Rajivspeak is getting out of hand

One of my pet peeves is the idiotic mixing of English and Hindi words in advertising copy which is cropping up everywhere on billboards and in print. Perhaps it is considered cool. But it is cool in only the way that displaying abysmal stupidity and illiteracy is cool–which is to say it isn’t. What it advertises is that that both the writer and the readers don’t quite know either of the languages and perhaps don’t even know that they don’t know the distinction between the two. I call it “rajivspeak” in honor of the man who was a master in this regard.

A few years ago, I was lamenting the poor grasp some people have of even one of the basic languages of India to someone. He wrote back saying, “I had the pleasure of watching Rajiv Gandhi give a speech in Hindi to the hapless denizens of Malda district in Bengal. The populace is linguistically challenged, period, at the best of times. And not just with respect to Hindi. They had to face up to Rajiv’s stuff, which if memory serves me right, went along these lines:
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Babbage and Tennyson

Charles Babbage (1791–1871), the English mathematician was the father of the idea of a programmable computer. Babbage built a mechanical computer called “the difference engine.” He once corresponded with Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Sir,

In your otherwise beautiful poem “The Vision of Sin”, there is a verse which reads,

“Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.”

It must be manifest that if this were true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth, the rate of birth is slightly in excess of that of death.

I would suggest that in the next edition of your poem you have it read:

“Every moment dies a man,
Every moment 1,1/16th is born…”

I am, Sir, yours, etc.

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