Language and sophistication

Language plays a significant role in sophistication. In the link here, an english actress describes how she played a prank on a friend of hers by placing a bit of chocolate in between the persons buttocks while he was sleeping. Everybody on the set here is very glamorous, well dressed, well spoken, famous actors, this is a 5- minutes bit to show the british and the world public what it is like to be glamourous. The english the lady speaks is delightful to hear, such is the draw of her expression, that one finds the otherwise silly and even stupid story, charming. The expressions used in the middle like “and yet I was still after the rush of doing it”, “and then the horror horror horror”, “and it just sort of unfurled so well”, “no but I loved them dearly but”, “oh…Kate you’ve put chocolate in my bottom” render the récit so fluid, and, o heck why not use the word, mellifluous.You can see here that I am trying, in vain, to make my description sound lovely, and well written too. But thats another (related) problem. My point more specifically here is that I simply cannot imagine this conversation happening in Hindi or another Indian language. A public craves sophistication, it wishes to live via the television, vicariously (am I using this fancy word correctly?) a life it cannot live, it also wishes to be told what sophisticated is, because they see a good in it, to mock it, to emulate it, to envy it, to behold it. Ah! if only my such-and-somebody could be as sophisticated as that actor I saw. There are “fancy” stars in cinema in India, but they dress like the west, they speak english (certainly not as well), but If I think of sophisticated, I see the word “sophisticated”, I don’t know the word in hindi, and I certainly don’t know what the equivalent of this extraordinary display of charm and language would be IN hindi. But there was a sophistication in India, because there were emperors, there was word play, but a bollywood star does not treat himself as an indian emperor, in this context Shahrukh khan is very specifically NOT a badshah, but a poor man’s brad pitt, the equivalent of a talk show in India, is just a bad version of this, there is no mellifluous hindi, no awe inspiring display of charming word play. So if they don’t present us with an distinctly indian sophistication, the adoring fans won’t aspire for it, and everybody will treat this (wonderful) thing as the definition of sophistication. This leads to an alienation of a people with its past, with its sophistication. This explains why I, and many others of my age, were never attracted to hindi, it isn’t the language’s fault, its the glitteratis fault. Even cuss words, I have never learnt a fancy insult in hindi, or heard it said with a sharp, cold and penetrating manner. I wish for an indian sophistication I never experienced, somebody robbed it from my country, the world will be richer for it, I want to also envy a distinctly indian kind of “poshness”, to repeat in my head a particularly well expressed idea, to use it on a friend, to learn to be haughty in hindi. I have had enough of dhishum dhishum and grammatical mistakes, lets go back to the emperors, we aren’t going to find indianness written in english, I don’t care how much they insist that english is a mere “tool” or “vehicle”. I am annoyed with the american centrism of the world, the world would be a much happier place with several cultural centres. They should be made to modify “the sexiest woman alve” to “the sexiest woman alive…in our part of the world”. The fact that we lap up their stuff with eagerness is because the alternatives aren’t real. I don’t like it that we treat indian culture as tourism, as a sort of thing to be preserved, visited, but not to put our hands into and play around with. Culture, in english, comes from the idea of a seed in dirt being watered and grown, not a seed kept in a box, labelled, looked at and earned money off of by selling to foreigners. First step: what is the etymology of the word for “culture” in Hindi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s