The other day I learnt a new word of Hindi/Marathi outside a train coach – ” Reserved for cancer patients and divyang (having godly body parts) persons”. I liked the word that is representative of progress since the days when we called people with crude and vulgar terms such as langda (lame), bahra (deaf) or andha (blind). In English what started as handicapped became spastic and then differently abled, visually challenged, hearing impaired but I think and readers will agree that “Divyang” takes the cake for its sheer sincerity and sensitivity. It can be loosely translated in English as “God’s blessed ability”, which is extremely respectful and sensitive to the challenge that such persons face.
But this has happened across the use of English language. Problem has become pain point and domain is comfort zone. Transparency became slide, which became presentation then power point and now its trendy acronym PPT. You now leverage strength and not merely use it and derive benefits rather than just taking them! Outsourced agencies are channel partners, head office is corporate office, meeting is brainstorming, housewife is homemaker, home is abode and humble bus became public transport and then Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system! For some reason using the word actress for a female performer has become demeaning and so is respectful Madam (though Ma’am, pronounced with a silent d is alright). Doctor is medical practitioner, lawyer is legal counsellor, banker is financial advisor, radio announcer is radio jockey, host is an emcee, artist is an exponent, peon is an office boy and policeman a cop. Outline is now become contour while future is road ahead. Change has now become disruption while any difficulty is now a constraint.
When the change is the only constant, language has got to change as change is always for the betterment. However, we must not lose human qualities of inclusiveness and compassion and accept not only languages but their different dialects, variants, versions and forms without necessarily looking down upon the users of quaint old language.