Big Gora Learns Hindi

Big Gora Learns Hindi

Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Director was remembering you

You might want to watch the clip posted just below--"Silencer's hilarious, mistake-ridden speech"--before reading this post. In either case, to recap the clip from the wonderful film 3 Idiots: Amir Khan's character, Rancho, decides to teach Silencer, and more importantly, their friend who has adopted Silencer's methods, a lesson. Silencer is the stereotypical academic "mugger": he spends long hours memorizing textbooks, definitions, and problems. He prioritizes rote memorization over deep learning of the material. He's also a total suck-up, so he's chosen to give an address to the student body, the university's Director, and a visiting educational minister.
Silencer's Hindi is not fluent, because he grew up in Uganda, not India. He lacks practice. So the librarian is writing his speech for him, and as you see in the clip, Silencer is simply memorizing it, not understanding. Hilarity ensues!
I want to make a point in this post about a subtle moment in the clip. To distract the librarian and get him out of the room, Rancho tells him, "Our Director was remembering you." I had a hard time, before, understanding what kind of moron would respond to that by going to visit the Director in person. I thought most people would respond, roughly: "Okay, so he was remembering me--so? Hope he's thinking positive things." But not go immediately to his office.
Now I understand it! Chapter 16 in Teach Yourself Hindi explains that the phrase याद करना [yaad karna/to do memory (literally)] has multiple meanings that make intuitive sense. These meanings include "to remember," "to learn by memory/memorize," "to think of," and--the key usage--"to summon (e.g., an employee"). So: Rancho tells the librarian two things (eliminating the others through context), intending the librarian to misunderstand him. Using the phrase याद करना, he says: "Our Director was remembering you" and, "Our Director was summoning you." The Director is a hard man to please, as we know quite well by this time in the film, so of course the librarian runs straight to his office.
Mystery solved!

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