You know that politics in your country is hitting a new low when they take Mamata Bannerjee and then criticize her for, wait for it, a silly linguistic foible.
She threatened to pull her men out of the union on Jummabar, leading to hue and cry not over the pulling out but on her choice of word Jummabar.
TOI has been kind enough to give us a quick Urdu lesson about the Urdu word for Friday:
The Urdu word ‘Jumma’ is derived from the Persian ‘Jomeh’ and Arabic Jumu’ah, which means the ‘day of gathering’ or the day of the congregational prayer. Which is Friday when attending the afternoon prayer, says the Haadith, is mandatory for all able-bodied Muslims.
Mamata added a “bar” to “Jumma” – as some do in West Bengal – as in ‘Itwar’ (Sunday), possibly not just for the local flavour but also for Bengal’s Muslim voters who went with Didi in the last election and whom the lady has been wooing steadfastly. Breaking of ties with ‘secular’ Congress might have got them worried and ‘Jumma-bar’ was probably designed to reassure them.
Yes, thousands of Muslim voters would suddenly feel comfortable voting for TMC because their head said Jumma-bar. Pfff.
The news article then has quotes from clerics and Imams about how this grave linguistic error is a sign of dire things to come. As if suppression of free speech and democracy and incarceration of anyone who didn’t agree with you wasn’t. It also goes on to say how even Bollywood got it right in the song chumma chumma de de. Between a native Bengali speaker and Bollywood, who do you expect to get it right anyway?
Linguistically, the error she made is pretty trivial. Since she is Bengali, her brain expects all day names to end in -bar and systematically over-corrected the term jumma so as to make it fit the standard template. I have heard many mothers say jeans-pant for jeans. Such mistakes happen all the time when people talk in a language that isn’t their native tongue. Such mistakes do tell us a lot about how the brain handles language (a computer would never make that error as long as it was told that Jumma meant Friday), but unfortunately, it gives us no insight whatsoever into Didi’s politics.
I could attempt to explain how irrelevant and pointless this whole issue is, but I could never do justice to its pure, unadulterated irrelevance and pointlessness. So I’ll shut up.
(Hat tip to Mayur Ramteke for the post idea)