Random Forays | Gentlemen, please mind your language!

A Hindi-speaking young man from a rural or urban background can verily hold his own in the board rooms of corporate India today. So can a young lady, perhaps even more

columns Updated: Oct 29, 2017 15:19 IST
Language,north India
The male professional needs to be able to modify a natural tendency to use “unparliamentary” language.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The new-age young professional has to be extremely savvy about his conduct. There is no point in being appointed as the CEO of a large company through sheer brilliance at one’s work, if one cannot carry himself with dignity.

Being dignified does not mean being anglicised. A Hindi-speaking young man from a rural or urban background can verily hold his own in the board rooms of corporate India today. So can a young lady, perhaps even more. But the male professional needs to be able to modify a natural tendency to use “unparliamentary” language.

If one analyses the way young lads are brought up in India, and indeed across the world, there is a likelihood that each boy would have picked up cuss words that are unacceptable in decent company. These expletives would probably have become a part of his normal speech. In North India, for example, there are some “bad” words that are entirely ingrained in the local dialect. Men and boys use them all the time, but usually refrain from doing so when at home. Thus, a visit to the local market and some keen listening sessions would doubtlessly educate the uninitiated into the whole range of abuses that have been used for decades across the land!

The problem arises when men start using such expressions on a train or at a café, within earshot of families. Words that can be loosely classified as “BC” words — for want of a better classification — are bandied about much too virulently by the male members of our society. Being “one of the boys” is fine, and we have all been part of groups wherein such language was eminently acceptable, but grown up behaviour has to be suitably subtle in any cultured social milieu.

Our films are no better these days. The trend started with the arty types of movies which were perceived to be made by better filmmakers and thus, the protagonists had the ‘licence to swear’. Several so-called mainstream films followed suit while greater permissiveness crept into the society as well. The female lead would also be heard at times using filthy language that no one really wanted to hear.

And when one extends the argument to the overall conduct of men in the company of women or in public, the scenario becomes clearer. Urinating in public and scratching the crotch in full public view are still a part of our visual landscape! While the former may be necessitated by the lack of public outlets, the latter is simply a feature of unpolished upbringing.

There is a need though, to draw a fine line between behaviour that is obviously due to a background of ignorance and characteristics which can easily be done away with if one makes the effort.

At a recent conference, one of the speakers on stage somehow found it convenient to use the word ‘shit’ many a time in his speech. While there is nothing earth shattering these days about such usage, there are obviously some platforms where one can indulge in such usage, and others where one can definitely not. Our man found this out to his dismay when the elderly chairman of the session actually pointed this fact out to him at the end of the session - on the mike!

The crux of the matter is that men have to learn how to behave in the public eye and when others are in earshot. It is all fine to get together with the pals from college over a drink and go wild, but one has to train oneself to carry oneself with grace and poise in society.

Thus, even if the F-word has become the norm in many young communities — and even females of the species use it — there is no way in which it can be used ad nauseum at other forums.

Even if one does not deliberately discuss leering and gaping in this piece, they too form a part of the obnoxious nature of many males. As an internet quote puts it, rather directly, “No one gives a shit about your righteous beliefs. Your behaviour is what makes you the person you are!”

(The author can be contacted at vivek.atray@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 15:18 IST