An Indian Is, As An Indian Does…

 

We live in an interesting era. New-age Indian authors are on the rise. The market is flooding with authors churning out English books that revolve around campus fiction, contemporary fiction, murder mysteries, local everyday drama, and the commercial story sorts. They give an almost accurate picture of society as it exists today. The real and sometimes pretentious situations; the fictionally honest thoughts; and the simply elaborate settings gel remarkably to make up for fun breezy reads that (usually) are highly appreciated.
And adding awesomeness is the fact that Indian writers no longer write to impress the Western audiences / readers. They write for the masses of their own country. Hence the clichéd content, sometimes. But one of the highlights of their writing is the prolific use of “Hindi” or “Hinglish” or vernacular words /phrases that seem to register and appeal more to the readers.

A movement started by some of India’s renowned and elite authors has finely trickled down to the young authors who do complete justice to the language and its sense (and by that I mean maintain the boundaries of decency and not irk the reader).
Pick up any recent contemporary fiction offered in the last few years and you are sure to come across some of the most widely used terms. Bhagwan, Guru, jungle, chutney, bungalow, Namaste, pajamas, veranda, pundit, loot, bindaas, masala, curry, tandoor, Yoga, Mantra, Nirvana and many such every day terms no longer feel alien when seen used in an English statement.
And not just these. The liberal use of profanity too has occupied a prime spot in scripts nowadays. I don’t think anyone any longer thinks twice before using words like – saala, chor, chup, kamina, badmash, etc.

As I see it, it is a marriage of convenience. The graceful flow of a sentence beautified with the sprinkle of vernacular words that portray just the right feeling at the right time, at least to the Indian at heart. (As long as it doesn’t offend any specific language/nation/person.)
You know how satisfying it is to call someone “saala chor” than just “thief”! You can actually feel the emotion and the adrenaline rush associated with the statement.

Vernacular words seem to infuse a new life into the unadventurous simple language. It feels exotic, given the fact that India and our umpteen Indian languages are truly colorful in nature. It feels as if such generous borrowing from the Indian languages is only making the English language a bit richer. It is hard-hitting. It is effective. And it comes from the heart.

And talking about “Indianization” of words –it is a well known fact that we have proudly “chutnified” the language of the “firangis” by adding an English prefix or post fix to Indian words. Yes, that’s our beloved “Hinglish”.
If I remember right, Oxford included some eighty Indian words (including “Hinglish”) in its 11th Edition of the Concise Dictionary, recognizing the fact that the world’s third-largest English speaking community belongs to India. I’m sure constant use of other choicest words might earn them a place in the dictionary as well.

But that’s not all. Some authors indulge in literal translations (from the local dialect to English), bringing in humor to the most serious of situations. The generalized question tag (Isn’t it? Hai na? Kyu ji?); the repetitive words (take take, morning morning, madamji madamji, fast fast do); the local “lingo” (one-by-two chai, tiffin box, four –twenty (a thief/thug), band-baaja, naach-gaana) are some of the ways of making the situations more bright, cheerful and yes, close to your heart. It, after all, reflects the “Indian” character.

As someone rightly pointed out, the increased usage of Indian languages (words and phrases) is contributing significantly to changing the interface of the English language, adding spice, fun, color and variety to a truly global language. Perhaps the best is yet to come!
Till then I guess we are on the ‘write’ track folks. Just keep them, words, coming.

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1 Comment

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One response to “An Indian Is, As An Indian Does…

  1. Loved this piece – it brought a smile to my face here in grey, rainy London.

    On a related subject, here in the UK (and on Facebook in particular) we have seen a plethora of Booklists, featuring the unwaveringly excellent ‘set-texts’ of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen’s, Thackeray’s and George Eliot’s ouevre . . . all well and good, but tedious after a while. As an antidote I’ve set up a blog to showcase that many writers from elsewhere in the world, Asia, India, China, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and elsewhere are producing amazing new work in English – http://altbooklist.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/hello-world/.

    I’d welcome yours and your readers’ suggestions as to authors and their books for inclusion in the list. Let’s broaden a few horizons! 🙂

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