Not all of us find situations which potentially become the truest examples of old idioms, statements or lessons we heard as a child. I was fortunate enough today. After that little incident happened, I just wanted to write about it as soon as possible so I’m typing this from the place that is the library itself, I’ll publish it later from my laptop.
So, a few minutes ago, I was sitting in the library while my roommate sat across me and I heard a faint calling, somewhere around me, an argument was taking place and believe it or not, I’m all for arguments so much that I cannot avoid eavesdropping into one. So, the argument was as follows…
Girl1: Why do people say ‘a year’ when it’s clearly ‘an year’?
Girl2: Isn’t it ‘a year’?
Girl3: Haan yaar¹, it’s a Year. (Pardon the Hinglish, but that is how everyone talks here in India. I’ll explain all the words in the endnote.)
Meanwhile, everyone around was having their own version of Is it an Year or a Year? and so we joined in while I listened more. Girl1 goes on to explain further
Girl1: It isn’t the first letter yaar, it’s the sound that matters. For example, in the word Honest, the sound of o comes first tabhi² it’s written as ‘an honest person’. Similarly, it’s ‘an year’ and not ‘a year’.
Although she was right on her logic she was wrong on her facts that the pronunciation of year and ear are different. She was totally right in saying it’s ‘an year’ if year was pronounced the same as ear but as it turns out, year has a totally different pronunciation.
The above was a beautiful, live example of the famous phrase,
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
This little incident really made me think whether we can really assume that what we are saying is correct based on how less often someone opposes us or knows more than us in that particular domain. It’s the naïvety of our nature to assume that we’re foremost. I didn’t correct the girl for I didn’t know her and, I didn’t want to sound like an intrusive jerk who (in this scenario) ironically, shows his knowledge off.
P.S. While I was searching for an appropriate quote for the featured image of this post, I learned that this famous phrase is actually a misquote from An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope and that the true meaning got lost when someone used it out of context. Nevertheless, although it was misinterpreted, it became a lesson for all future generations to come.
²tabhi: which is why / then