Sunday, November 12, 2006

Linguistic Abuse

The eternal bard once said "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Maybe true. But every word has a meaning. And to use a word in a manner as to distort its meaning is unfortunately, today's journalistic trend.

For example, take the word (phrase?) "high-tech". It stands for high-technology - which means technology of a certain calibre, a certain novelty, and a certain degree of precision, one that stretches the state-of-the-art in a field. How do our papers use the word? Well, simply, everything in the 'high-tech' (sic) city of Bangalore is high-tech. The bus-stand is hi-tech, even though it doesn't have proper water-proofing. The buses are hi-tech, even though they run on 80s technology. The government is hi-tech, even if it doesn't understand technology. Everything is hi-tech. Most vulnerable to this phenomenon is the New Indian Express - which is otherwise an excellent read.

Here is an other one. "Militant". Websters' defines "Militant" as someone who takes to arms for a selfless cause. A "terrorist", on the other hand, is one who "systematically uses terror as a means of coercion". So, are the terrorists in Kashmir working for a selfless cause? Or are they using terror to coerce the Indian government into accepting the two-nation theory? Well, if you go by the anchors, they are those fighting for a selfless, no doubt, secular, cause.

I'll add more as I remember them.


Stier said...

have to agree with u gops...

and what do u a few years these meanings will go into oxford dictionaries too...just the way many of the "Hinglish" words have gone in

G3 said...

I agree with you,The journos of the prev genereation were literature, history graduates..and in my opinion were more well read that way. The current generation take up 'vocational' courses like mass com, which is just skill based. In my third year batch, some did'nt know what globalisation meant! Also to make copies look good, journos' tend to use what they 'think' are synonyms...and we know the rest. The prev gen were so well read they'd know the difference...they should offer a combination of traditional lit/pol sc/hist with mass com at least in the bachelor level

Gops said...


Unfortunately for these journos, the word high-tech already has a well defined meaning in the oxford dictionary, so I'm guessing (hoping) it won't make it in there! ;)


Yeah, I mean, compare what a Shekhar Gupta writes to what some of the newbies they say in Kannada - "Ajagajaanthara". Along with what you said, hasn't 2-minute journalism ruined the rest of the lot? I mean, if everything gets reduced to a sound-bite, then the best sound-bite (albeit the most meaningless one) 'wins', right?