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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The World is Flat

If you ever wondered where Tom Friedman got the idea, here is a wild conjecture. Friedman thought that invading Iraq was a good idea. So they went and bombed Iraq and flattened it. Little surprise then that some Iraqis think that the earth is flat and Tom wrote a book that the world is flat. QED.

The Earth is Flat: Debate on Iraqi TV.
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PanIIT’s “Reach 4 India”

Today I was favored with an email from the PanIIT alumni organization. The subject of the email was “Required for IIT alumni Reach 4 India! organisation” and the text was about their search for a “Chief Operations Sevak” and a “Chief Finance & Funding Sevak.”


I wrote back promptly asking if among the illustrious alumni of the much celebrated IITs there wasn’t someone who knew the distinction between the numeral “4” and the word “for”? Methinks their reach exceeds their grasp.

[I have written previously about PanIIT here: Inspire, Involve, and Transform — Part 1, and Part 2.]