Earlier, the standard of excellence was Shakespearean English. However, the old bard is no longer a role model idolised by the connoisseurs of English language as he seems to have yielded way to our very own Shashi Tharoor and Tharoorian English seems to have replaced Shakespearean English.
The ideation for this blog came from a WhatsApp post forwarded by a friend of mine that beautifully describes a very humble food item, soup, in a highly embellished English that reads:
“Glutinous admixture of herbaceous viands, succulent meats and pulverised legumes daintily stewed over a benignly blazing flame.”
Whether the above is actually said by Shashi or not is a matter of conjecture, but what is almost certain is the presence of all the above in his vocabulary.
Much before Tharoor’s ornamental English caught fancy of the folks, I used to get enamoured by extremely artistic description of food items in the menus by elitist restaurants. A few examples that I readily recall are:
“Dumplings of farm bred tender chicken marinated in the choicest herbs and spices and then cooked in simmering heat in hand churned buttery sauce with fragrant ingredients.” – Butter chicken
“Organically grown okra in the green farms and cherry picked by our Master Chef and cooked in virgin oil with most luxuriating spices and tender slices of shallots and green chillies.”- Humble bhindi.
“Tender aubergine filled with most aromatic spices through a fine slit and curated for hours before shallow fried in a pan on slow fire to capture all its taste and essence”. – Poor brinjal or bengan.
It’s said that language has the power of creating magic from ordinary situations – ordinary stuff such as bhindi, bengan and chicken! While credit has to go to writers like Shakespeare, PG Wodehouse and now Shashi Tharoor to bring to the fore finer nuances of embellished language to commoners, this, though more evident in English, is not unique to it. Another language that has the capability of creating magic out ordinary is Urdu. It’s nazakat or finesse is such that it can connect you to the God almighty through most earthy things ! In a beautiful Urdu punjabi humour by ever dependable Anwar Masood that captures conversation between a gentleman and his cook, humble bhindi is beautifully described as “long and slim, fresh and crisp and stuffed with goat’s mince” making it a real royal dish in the imagination of the listener/ reader! Long live the power of language and linguists unveiling this power!