Haves and Have Nots
I’m HAVING a doubt!!! or as I’d actually like to say, ‘I have a doubt’….
Before I get to that burning question, some trivia about my formative years: –
English is not my native language. My mother tongue is Marathi and more than 40% of my spoken communication throughout the day is in Marathi, around 10-15% in Hindi and only the rest is in English. My medium of instruction was English however, and this has created some sort of a delusional gratification that my understanding of English is better than an average English-speaking Indian’s.
I studied in an English medium school, where most of the teachers would speak more in Marathi than in English, till we reached class 8. The result was half baked instruction in both the languages. None of my batch mates and I can claim of superior writing / conversational skills in either of the languages and nor would we be in a position to quote more than a handful authors / poets from these languages. Our knowledge of English literature would be bad enough, but of Marathi literature, it definitely would be worse.
Nevertheless, with whatever limited knowledge I have of either of the languages, I tend to notice what I deem as plausible mistakes in others’ speech and writing. It irritates me to no end when someone makes mistakes (according to me) in their spoken/written grammar and pronunciation. (Here, someone will point out to me that it should read as “mistakes in his/her spoken/written grammar and pronunciation’ and I’d accept that. Though I can argue for and still retain ‘their)’ . Anyways. All this sense of superiority notwithstanding, I have been put in my place and subjected from time to time to proof reading and frequent remarks about how I miss my articles and host of other errors by my boss and some other higher level human beings.
So, when I come across such usages of the language/s as I deem errors, my outburst is limited to my thoughts, unless I know the speaker/writer well. There is always that nagging doubt about being in error myself, which would make my own position hilarious in front of those whose language I’d be planning to find fault with 🙂
Well, coming to the doubt that I was HAVING….
Use of present progressive form of HAVE. Time and again, I read business descriptions that I receive from my clients. Every second such description uses HAVE in the following manner:
“The company is having more than 3 decades of presence in retail/EPC/insert any other business”. or…”Mr ABC, the promoter is having an experience of 28 years in this field”…or…”Our company is having talent pool of 25/125/1025 engineers etc”….
These sentences make my insides boil. I dont know who to take out my anger on and so I spend my evenings at home quizzing my folks and waiting for them to give out an incorrect answer 🙂 yeah, I dont have hobbies 🙂
Initially, I thought this phenomenon was limited to Maharashtrians, though there is no perfect word in Marathi for ‘is/are having’. I still tend to take writer for a Marathi manoos if I come across such sentences. I have however, come across such usages made by a lot of non-Maharashtrians too. In fact, that was what made me google ‘is having’ up, though it was futile.
I always believe that ‘is having’ as a present progressive should be used when an action is happening at that exact point in time – viz, He is having a cup of coffee/She is having a bad day. Something which is a rule / a continuous process requires present perfect tense – as in – The company has a presence / The promoter has some experience /She has holiday on Mondays etc. But these days, I come across such a rampant use of ‘is having’ that I believe that the rules are changing / have changed.
Of course, I do appreciate the fact that the purpose of a language is communication. Grammar is secondary. As far as the sender and the receiver of the message are on same page, the grammar should not matter when it comes to the larger picture. Languages have evolved from ‘vocal calls’ etc. So the languages existed long before the grammar rules were set. The order of the day is not same as what the correct usage was 100 years ago. In an era where the communication takes place in form of alpha numeric text messages (C U L8er etc), we cannot be too certain that any language (esp English) in its current form will remain for even next 2-3 decades. Still, I do hope to find some answer to the doubt that I AM HAVING… ughhh….