Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Yo! It's slang time

Epiphanies have a tendency of occurring when you're sleepless, miffed and have a bird's nest for your hair or may be its just me. I was on an international flight recently, which much to my dismay, had turned into the likes of a chain smoker, taking numerous breaks from flying every few hours. Between trying to meet my movie target for the year, food that seemed flavored with sedatives and countless security checks at every stop, somewhere on the Asian skies, the in-flight instructions seamlessly changed from English to Hindi. That's when it hit me. Hindi, our beloved national language, the language that unites us, the language that we binge on, the language our moral police swears by, needs a few new interesting and may I add, young, entrants.

I jolt awake as "deviyon" and "sajjano" felt on my unwary ears. Trust me there wasn't one single devi (me included; I pride in having no self delusions) on that flight and you can forget about sajjano. I gave 'em all a good look so I know. Just us mortals. I get the respect element that's characteristic of the culture but come on! Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if it could get updated to something more colloquial and modern? It doesn't go with the red mini skirt and red lips uttering those words anyways. Then there’s "kursi ki peti". 'Seatbelt' and 'kursi ki peti' are reminiscent of an old hindi movie, twins separated at birth, one slick and one downtrodden. "Samaan kaksh" for overhead compartments is a whole different ballgame. It reminds me of a secretive room in a grand Mughal palace overflowing with gold and silver coins and precious pearls. "Kripya" gets the same verdict; too heavy duty to be used for a cushy request to lift window shades. It should be reserved to plead to deities for getting away with murder or something. Strangest of all, "electric upkaran". I mean, if you've taken the plunge, might as well go all the way.

No offense intended but I say we learn a thing or two from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) which is ever so evolving, adding new words to reflect effervescent changes in society and language. Words added to OED in the recent past, believe it or not, include bouncebackability, lookism, cyberslacking, threequel and blamestorming.

Internet and mobile messaging have drastically changed languages introducing a whole new set of popular jargons and abbreviations that form the Urban dictionary. Social media has taken this to another level now making it a way of life. As the Cheetah Girls once sang, "one world, one heart, one song, now and forever". One song, it should be.

I don't mean to imply that we go all out like Cebu Pacific Air (from the Philippine's) and get their hostesses to dance to Lady Gaga's while demonstrating in-flight safety instructions. But if there was a test, I bet those traveling on Cebu Pacific would prove to be a more attentive lot. Just saying.


Natasha said...


Parul said...

Super funny! Now what I really want to see is your spin on modernizing these colloquial hindi inflight announcements.:) Care to share a sample? ;)

Pari said...

Thanks so much ladies :) @Parul - no clue. I think that should be the job of rashtriya hindi sansthan or sthng, no? :p

eAnjali said...

Pari, this is funny for sure. Though have to say I am stickler for purity of language. I just don't like the Zee TV newscast kind of lingo---'hinglish' they call it? BHASHA KI SHUDDHTA MEIN HI BHASHA KI SARTHAKTA HAI, otherwise all the world will speak just one language and whither then, will good old multi-culturalism go?