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Mar
30
2015

You may be scratching your head at the visual for this post, but if your child’s teacher uses Class Dojo to “manage” classroom behavior, you’ll see the connection (teachers assign students avatars through Class Dojo, and then create and track goals and rewards).  My daughter comes home from school one afternoon and informs us, “I got to change my a-va-taar today,” (pronouncing the first “a” as in “apple”). You mean uh-vuh-taar – like Vishnu’s 10 uh-vuh-taars?  “No, it’s a-va-taar. It’s not the same word.”   I tried to explain that it is the same word, and the symbolism behind the Indian origin – but I’m not sure she got it.  There we go, I thought, misappropriating a good Indian word, and mangling it to the point of non-recognition by a 6-year-old.

Hence the genesis for this post. Here’s the list – please feel free to add:

1. Avatar (as described above) – it’s very easy to pronounce it correctly – everyone should try.

2. Namaste – I still have yet to hear a non-Indian pronounce this correctly.  Yoga instructors included.

3. Pakistan – George W. Bush did a number on this one.  Thanks for this (and everything else), W.

4. Diwali – This gets tortured on many different levels. Maybe it’s our fault for letting this word get shortened from the original.  It’s too big of a price for my taste.

5. Gandhi – Will blame the British for this one.

6. Hindu – is it really necessary to accentuate the “oooooo” at the end?  This elongation does nothing to accentuate the exoticism.  And the “d” is slightly soft. It’s not our fault that English doesn’t have 4 different sounds for the “d.”

7. Hyderabad (or any city ending in “bad”) – It’s not “bad” as in “bad breath.”  Which we don’t have by the way, because we use tongue cleaners.

8. Nehru – The “h” is there for a reason, which I understand can seem confusing, but there is still no reason to change the short “e” sound.  It’s non-sequitor.

9. Tabla – Maybe it would help everyone if we spelled it “tubluh.”

10. Akbar – The first syllable does NOT rhyme with “yak.”

11. Shiva – I don’t see a long “ee” sound in here, do you?

12. Dhal – No, we are not heathens who consume children’s toys as our staple protein, voodoo or not.  We’ve evolved since Indiana Jones.

Would I correct a stranger?  Maybe in a subtle way, depending on the audience.  But I’ll certainly correct my kids.  These words are borrowed from India (and Pakistan) – and they should be proud of that.

Languages are beautiful….Love Your Language

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