by Shweta Kansal
Imagine a world without words, it would perhaps appear as land under the spell of drought. Words are powerful. We use words, idioms, phrases to express our emotions, conflicts, and whatnot. Words reflect thoughts, and thoughts in turn reflect character. But have we ever tried to pay heed that our language has nurtured ingrained prejudice against the minority section of our society since eternity? It has fostered patriarchy, racism, and apathy towards differently-abled persons.
Whammy of Words
Idioms like ‘andhe ke hath bater lagna'(An underserved person getting something easily) ‘ram milaye jodi ek andha ek kodi’,(A couple made in heaven) ‘andho mei kana raaja’ ( in the dearth of talented individuals, a person with meager knowledge would be applauded), all these idioms express social apathy towards visually challenged individuals, can’t a visually challenged person be ablest of the able, can h/she only marry with a leper and vice versa? It might not be used as a deliberate insult by the speaker every single time, but still, it might hurt the sentiments of people who suffer from these physical issues.
Well, English is no less when it comes to prejudice. Idioms like blind leading the blind, or casual words like a lame joke, are you walking on crutches, he/she is acting so bipolar these days. It is nothing but an inadvertent mockery of someone’s serious health issues.
Is Black Beautiful?
Phrases such as black law, black market, black sheep, etc are flag bearers of covert racism. Why a law that seems to be violative of human rights can’t be tagged as white? Why a disreputable member of a group is called a black sheep why not white? Isn’t this blatant derision and contempt? Only posting ‘Black lives matter’ on our social media account won’t be a panacea, we need to focus on our actions rather than our captions.
Phrases of Patriarchy
Our words express condescension towards women as well. Phrases like “haatho mei chudiya pehnana”(to wear bangles) are equated with cowardice. Even private parts of women’s bodies are equated with timidity. Those very same parts are responsible for a new life on earth. Just look around and you will realize our language is glutted with derogatory phrases.
One can be visually challenged but can still be erudite, one can wear bangles but can still be brave. Let’s accept this prejudice in our parlance, and end it together. Let’s redeem ourselves from the shackles of words. Let’s celebrate the beauty of language, not its bias.
About the Author:
Shweta Kansal is a Dentist by profession. She has a propensity for reading and writing. She has worked as a volunteer content writer for an educational institute in Mohali.