Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Limitations of language

Coal Minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal has drawn adverse attention to himself by proclaiming that "as time passes a wife loses her charm". Ofcourse, he was talking in Hindi. His utterance has rightly been criticised as sexist and feudalistic. Women's associations have sought his resignation from the central cabinet.

Had he referred to 'spouse' instead of wife, people would at best have credited him with humour or at worst have accused him of misogamy, apparently a lesser evil than misogyny. His resignation would not have been demanded. Why did he say 'wife'? It appears that Hindi (as many other Indian languages) does not have an equivalent for spouse.

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