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Friday, July 23, 2010

Testing our Language Skills - Taxis & Garner ..............

Dear (s) :                 Not all words ending with ‘s’ are plurals

Learning and mastering a language is very difficult and challenging even for those who think themselves to be well versed. For those interested in improving their skills, some basic steps would be to fine tune spelling, refine vocabulary, improve vocabulary by learning new words, mastering grammar, practicing frequently and of course sticking with the basics. The knowledge of grammar is power. Detractors would be inclined to say that it is just latin recycled to fit another language.

In any language, grammar is the body of rules describing the properties and construction of words and sentences and their usage. Now read the starting the sentence again – mostly we tend to put s or es to make the noun a plural i.e., representation of more numbers.

All of us have used taxi in our life. A taxi or taxi cab is a type of vehicle used for hire with a driver. In our younger days, all places will have a taxi stand where yellow coloured ambassador or Fiat vehicles would be standing. Those travelling for Railway stations and going to hospitals, used to hire these vehicles which had a meter fixed on them. Whether these meters were ever put to use would better be answered by those who have utilized the taxi as also auto rickshaws. Those were the days when the call taxi had not ventured in and less number of households had own cars. Cars were a luxury those days and were owned by people who were somebody in the society. It is believed that cab is an abbreviation of cabriolet, a type of horse drawn carriage, which was the earlier cousin of transport vehicle. There were horse drawn and bullock drawn carts – for long some horse driven tongas remained in front of Central station in Madras.

Whilst taxi cabs is a right usage, the word taxis is not the one to mean plural of taxis. Taxis pronounced rightly as TAK-sis (plural taxes) is an innate behavioural response by an organism to a directional stimulus or gradient of stimulus intensity. Taxis differ from tropism and is sometimes distinguished from a kinesis, a non-directional change in activity.

The common dictionary meaning of Taxis is : 1) movement of an organism towards or away from a stimulus; 2) order, arrangement or classification 3) the manual repositioning of a displaced body part to its normal position. Etymologically, taxis is derivative of Greek tassein.

Whilst that surprised me, there is another common word “Garner” which many of us use. As a verb, it means: a) to gather into storage b) to deposit c) to acquire by effort, earn, d) accumulate, collect etc.,
Commonly we would use the word granary for meaning a repository or storehouse of grain – read today that for long, garner was used as a noun meaning something that is collected. The verb part of usage came into being much later. Thus garner was earlier used to mean ‘something that is collected’ but in today’s parlance to mean to earn or to accumulate.

For Cricket buffs, Garner is the Big Bird – Joel Garner (1952) a famous fast bowler who hailed from Barbados and played for West Indies with fame. This really tall 6ft 8 in tall Bowler capable of ripping through any famed line up was part of the famous carribean quartet and played in 1983 WC also. The quartet of  pace bowlers operating in tandem {Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, Michael Holding and later with Malcolm Marshall} sliced through many batting line ups and their period was perhaps the period when Windies were simply unconquerable.


Those were the days of pace bowlers and any team touring Caribbean islands would return battered and bruised. A remarkable transformation now – when we have the top 3 wicket takers in tests in Spinners - Muthiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

Between 1977 to 87, he played 58 tests and took 259 wickets at an average closer to 20, one of the most effective bowlers. In One dayers, he took 146 in 98 and was measly giving just over 3 per over. In 1979 WC Finals, he took 5 for 39 ensuring WI victory.

Hope you liked this ` -  Do share your feedback


Regards – Sampathkumar S

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