Aspirational Jargon

Today is one of those days!
Last weekend, a senior colleague remarked, “Why is it that people now call Toilets, Washrooms?”
I didn’t have an answer, but it got me thinking. It’s not just Toilets that have become Washrooms or Restrooms. People, places, things…nothing and no one has been spared the aspirational upscaling of the twittering classes.
And so,
– Footpaths have become Pavements,
– Lifts have become Elevators and
– Underwear has become Innerwear
I crowd sourced to get more of these. The largest response was from my Facebook friends followed by my school email group (all duly acknowledged).
The biggest change seems to be the way we view designations and people. Even after discounting politically correct phrases such as Fatty becoming Weight-Challenged, Blind becoming Visually Handicapped and Wackos being called People with Personality Disorders (Anil) we still get a large number of euphemistic labels.
Prostitutes are now Escorts (Durga) or Commercial Sex Workers (Tanmay), Peons are Office Boys, Sweepers are Sanitation Workers (Durga), Drivers are Chauffeurs and Servants are House-Help (Kajal). Housewives are now Home-Makers (Jyoti, Shally) or Stay Home Moms (Melody), Airhostesses are In-Flight Attendants and Doctors are now Healthcare Providers (Haresh). In the olden days, in a company, you could easily distinguish a secretary or receptionist from a member of the CEO’s team. Today both of them are Executive Assistants, working for Corporates, not Companies.
And to keep up with all this, we now Run, not Jog, Take a Download instead of just Listen, Give a Head’s Up instead of a Reminder and then keep sending Gentle Reminders by email or SMS (something happens to my blood when I see one of these “gentle reminders”) to look at Low Hanging Fruit. This kind of “corporatese” is so widespread, it’s not funny!
Perhaps it started with corporates and page 3 celebrities, but we ordinary humans have also embraced the upscaling and jargon so wholeheartedly that now Bhendi tastes good only if it is Okra and unless we have Aubergine or Eggplant, there is no way we can stand Brinjal (Tanmay, Haresh). Fancy restaurants catering to foreigners have always used weird descriptors for Indian dishes and while Pakoras being called Dumplings (Haresh) is fine, when Ragda Patties becomes Potato Cakes with Lentils or Idlis become Rice Dumplings (Minal) and Dosas, Rice Crepes (Baiju), I think we need to rethink our use of the language. And worse, try having Pancakes with Frills (Appams) and Wraps (Chapattis) with Curry Sauce (Chatni) (Minal). Luckily, no one yet has started calling Paani-Puris, Water Balls with Frills.
We want to upscale places as well. While Lower Parel becoming Upper Worli (Morparia) hasn’t really caught on, Flats have become Apartments, Dingy Flats have become Studios and Lofts are no longer Storage Spaces (Minal). And with our penchant for longer names, Garages are now Service Stations (Vineet), and expensive Restaurants have become Fine-Dining Places. Luckily, Beauty Parlors have shortened to Salons and Massage Parlors to Spas (Mansi).
Seriously, why should Cartoons be called Animated Movies (Shailly), Toothpaste turn into Dental Cream (Tanmay) and Investment Advisors morph into Financial Planners (Anil)?
Some people had to be sarcastic and nasty.
– Hobbies are now “Third Things” (Morparia)
– Running on Mumbai Roads is now the Mumbai Marathon (Amit)
– Babas are trying to become Gandhis (Jyoti)
– Thugs are now Politicians
I sometimes wonder why we don’t downscale (some believe that Bombay becoming Mumbai was a classic example). But, wouldn’t it be fun to call Old Spice After Shave Lotion, “Juna Masala Daadhi Nantar Lep” (Tanmay)?


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