English Bites is a non-fictional biographical novel that is both amusing and hilarious. It is about every individual who was/is intimidated by the foreign language and how to go about not only understanding and learning it, but also speaking it fluently.
Author, Manish Gupta, was not only intrigued by the way (some) people spoke fluent English, but was also in awe of them. Soon, he began to take notes, read a lot, jot down new words, try and find their meanings and try and use them in day-to-day conversations. This is how we are taught to learn this foreign language, almost all over India. Except that it is tedious, time-consuming and a very slow process of learning. But, these hindrances were not a deterrent for Manish, for he religiously followed this method. Result? The result of the hard-work put in by him is English Bites.
The novel starts as Manish enters P.E.C, Chandigarh and is intimidated by the fluent speakers of English. He wants to be like them and thus starts his affair with the language. He reads, he learns, he watches, he converses, he notices and he imbibes them too. In his journey of Engineering, along with the course studies, he also learns (and teaches us) many new words of the language English. He also manages to grab a job because of his English only.
The rest of the book is about his journey through his job, his management studies, his search for a medico spouse (to sustain the balance at home) and his two beautiful children. Actually, the book is about all the new words he encounters at different stages of his life, about how he keeps learning new and new words all through his life, about the origins of the words, their history, their evolution of usage, their various meanings under different contexts and about how to remember them.
He talks about mnemonics, about Engineering, about wheels, about management studies, about stock exchanges, about etymology, pronunciations, isograms, palindromes, wheels, roads, aeroplanes, hotels, history of beverages, origins of the names of beverages and certain dishes, about marriage, pregnancy, all kinds of doctors and the origins of the names of their specialities, rhymes and their meanings. Yeah, in short, he talks about everything that we come across in our day-to-day life.
He surprises us with such meanings, trivia and tidbits about the origins and history of certain words that it is not only amusing but also (sometimes) baffling. English is a language that has evolved a lot and it has borrowed a lot from various languages. Thus, it is impossible to ever learn ‘English totally.’ One can only keep learning and keep updating all his life, says the author.
Just like the author promises, this book is for everybody, irrespective of whether one is a student aspiring to crack competitive exams, an employee, a parent, or just a language-lover, there is something for everyone. Reading the book will definitely be an enlightening experience, easily adding a few hundred words to your vocabulary.
The best part of the novel are the footnotes, where meanings are provided for many words. It helps a lot because one doesn’t have to open a dictionary every time (which is very taxing) to know their meanings as they are provided right at the bottom of every page.
This book is to be devoured and not rushed through. Reading a few pages at a time and then trying to imbibe the new words learnt in our daily conversations would make us speak fluent English without us having to make a great effort.
It is a must-read. As it is both informative and entertaining.