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The Language Revolution at IIT KGP

The following text contains material that may be unsuited for certain audiences. Reader discretion is recommended.



Language in itself has been one of the most elusive subjects of this world. The language being a prerequisite for its own study makes it very interesting as well tricky. Tracking the growth of a language, its formations, changes, adaptations over the ages is many-a-time more difficult than say tracking the evolution chart of a species. Language evolves by itself, not necessarily by Darwinian principle of natural selection. Even local dialects develop and reform words to suit their usage in modified contexts. In other cases, a localized centre, which may be secluded as an entity, starts using words in varying connotations. Normal words take on different meaning when you cross the social boundary of such a centre. At times, whole new words are invented, with their meanings being ingenious and weird and sometimes outrageous.

It is here, at one of such social islands that language takes a brand new form. At around 135 kilometers from Kolkata, which used to be the capital during the British regime, is what used to be the largest district of the country before its divsions(S) -- Midnapore. A larger part of this district remains inconsequential in the bigger plan of the Universe. But, a part of the same district is also home to the so called "intellectual elite" of the country. As the more perceptive of you would have realized, this is IIT - KGP, and thankfully I am not the director. Practically secluded from the rest of the world, "smart, intelligent and innovative" students, are expected here to grow into "best engineers" in the world.

But, this haloed place ahs produced more than its fair share of engineers. It has also brought about societal revolutions, those in language being my primary concern. First few days, in the realm of campus life of KGP, throws in your face words and phrases that leave you amused as well as irritated. The most famous among them all is "load" and "peace". These unassuming words have acquired seemingly Martian meaning. "Load" has nothing to do with Newton neither has "peace" any relation with Gandhi. Going into actual usage, connotations, and etymology of these two words would be a thesis in itself. But here, I concern myself with a third word: "Makhana". The word more or less tries to convey a feeling of poorness, or something ill. The root word is "makh" and the language is Hindi. "Exam mein makha liye", "yeh banda ulti makhau hai", etc are certain common usage of the word. What interests me most is not the root word "makh", but its form "makhana". The reason being so that I feel I have tracked down the origin and development of this word. Those of you who have been patient this long would appreciate a little more effort of mine.

In Devnagiri script, "Makhana" would be written as:









All of us would no doubt accept that text above reads "Makhana". Now Hindi script is a bit more flexible and allows a few artistic modifications of its character. So "Makhana" is also:


Surely there would be no disagreement on this either. But a closer look shall reveal a few more things. It is like decrypting those puzzles in the Da Vinci Code. The above text can as easily be read "Marwana". Now the going into the meaning and usage of "marwana", is better left unsaid here. Those unaware about it should find it out on their own. But it is needless to say that the word "marwana" needed a substitute for certain situations, especially when you managed to step out of this social island. So it was for these times that "Makhana" was adopted, being less offensive, albeit a bit weird.

Who first used this modified form? That is a question some of the distinguished alumnus of this institute need to answer. Perhaps it all started with the father asking his son "how did the exams go?? He couldn?t have said "Marwa ke aa gaye" so said "makha ke aa gaye". But it must be said that, whoever it was, he (and not she) made a great contribution to the great language of this place. For all its worth, it may have been an accidental invention. None the less, it shows great vision on their part to adopt it in its current form and perhaps justifies the title of intellectual elite that has been adorned to this place.


With special thanks to:
Akash Agrawal
Kaustubh Tripathi
Naresh Kumar Soni

Please let me know through your comments if you agree with my interpretations.

Comments

  1. hmmm..... Achha KHOJ kiye ho

    ReplyDelete
  2. is it a discovery as said by myth..or rather an invention???
    wtever it is..hats off to u!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. it is good piece for describing the way of interpretation of thing going on here

    ReplyDelete
  4. KKhoj naye bharat ki...[Bharat ek khoj... you know what i k-mean!!]... but i couldn't associate to it coz i have never heard the use of this word as mentioned!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. dedicate this post to our dearest MAKHAU :P

    ReplyDelete

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