>…is the way I say me and you. You can say main here but tu would be considered rude.
I’m a Lucknow girl and if there’s anything you need to know about Lucknow, then it’s the language. The city has given birth to many poets and they owe in large measures their success to this city where the confluence of Hindi and Urdu lends a lyrical lilt to the language. So it’s only natural that as a Lucknow person and a literature student, I’m quite intrigued by the use and function of language.
In India, a person can be identified by the language he speaks and the way he speaks it. As you travel across UP, the dialect of Hindi changes through the cities and towns – refined in one place, rustic in another. A samosa from Kanpur would become a samausa in Meerut, if you know the difference!
I remember travelling to Haryana for my cousin’s wedding a few years ago with my family and being immediately identified as a Lucknowite there because of our aap and hum! Some say this language of thou and thine is too formal, that there’s a camaraderie that grows when you let this stiff upper lip-ness (I just made that up. So?) pass and come down to more comfortable tu and tera. Ask Mumbaikars, they’ll answer the how and why of it better.
A few months ago, The Guy was in Chandigarh to attend a business meeting. He came back extremely flustered because he didn’t understand why the man on the other end of the table was being so offensive. That man did not understand why The Guy minded what he said. Turned out, it was a simple case of lingual misunderstanding. The Punjabi fellow spoke a corrupted Punjabi that didn’t go down well with The Guy from the town of Nawabs!
Not that our language hasn’t corrupted and we can’t say anymore that if you find two people quarrelling in Lucknow, they will not be resorting to tu or tera (oh yes, they used to say that about the language here) but it’s still different from what you’re likely to hear in, say, Delhi.
And no, I’m not insinuating that the language we speak is the best but because I’m familiar with its nuances, I can appreciate it better. There are some languages though that you cannot understand but which still come across as incredibly sweet. Like Bengali. It has a tone that’s melodious even if you don’t know what the words mean.
When you transfer the tone of one language to another, it sounds unsettlingly fake. Like how they speak Hindi on Discovery (or some such) channel. Even though the pronunciations are right, the tone is still of English, lending the Hindi commentary a strange quality. When people speak a language that is not their mother tongue, they often bring the inflection of their mother tongue to that language. The result may be amusing or offensive!
But it’s the prowess to manipulate a language to make it say what you want it to, that impresses me. How you can say “kaminey” and get away with it.
Gulzar does it so well. Hear this and decide for yourself.