Facing the New Challenges – The New Lingo


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Jul 2020 – The world has been colonised and ruled by several powers — Portugal, Spain, England, France, etc. over the last several centuries. Others who have ruled over smaller regions of the world are people from Netherlands, Iran, Arabia and the kingdoms from Turkey and Mid East regions. India has been ruled earlier by the Mughal kingdoms, then by Portugal, France (in small regions) and finally by England virtually over the entire Indian peninsula comprising today’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma.

The major colonial powers deeply influenced the peoples of the countries they overcame in terms of not only culture and language, but religion, education and introduction of industry and technology (trains, weaving machines) so as to have a firmer grip over the peoples. This is as truer for Australia, New Zealand as for South America and several parts of Africa and Asia.

In my essay, I wish to focus on the linguistic aspect of colonialism. This is abundantly manifest in Australia and New Zealand where the traditional languages of the local people have been completely destroyed except for one tribal language Maori that has survived the linguistic onslaught, in New Zealand.

South Africa has also seen this transformation where the local languages and cultures have all but disappeared. In North West Africa, one can see the French domination over the Arabic and a few local languages. South Africa is all Spanish speaking except for Brazil (Portuguese language) and a few smaller countries that have English or French speakers — at the expense of different local languages.

The Indian subcontinent had scores of traditional languages. Fortunately, despite the dominant English and earlier Persian, several languages have not only survived but are doing well in terms of speakers and their literature. These include, apart from the classical Sanskrit and Tamil languages, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Telegu, Malayam and several smaller languages. Of course many tribal and smaller languages have become extinct. The number of Hindi speakers is estimated to be fifth largest worldwide after Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and French.

Similarly, traditional languages in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia etc are doing well. Of course, China is strong politically, economically and linguistically.

The dominance of English in the world is now accentuated not only by USA but also due to the emergence of computers and internet, whether it is software, digital applications in banking, trade and in other spheres — even military. The new basis of operations is related to this medium of internet and no one is free from the various applications in newspapers, TV, social media, Instagram, mobile phones and the dominance of various apps in our lives. In fact the mobile phones that house these apps have become so powerful, that they are usually referred to as Smartphones.

Many people use these hand held smartphones for different purposes — reading newspapers, sending messages and pictures, transmitting and receiving money and for varied other reasons. During the current COVID 19 pandemic, with educational institutions shut for several months, the application of these phones and laptops has dramatically increased for conducting online classes for School and College students. Even online examinations have been conducted reasonably successfully. Certain institutions that had regular Conferences or meetings  or training workshops, where participants would come physically, have switched to Online Seminars popularly called Webinars where all operations are now conducted over internet and laptops and smartphones.

Inevitably a new lingo (if I may use this expression), has emerged in the English speaking world to describe the large scale changes taking place in our lives. For example, smartphones are sometimes called smarties. A journalist becomes     journo.    Hospitals, restaurants, celebrities have been shortened to hospice, resto celebs, etc. A President becomes Prez, Vice President is known as veep, a defence minister becomes defmin and so on. What is preggie —  pregnant woman.

Interesting!  Related to Hollywood, the Bombay Hindi film industry has become Bollywood and so on. Gennext, Fab are easy to understand for people who know English. But it creates confusion and diffidence in people who don’t know English language well. As a matter of fact, some egos egotistical people, deliberately use this new lingo to show how smart they are and to show the ordinary person his place in the pecking order.

Is this a desirable trend?  Recently an article appeared in the English newspapers informing how certain billionaires in the world — FB inventor Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk,  Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani of India and a few others have all increased their wealth even during the current pandemic. This trend of inequality in society is visible not only in business, but also socially, politically and as seen above linguistically.

These elites care little for other people or the environment and society at large. They exploit the planet’s resources mercilessly, inflicting a terrible cost on our planet that is leading to climate change and global warming.

Only a sustained effort at reducing this adverse impact on the planet can now save gennext peoples of the world. As Mahatma Gandhi had written a century back, there is enough for peoples’ needs but not enough for their greed.

Om Shanti, Hare Krishna


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Jul 2020.

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