The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'p. g. wodehouse'
Veteran English literary/cultural magazine The Spectator looks at Hinglish, the oddly ornate dialect of English used in India, laden with British Army metaphors, cricket terminology and quaintly archaic British slang that hasn't been heard in London since the 1930s:
Like so many good gags, `Official intimation' pops up in P.G. Wodehouse (Heavy Weather, chapter ten), whose books are to be found on every bookshelf of every bookshop in India. It is a safe bet that Wodehouse is the inspiration for many standard Hinglish-isms, viz a `quantum' (never a mere amount), `sans' (as in, he went out `sans' his coat), or, my favourite, `for the nonce'. An Indian acquaintance once playfully suggested that Wodehouse has a place in the elastic pantheon of Hindu gods.
More unappealing in tone is the ubiquity of 'mishap' to describe everything from massacres of peasants in rural India, the unspeakable daily carnage on India's roads, to the 1992 razing of the 16th-century Babri mosque at Ayodhya by allies and members of the present Hindu revivalist government. Newspapers are also guilty of inappropriate levity: 'A mosque in Tamil Nadu was bombed in the wee hours today.'
The Spectator (a somewhat conservative institution, though not in the dogmatic, anti-intellectual way associated with contemporary conservatism) presents Hinglish as a charming, if in places unnerving, phenomenon; progressive psychiatrist Eliot Gelwan, however, regards it as somewhat more sinister, a symptom of the "cultural schizophrenia" of a civilisation broken to the will of Victorian England, and suggests that the Spectator's fondness for it may be an artefact of its "cultural-imperialist attitude".