden wisdom against a more powerful, "establishment" villain. An example in film is The Tramp portrayed by Charlie Chaplin.


01-May-2020 (198)

 Black Sheep   

In the English language, black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family. The term stems from sheep whose fleece is colored black rather than the more common white; these sheep stand out in the flock and their wool was traditionally considered less valuable.

The term has typically been given negative implications, implying waywardness.

In psychology, the black sheep effect refers to the tendency of group members to judge likeable ingroup members more positively and deviant ingroup members more negatively than comparable outgroup members.


This section does not cite any sources.
In most sheep, a white fleece is not caused by albinism but by a common dominant gene that switches color production off, thus obscuring any other color that may be present. A black fleece is caused by a recessive gene, so if a white ram and a white ewe are each heterozygous for black, in about 25 percent of cases they will produce a black lamb. In fact in most white sheep breeds, only a few white sheep are heterozygous for black, so black lambs are usually much rarer than this.

Idiomatic usage

The term originated from the occasional black sheep which are born into a flock of white sheep. Black wool was considered commercially undesirable because it could not be dyed. In 18th and 19th century England, the black color of the sheep was seen as the mark of the devil. In modern usage, the expression has lost some of its negative connotations, though the term is usually given to the member of a group who has certain characteristics or lack thereof deemed undesirable by that group. Jessica Mitford described herself as "the red sheep of the family", a communist in a family of aristocratic fascists.

The idiom is also found in other languages, e.g. German, French, Serbian, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Bosnian, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, Dutch, Afrikaans, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Catalan, Czech, Slovak, Romanian and Polish. During the Second Spanish Republic a weekly magazine named El Be Negre, meaning 'The Black Sheep', was published in Barcelona.


29-Apr-2020 (152)

 A New Column  


Dear Readers, 

English is no more the Queen’s language. It is today indeed a language of work and effective communication. It does not any longer carry the aspersions of our colonial past but promises the glory of international camaraderie.

This quarantine, when we are left with limited options, it’s worthwhile to hone our skills in English language by keeping ourselves abreast with Idioms and Phrases along with their etymology. An idiomatic language is always more effective.

This column shall also cater to the beginners and people who have studied through vernacular educational institutions.

it will be on the pages of Daily 'Chhattisgarh', and also on it's website. One can also get it through our whatsapp group invite which we send to readers time to time. 

Columnist is Ramesh Chandra Khankeriyal, HOD Humanities, Rajkumar College, Raipur, and Resource Person Oxford University Press for Geography and Environmental Science.