Saturday, August 23, 2008

Roll of Dishonour

Whenever I see bad advertisements with worse Kannada, I feel like starting a movement to rouse Kannadigas into some kind of action. Boycott that product or that company's products.

Apparently this does not work. I know of a case that did not work. The issue was far more serious than mauling of a language in advertisements. I refer to the Union Carbide and the Bhopal gas leak tragedy. Quite a few organisations tried to get people to boycott Union Carbide's products, the most visible of which was Eveready.

I am not surprised that it was a failure. As far as I know, that was the most powerful brand at that time and many small shops stocked no other brand. What a pity. I was committed to that boycott and adhered to it for years. Even today, when I buy batteries I look for other brands and if for some reason I buy Eveready, I feel guilty.

Now coming to the mauling of Kannada with impunity, and the recent trigger for writing about it now, was an ice cream advertisement from a company called GRB. It simply states, "Taste andre Taste". (Literally translated, it means: taste means taste, Well, what else can it mean? But what it means in idiomatic Kannada is that it is extremely tasty.)

Another trigger was the name of a restaurant written in Kannada. It is called Jhopdi. (For the denizens of Bengaluru: You can see this restaurant or at least its board in the same building as that of Hotel Chalukya) Below are pictures of how it has been written and how it should be.

The practice of using
English words in "kannada" advertisements is not new. One of the worst trend setters was Spice - the cellular service provider. Their advertisement said, "simpallaagi sellyulaar aagi". Ughhhhh!

(Of course, Kannada is not the only language that they ruin. One of the earliest such murder I had seen was the appeal to the buyer to "unpeel" a packet of some biscuits. Unpeel? It is as difficult as filling toothpaste into a tube after having squeezed it out!)

Here is chance to make a roll of dishonour and rank them. Look out for mauling of Kannada and write to me and we will list them in descending order of the seriousness of the crime committed.

It could include examples like that abominable catch line of Radio Mirchi. Sakhat Hot Magaa. That line rewrites one of the definitions of democracy and uses it as a definition of itself: Of the morons, by the morons, for the morons?


  1. Sakhat post or is it sakhat hot post? ;--)

  2. As a rule, I don't use such language, but since a whole lot of people dont understand what I talk when I talk proper Kannada, and by the subconscious that imbibes the words spoken around oneself, such phrases do enter my language. And I have to constantly prune my language. But I clearly know the difference between the right and the wrong word. Atleast nobody is going to spoil this beautiful language as long as I am there..:)