The English Colonial (1)
December 12, 2012 14 Comments
Just this morning at work, we had a bit of a scuffle over language. Well, I say scuffle. My colleagues are mostly too darling to get into one of those. Honest ideological debates blazing righteous jargon and statistics, yes. Certainly. Twice before lunch, if you like. Scuffly fightypaws, not so much.
This morning’s first contention was ‘skejool’. In a flow, my boss said, “We will finalise the schedule… I mean, the skejool, and then mail you the details, all right?”. “Would you mind terribly if we stick to ‘schedule’?”, I asked, big puppy eyes. “No no”, he said. “Not at all! I’d really much rather. But isn’t ‘skedewl’ or ‘skejool’ what everybody says these days?”
And there’s the catch right there. Everybody’s says new stuff, because everybody else, apparently, is saying it too. When we were in school, we tried that tack often to wriggle out of old-school ‘disciplining’: ‘But miss, my friend/everyone was doing it too!’. ‘Miss’, however, would merely fix us with a Look (sometimes one of suppressed delight), and say, “If everybody jumped off a building, would you jump off one too? If your friends bit a mad dog, would you bite a mad dog too? Don’t talk back and hold out your palm!”. And that was that.
Such misses, alas, are in short supply these days, and hence ‘schedules’ are fast shifting to ‘skejool’, ‘maths’ to ‘math’, ‘mobile phones’ to ‘cell phones’ — and so on, and so forth — with no real reason except that other people, people with fairer skin than ours, say them such. The conversation, therefore, simmered a good ten minutes in the hot Old Colonisation vs. New Colonisation debate, before branching off into the tragedy that is the evolution of Hindustani — the musical, poetic, accessible Hindustani — into the stilted, inorganic ‘Sanskritised’ Hindi and Persianised Urdu. Words to the tune of ‘jumped-up’, ‘pompous’, ‘pretentious’, ‘arriviste’ and ‘slave-mentality’ were liberally used.
In the end, we all decided we needed a cup of tea.
Couple of hours later, strolling idly through online dictionaries in an effort to stave off meeting a deadline, I discovered that while ‘pompous’, ‘pretentious’, ‘arriviste’ and so on were adequately addressed by the archive, thesaurus.com — whose default spellings are American — defines ‘jumped-up’ thus: “move upwards; ascend”. Amongst the synonyms it offers are: ‘climb’, ‘boost’, ‘disappear’, ‘pick up’, ‘soar’, and ‘vanish’.
Dear gods in heaven. Talk about an illustrative example.