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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The past IS another country!

Adil Najam & Owais Mughal never cease to amaze me for the sheer range of topics they manage to cover at any given time. It really is All Things Pakistan! I am truly delighted to see Politically Incorrect or a Funny Ad? featured immediately after Iftikhar Chaudhry Reinstated: What Now? Since the CJ is being written about everywhere, I don't think I could add much to it, other than this: I'll be impressed by the 'true independence' of the judiciary when the reinstated CJ feels neither pressured by a khisiana president nor by the Sharifs' demand for returning favours and does not reverse the judicial order against them, if he genuinely feels that upholding it would be right. Now to the ad and ATP post that prompted me to write. (Actually, this was also a form of of procrastination, given the pile of work that lies before me.) But do visit the ATP post first. Done? Ok. After the flood of 'Fair & Lovely' - from its very name to all its implications and the horrifying ads - nothing seems politically incorrect. (Although political correctness, itself, often goes ridiculously far: Dwarfs are 'vertically challenged'? Gimme a break!!!)

I have mentioned this in some other post, but it's worth repeating: Fair & Lovely lists Pakistan's Armed Forces as its largest purchaser! Does the enemy have any chance after that?
My tangential objection, however, is to the Urdu[?]: Gharayloo-o-Office? Even a pageful of 'aaarghs' wouldn't express what I feel. 'Vaao' for 'and', as we dying purists will hold, should - strictly speaking - be used only to connect two Urdu words (generally, though not always, nouns) that are of Persian or Arabic origin. Vahm-o-Gumaañ and Saum-o-Salaat are fine. Chaabi-o-Taala is a no-no! This applies to not just Hindi examples, like the one above, but also to words and phrases from other languages that have gained acceptability in Urdu: Computer-o-Monitor? Nopes! No English. Just Faarsi-o-Arabi. Which is not the same as Persian-o-Arabic! However, Gharayloo-o-Office sinks the misuse to a really low depth. It even sounds horrible! I know, I know. Some of you are saying 'language changes' and this old man is clinging to a past with no sensible reason. Ok. So maybe it is a personal quirk. But, then, this is a personal blog. (Owais/Adil, this is why I did not comment on ATP). Perhaps I represent a generation that still clings to some of what we thought were the niceties of the past. I am reminded of 3 Urdu lines that I always recall with delight. They'll also serve to better show you where - as they'd say in the changed language of today - 'I am coming from'. All 3 examples are quoted from memory, so they are not verbatim. All refer to the period immediately after 1947: The first is from the famous Khwaja Mueenuddin play Laal Qilay Say Lalukhet Tak. The young hero informs his father "baagh mayñ kavvay chahchahaa rahay haeñ". The shocked Nawab saahab says, indignantly, "Chahchahaa rahay haeñ? Jab maeñ mar jaaooñ ga to 'peehooñ peehooñ' karayñ gay?" The second is from the inimitable pen of Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi. Describing his horror after a visit to a singing girl in Karachi's Napier Road, once this city's only 'red-light' district (ab to har mo∂ par chiraaghaañ hae!), a character in his book says: "Üss kambakht ka talaffüz to üss kay kirdaar say bhi ziaadah kharaab niklaa!" The third, perhaps less remembered, has a particular reference to Karachi's street Urdu, influenced, as it then was, by Bombay-vaalaas and the Gujratis. Majeed Lahori, who edited Namakdaan and gave us such wonderful characters as Ramzani (the Everyman), proverbial seths Tube Jee & Tyre Jee (a reference to Tayyab Ji & Taahir Ji), and Fraudsons (representing business groups that had sprung up overnight), was also a prolific humourous poet. His collection, Kaané Namak, desperately needs a re-printing. This couplet is part of one of his more popular ghazals:
Paan mayñ choona jaastee maaro
Kitnee sheereeñ zabaan haé, pyaaray
(At the Shanaakht Festival to be held at the Karachi's Arts Council in early April I hope to share some of Majeed Lahori's work , along with that of other humourous poets.)
Such reactions about language are not common only among those who cling to Urdu. When publicity posters for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" were plastered in London's Tube Stations, they claimed (in correct grammar and with an obvious reference to the popular line of the McCarthy era: The Russians Are Coming!): "The Birds is coming! The Birds is coming!". This was, obviously, too much for some (pigmentally challenged?) Englishman who scrawled across several of them: "And good English is wenting!"

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10 Comments:

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

In the latest issue of the Indian edition of Reader's Digest, there is an article about wrong usage like 'Anyways' that is fast becoming an accepted part of 'Indian English'.

Unfortunately, the article is not available online.

18 March, 2009 13:02

 
Anonymous e said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this one Sir. To me purity of language is a question of attitude - how important it is to one; whether one cares at all or couldn't care less, if one is bothered to make the effort, or sab chalta hai boss

18 March, 2009 13:50

 
Blogger Zakintosh said...

@siddhusaaheb: No great loss. Can't stand Reader's Disgust!

@e Thanks, Esquire.

18 March, 2009 14:23

 
Anonymous Anees said...

zakintosh, you made my day with this blog.
as for ranj-o-gham etc i may add that a combined word also should be of the same language but we all call bread Double Roti which was initially introduced by portuguese as "paon" in goa.
i think it is as wrong or bad as "gharayloo-0-office"

18 March, 2009 17:16

 
Blogger Fawad Zakariya said...

Zak, this was a great post. In my (not so young anymore) generation I find myself a rather lonely voice for a semi-proper usage of language. I am often dismissed as a crank.

Your examples are delightful but "ab to har mod par chiraghaaN hai" had me in stitches. The other impulse after reading your post is to rush to my Yusufi collection for a re-read. I am particularly thinking of "Baare Aloo ka kuch bayaN ho jaye" in which the Punjabi-isms of the proprietor of "Hotel Haaza" are sublime.

18 March, 2009 23:35

 
OpenID phaixa said...

well i personally is in no position to criticize the gharailoo-o-aafice guy.
i realized i frequently use 8 of the 10 most irritating phrases myself !

19 March, 2009 15:46

 
Blogger Neena said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

27 March, 2009 06:56

 
Blogger Neena said...

Free media doesn't mean you can say hateful things about others, we need to do something about these clowns and especially when they call themselves part of "think tank".

27 March, 2009 06:58

 
Blogger Shabbir V.S said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this one Sir. To me purity of language is a question of attitude - how important it is to one; whether one cares at all or couldn't care less, if one is bothered to make the effort, or sab chalta hai boss

09 April, 2009 11:58

 
Anonymous ramsu6@gmail.com said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this one Sir. To me purity of language is a question of attitude - how important it is to one; whether one cares at all or couldn't care less, if one is bothered to make the effort, or sab chalta hai boss

09 April, 2009 11:59

 

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