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‘Whoa, that’s imba, dude!’

Hear that. “Dig my wicked bling? Catch ya at the new club tonite. Believe it’s imba!” Meher Marfatia on the new buzz words in youth’s argot.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2008 17:36 IST
Meher Marfatia
Meher Marfatia
Hindustan Times

Hear that. “Dig my wicked bling? Catch ya at the new club tonite. Believe it’s imba!” Ten years ago this exchange between two teens would have run something like: “Hey, how are you? Like my glitzy rings? See you at the new club tonight. It’s super!” ‘Imba’? Short for imbalance, this means ‘great.’ Balance can’t be good, but imbalance is.

Word watch
News wafts in from London. Moving with the age, monarchy, along with the empire, is on its way out in the latest Oxford Junior Dictionary. Not without taking along the bishop, the chapel, the carol, saint and sinner.

These words have been replaced with ‘in’ phrases like broadband, blog, MP3 player, voicemail, chat room, attachment and database.

Toddlers cut their teeth on cyber-tech jargon today. Column centimetres in the dictionary are also reserved for entries which reflect the gritty times kids are now growing up in. This explains: conflict, common sense, debate, EU, bilingual, vandalism, boisterous, interdependent, celebrity and citizenship.

Say yup to..
The 10,000-word edition aims to mirror a modern, multicultural, multi-faith society in mood and attitude. What would Mumbai youngsters want in such a compilation?

Everything they like is declared ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’, of course. But peer pressure rules the 11- to 18-year-olds’ group. Conformity, loneliness and the desperation to keep up with one another are pet peeves. Class X student Zara Rustomji’s votes go to ghetto words: homies, wingman (sidekick kind of buddies), facebook, freakazoid, myspace, whoa, wicked (as in ‘cool’) and sweet (as in ‘awesome’). A burst of feminism makes her add ‘dudette’.

Twelve-year-old Shariq Sanghvi would enjoy seeing printed: whatever, whacko, weirdo, zillion, yummy and dufus. College fresher Camille Framroze prefers: yo, sketch (from ‘sketchy’, someone creepy) and tool (an easy-to-manipulate person).

Seventeen-year-old Aneesh Menon supplies earthier local lingo gems. If ‘shit’ is bad, ‘the shit’ is the opposite. A slick car, restaurant or hangout joint is ‘just the shit’, get it? Any fluke shot scored in a game is matka and a loser is naram paav!

Thumbs down to..
Quite a few words have been discarded by Mumbai’s Gen Next. Topping the Dump ’Em list are: alas, agog, hogwash, extol, entreat, thus, plethora, poise, pinafore, propriety and spinster.

Large words, judgmental words and those of hierarchy seem hard to handle. So out go: cumbersome, fanciful, fastidious, foolhardy, mendacious and oligarchy.

Pulls and pressures throw kids towards the lashing cadences of words which reveal raw wounds. Bullet-point. Cyber-stalker. Meltdown. Lay-off. These hyphened horrors sound scary because they totally are. Coolio. Chillax. Welcome to the brave new word.

First Published: Dec 30, 2008 11:59 IST