The Death of a Language


A few days ago while I was filling a form in a bank, a woman came to me asking for help to “phill a pharam”. She seemed a nice lady andBH9znWFCUAA8Q5r I was not going to judge her based on her language skills or rather lack of it. But the address she gave me was quite extraordinary. The writing on the sheet of paper said “I gee earpot”, and it took me a while to decipher that those strange words stood for IGI Airport.

Recently, I was at a blogger’s meet and introductions were going on.  When a young girl got her chance, she grabbed the microphone excitedly and said, “Hai guiz! I vaas vary dasparate to gib mai intrauducsion. Maisalf ____ I am a blagger but-u….” It reminded me of a message I had once received on Facebook – “Hai!!! r u2 frm Panjab!!! Tell no pliz pliz!!!!”

All this made me think.  Did we at any point in time declare a vendetta against the English language? I pondered over the question and tried to connect it with History, to come up with an explanation.

The History books and various documentaries on the History Channel tell us, that the British ruled over India for more than two hundred years. It was a blot on our History; to be enslaved by foreign invaders. Well it was one of the several blots but this one sort of hurt the most. The Indians, I believe, decided to take revenge for the humiliation they had suffered. And no, the conquest of Southall was not part of the plan. We had to do something; we had taken over Cricket but that was not enough. We had to attack the English where it would hurt them the most……we had to shake their very foundation. So apparently, we decided to destroy their language.

It was a tough task at hand. This was the language that had truly unified the otherwise divided nation. The colonial hangover had lingered for quite a long time after independence. The big sahibs sent their kids to English schools and the voice of the masses was not that prominent. The newspapers wrote immaculate English and were a treat to the cognoscente.  

And then the Internet entered the Indian market and life. This tool gave us the required technical know how to launch a direct attack. English was already reeling under a continuous barrage of SMS lingo (which was all thanks to the 140 character limit). Before it could stand in defiance, the Indians joined Orkut. Each scrap, each request “to do/make frandsheep”, each “naise” and each “u luk hawt/kool” was a nail in the coffin of the English language. In the words of the honourable Ravi Shastri, “The nails went through the coffin like a tracer bullet.” 

The mass population now had a voice. Media became social and was not a prerogative of a few. In the Information Age, Indians 3066316_700bmade use of all available channels to carpet bomb the English. The Times of India was now an English version of Punjab Kesari. Hindustan Times was bought by bachelors and auto-wallahs who used the photos in HT City to decorate their bathroom walls and auto-rickshaws respectively. The Hindu was the only remaining newspaper that still hung on to grammar, but its effect was limited to Tamil Nadu and IAS aspirants. Tamil Nadu for the majority of my North Indian readers, according to your taste in political parties, food and gossip is (you can choose one or more options) –

  • The state near Ram Setu
  • Where Rajiv Gandhi was killed
  • Idli, Dosa, Sambhar and Vada (And everything Coconut)
  • Rajnikanth!

The Indian Express and Tribune remained too, but really who gives a shit? Anyway, I digress. With the level of English going down like a cheap porn-star, the Indians had won the first battle.

Those who still had some value for the language were now running to Facebook, Twitter and WordPress  But the renewed brigade of avengers had smelt blood. They were commenting on YouTube.  Facebook fell and with it came a tsunami of “Frand requests” and status updates that made no sense. And now they were at the doors of Blogging. With Google making it easier for everyone to open, connect with and follow other blogs, Blogspot was the ideal choice. They were hunting like a pack with each member watching the other’s back. WordPress remained the last bastion for grammatically correct English but sadly that too fell. 

3571130_700b-003In this battle, Indians got help from three unexpected places – the Americans, the Cats and Inzamam-ul-haq. Despite being a majorly English speaking country, the USA had itself been waging a guerrilla war on spellings and pronunciation. The rap lyrics had destroyed much of the words and with the auto spell check in MS Office and mobiles, they had defeated the British spellings. The reason for the enmity between the Cats and the British is still a mystery. According to experts the two had been having a one-upmanship competition on who is more apathetic. This competition has been on since the day man first tried to domesticate cats. The Cat attack began in 2006 from 4chan. They created memes that went viral and within days Social Media was full of “I can haz moar cheezberger” shares.

The Indian offensive was further strengthened by the arrival of Kangana Ranaut and Rakhi Sawant. Rakhi’s “Oh Jejus!” and Kangana’s “Bleddy Busterdz!” were two war-cries that rallied the troops like never before. Boot camps were started throughout the country that took in normal citizens and converted them into battle ready soldiers within weeks. The trained soldier had the same pronunciation and mastery of grammar as before, just that now he had more words in his vocabulary to destroy and confidence to do it. The blind were leading the blind.

7017644_700b-001

“Good Maarning” became a regular greeting and “Budday”wishes were being sent on Facebook. All the Unkills, Unteez, Brudahs and Sistahs were now united as one to destroy the Ingliss language once and for all. LOL and its variations (eg ROFL, ROFLMAO, LMAO etc) became noun, verb, adjective, article, adverb, pronoun, conjunction, idiom depending on the person using it and the situation. It became LOLZZZZ, where you laughed so much that you fell asleep. And then it became LULZZ. Bollywood made phrases like “Fanxx yall” and “All of yall” kewl. C and K were now swappable. So were S & Z, Th & D, F and Ph etc. Priyanka Chopra sang about life in her “Citteh” and this style of pronunciation became the in thing for all the young “Kittehs”.

We had Wine shops that promised to serve “Child Bear”. Roadside dhabas served all types of “Vag and Naan Vag Snakes”. “BarBar” shops for your hair cutting needs. A “Fuckilty” of Engineering. The words were shortened and mispronounced. The SMS lingo was a self-goal that would always haunt the English.

550622_10151293461831018_790952026_nMy own timeline was now part of this battle field. I had someone share a “Spacial album for those spacial momentz” and another person claimed to be “Da awl stah……..supahstah” or something similar. The very first time I read such a phrase, it baffled me. The Education survey declared that the “Isskool going population” was on a rise. English literature died in India the day Bubblegum Romance became a bestseller genre. The British tried to save the remnants of their once proud language. But Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth, etc. were already spinning like a top in their respective graves. Hardy, well he was always far from the maddening crowd.

Everyone in India was delirious with joy. They had defeated the greatest enemy of Indian culture and Akhand Bharat. The English had again given us a reason to unify. For a moment in History we were one, before going back again to regionalism and regional politics.

All the novels in the house are being fed to a raging bonfire as I type these words. The English language is officially dead in India. The regional languages had already died the day we began to feel ashamed to use them. Grammar died, articulation died and phonetics committed seppuku. 

Language is dead, long live Language!  3571130_700b

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Comments
10 Responses to “The Death of a Language”
  1. Raywalker says:

    Well, well, well. You are welcome within our ranks.
    Oh, and a very interesting take!
    -A fellow Language Activist

  2. Writerzblock says:

    Brilliant Snow Leopard!! I happened to mention something on these lines on another forum and some people found it offensive! Not the language but the fact that I pointed out that ‘what did you ate’ and ‘did you knew’ were incorrect and a complete put-off!!! Sigh!!! I didn’t knew that it ij rude to camment on diz.

  3. purbaray says:

    Aussie land is no better..Cafes serve icey coffee and someone wanted a bigger roll in the organization.

  4. Rachna says:

    English is dead, and Hindi is also dying a slow death. Perhaps, we have a new brand of English called “gibberish English” that means everything goes in the name of English. Recently someone commented Nyc post. It took me time to understand they meant nice and not New York city. Looks like slowly our brains will get wired to autocorrect this nonsense or we will go mad reading about buddays. Fake accents are really in with youngsters these days. Really desperate and wannabe!

  5. Rickie says:

    Hah! I knew we were on some kind of a mission! There can be no other explanation for why English is on such a deadly spiral in this country!
    And, to add, the ‘English’ blogosphere is our nuclear weapon!

  6. metherebel says:

    Some time back the guy who my family was keen on getting me married to, messaged me ‘I for you reject means for you no problem’. I fainted after reading this! It took me 2 days to regain my senses 🙂

  7. Amit says:

    There is a murderer in my own family. My sistah’s messages on Facebook sometimes provoke me to go and shake her up. I think we are evolving and the language is shifting. I wonder how our novels would look like in the next 100 years.

  8. BhavanaDiary says:

    Serves them and their language right for colonizing us, ‘looting us’, and continously ‘destroying our indian culture’ by influencing our younsters with their atrocious western erm..erm,,. ‘no culture’ lifestyle. hah!

  9. Chrs says:

    You will undoubtedly enjoy this classic BBC TV comedy sketch from 1976.

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