Guess what is common among the intriguing words La Solara, Trifecta Verdure, Callipolis, Wave Edenia and Earth Copia? They certainly sound outlandish and even exotic to those who hear it for the first time. These are none other than names of real estate properties in modern India! There is a spurt in multitude of apartments and villas in India particularly in the big cities in recent times. Along with them they have also raised awareness of words not only in English but also of foreign origin. While English has no doubt a stronghold in modern India among the educated, it seems queer and even preposterous to expect people to imbibe such exotic property names in their literal meaning and estate logic. It is perhaps a reflection of the modern Indian who is much influenced by alien cultures largely due to exposure by international travel, internet and establishment of foreign brands in the market. The modern Indian is now a globe-trotter and the world is becoming smaller and smaller. However with it, our focus and interest in Indian origin language seems to have dwindled and become smaller as well. I wonder when the alien culture will influence our original Indian products such as saree, kurta, dosa, samosa etc. to change their nomenclature. A day might come when samosa becomes La Samsa or the kurta becomes Das Carta.
At the other end of modern Indian spectrum is a fanatic frenzy to demolish historically bound, aged English “origin” names used in India to a more acceptable local dialect. Thus Bombay became Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkata and Madras to Chennai. If long established names of places and streets are not acceptable to the language “zealots” then where are their voices to the new born names of our sprouting high-rise apartments which are even more “foreign” to the Indian tongue? Are they in a deal with the property builders who have usurped the rights to building naming linguistics? This is a matter of deep concern to think aloud. Are things going in the right direction and are we on the right path to unbiased freedom in usage of language. However, the question still remains on why words are chosen relegating the rich heritage of our own language. Where have the vocabularies of our dozens of languages disappeared? Why are the proponents of Indian language discipline hiding in silence? How can a foreign borrowed word be more appealing to a person than the language in his blood? These are natural questions in anyone with a curiosity and wonder at the new language dacoits in India who abduct words of unknown languages to brand things and feed them to the “innocent” population at large.
One might be tempted to comment “What’s in a name? How does it matter which language is used?” As I write this, another Indian apartment is coming up with another Spanish name promising a Spanish luxury. Are we not perpetrators of bias to our own language when we have rich vocabularies in our mother tongue(s)? Are we not building sky scrapers of our own fancy perceptions of modernity and “class” in our heads with language bias being one of them? I admit there is little a common man like me could do anything about property names in the immediate term except to bring the linguistic conundrum to table for discussion and thought in society. I am not against any language usage however foreign it might be but it should not be used out of context and meaning and not be at the expense of one’s own heritage with rich language vocabularies.