Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Words often confused and misused: 2

One of my friends wanted me to talk about the usage of the words ‘repair’ and ‘prepone’.

·       In English, we use the word ‘repair’ to mean that something is in good condition/that which was not working well has been brought back to its original good condition. We talk about a car that is in good repair.In Tamil also, we use the word correctly, in sentences such as–– கார் ரிப்பேர் செய்தாகி விட்டது.But most often, the word is used in its opposite sense. We say, கார் ரிப்பேர் ஆகி விட்டது’,  to mean, the car has broken down. This usage should be avoided.

·       The word ‘prepone’ is widely used to mean ‘a date or function has been ‘advanced’.

E.g., The meeting that was scheduled for 10th April has been preponed to 8th April.

We can easily understand how this expression came into being. Actually, it is a word coined by the Indians. The word ‘postpone’ means ‘to put off something.’

E.g., The meeting that was scheduled for 7th April has been postponed to 10th April.

The prefix ‘post’ means ‘after’ and it is used in that sense in phrases such as– post-dated checques, post-war period, post-independence era, etc.

The opposite of ‘post’ is ‘Pre’. We have expressions such as –‘pre-independence era’, ‘pre-school children’, ‘pre-teen behaviour’ etc.

A prefix should be added to a word that can make sense independently. In the examples given above, if we remove the prefix ‘post’/ ‘pre’, the rest of the word will make sense. But if we remove ‘post’ from the word ‘postpone’, what remains  (pone) will not make sense. So we cannot treat ‘ post’ as a ‘prefix’. For the same reason, we cannot add ‘pre’ as a prefix and coin the word ‘prepone’. It is better to use the word ‘advance’ in the place of ‘prepone’.

E.g. , The examinations have been advanced due to the General Elections.

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