Saturday, September 30, 2006
Englishiana, Anyone? asks Pramita Bose of Asian Age
English is changing with the times. Writers today are giving it a twist and tweak to make the queen’s language speak a modern tongue.
With simplicity and flexibility defining the current-day writing style, young writers are increasingly resorting to the more elastic and contemporary expressions. Some even play around with words to induce colloquialism, thus enabling the target readers identify with the plot as well as the characters.
Consider Gautam Malkani’s much talked about debut title Londonstani. Dealing with the diaspora of multi-religious South Asian immigrants, Malkani’s use of the rich slang tongue of indigenous culture smoothly blends with the US influences and other foreign languages.
Also, Nandita C. Puri’s maiden fictional collective piece Nine on Nine, which has gone into its third edition and has lodged a decent sales figure, has dollops of Hindi, Marathi and Bengali utterances such as aai, ladla, khichdi, phukat mein khana-paani, dais, kabirajes, hakims etc. Even tales woven around leading technological institutes and B-school campuses have generous doses of theek bola, babus, addas, Dadu’s dhaba, dhobi incorporated in bits and pieces.
Abhijit Bhaduri’s Mediocre But Arrogant and Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone or the bestseller One Night @ The Call Center are just a few more cases in point. Not to lag behind, Neelum Saran Gour’s fourth novel, Sikandar Chowk Park is a striking example of Urdu-English jugglery.
Opines Puri, "Indian writers have now confidently broken free of the chaste British mould where one was expected to maintain the purity of Victorian English."
Echoing in the same vein, Bhaduri comments, "It’s but natural that every writer has to keep his target audience in mind while addressing certain issues in a narrative format. If the setting is Indian and the readers are youngsters or belong to middle-class households, then it’s wiser to adapt some traces of the vernacular dialect to retain onto the readers’ attention." We couldn’t agree more as all these books are selling like hot cakes.