ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lingo Bingo

Travelling through Kolkata, the overwhelming feeling is that language, especially in the markets, has changed--for reasons of politics, the economy and hegemony.

I am in Kolkata. At least I think this is Kolkata. I was told that I would be journeying into the heartland of the bhadralok and the East Bengalis of Shillong coloured my expectations and bias. Upon arrival, though, I feel as though some things have been missed. Like the city, the information seems hardly fresh. It is not current.

As I walked within the various bazaars and commercial establishments, besides the madding drone and unnecessary cacophony, there was something that struck me. The language of the market has changed. Hindi has replaced Bangla as the pre-eminent language, as it has replaced Assamese and Khasi. Hindi might not be the language of the customers—they might still (jingoistically, at times) prefer their mother tongues and good bania customer care will make it compulsory to engage with them along their lines but it is the language of the “machinery,” that system beyond the customer—the manufacture, transport and taxation before a product or service is delivered to a customer.

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