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Move over, OED

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 02:03 IST
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Every time a new edition of a well-known English dictionary is released, we Indians gloat over the way we have infiltrated the English language with desi words. But what the dictionary-wallahs do not do is a follow-up of the use to which certain English words are put in a variation of Hinglish.
I think it all started with the All India Radio and, in a different context, with cricket commentators. For instance, it is now first inning (singular) but second innings (plural). It is no longer bowling, it is balling, in Hindi as well as in English. AIR was the first to refer to all wrongdoers, from schoolboys bunking school to terrorists, as ‘miscreants’ who always indulge in ‘untoward incidents’. By a remarkable coincidence, they always commit their untoward incidents in ‘the wee hours’.

In the last few days, all rivers have been ‘in spate’. With Lebanon and the rest, Bom-bers have been bom-bing the place — apparently no one has told our newscasters that the second B is silent. And of course, there are all those ‘aircrafts’ carrying out the bom-bings as well.

For further information on these subjects one can always refer to the officials at embassies. Our reporters and newscasters always find that their best bet is with the Council-Generals of these diplomatic set-ups, the Consul-Generals having gone underground for some time. One can hardly blame them.

Can one forget the little boy who fell down a well in Kurukshetra? The cause of the elaborate TV-worthy rescue exercises was, as one reporter explained, the fact that the diameter of the well was “very less”. This is why the ‘po-liss’ could do nothing and the army had to be called in.

I am very disappointed that the new dictionary still does not have the word tamasha, I am more intrigued by its explanation of ‘balti’. It is defined as “a spicy Pakistani dish that is cooked in a small two-handled pan”. A tiny footnote says: Origin Urdu, ‘pall’. Well, we live and learn.

As a footnote I would like to add that Indians are also changing the gender needs of the English language.  Some of our national English dailies seem to have reporters with a sound grounding in Hindi and Urdu, who solve their gender problems accordingly.  Thus a person might complain about his father (unka baap), but never about her mother (unki ma). And why not?