THE DECOLONISATION OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE (Part 4)

‘The Moor’s Last Sigh’ is an example for Rushdie’s cleverness and brilliance in using language though at some places it appears contrived. Rushdie in this novel has constantly and consciously attempted to exoticise the language of his fiction, probably wishing to amuse and entertain the western readers. The literary gymnastics of Rushdie can be realised by considering the following passages:

“One day you will killofy my heart.”

“Patience is a virtue. I’ll just bide-o my time.”

“ ‘I’ll give you one chapat,’ she promised, ‘that will breakofy the teeth in your cheeky face.’ ”

Rushdie makes his characters in the novel especially Aurora Zogoiby and the three sisters of the Moor to pull and stretch some of the words they articulate. Numerous such modified words are found in the novel. Here are a few interesting examples: ‘inflictofy, proceedofy, scrubbofy, tubbofy, exceed-o, look-o, wait-o, croak-o’ and ‘dirtified’. Economic reforms

Rushdie consciously tries to exoticise the language spoken by his characters. There is a passage in The Moor’s Last Sigh where Aurora, who is an accomplished painter, utters the following words to Jawaharlal Nehru while receiving an award from him: “That chicken-breasted mame! Edweenie

Mounteenie! ”. One more interesting example is the song that Rushdie has composed in praise of the beauty queen Nadia Wadia’s complete sweep of all the three major beauty pageants of the world.

“There was a song about Nadia Wadia after she conquered the world.

Nadia Wadia you have gone fardia Whole of India has admiredia Whole of world you put in whirlia Beat their girls for you were girlia I will buy a brand new cardia Let me be your body guardia […] ”.

Rushdie calls the beauty queen not just Nadia, but always Nadia Wadia. The repeated coinages of rhymes though nonsensical are quite amusing. Much of the English coinages used by Rushdie in The Moor’s Last Sigh are imaginary. Still the unauthentic usage adds a special flavour to the exotic prose cuisine of Rushdie.

Rushdie undoubtedly is a master manufacturer of felicitous phrases, while attempting to decolonise English. His prose is resplendent with such brilliantly startling words and phrases. He has brought into his writing the first look emerging from new language rhythms, exploiting to great advantage his native experience of Indian vernacular tongues. To validate the claim that Rushdie was the first writer who consciously attempted to decolonise English, the author wishes to present certain literary devices used by him along with a cursory list of suitable examples.

Rushdie inserts North Indian vernacular language habits into flawless English intoned sentences, like double usage of the same word for fluency and rhythm. Consider the following examples.

“Chhi, chhi,” Padma covers her ears, “My God such a dirty- filthy man, I never knew! ” (Midnight 319).

“ – there were grown men rolling in the aisles clutching their bellies, not laughing but crying, Hai Ram! Hai Ram! ” (143).

“These badmashes would not get away with their whistling shistling if it was my affair! ” (Shame 61).

“Only child,” Hasmat Bibi creaked, always always they live in their poor head ” (32).

“You can have. Pudding – shudding? ” (The Moor 23).

“There is no God. Hocus – pocus! Mumbo – jumbo! There is no spiritual life ” (84).

He inserts crisp, befitting vernacular words / phrases into flawless English sentences. Consider the following examples.

“Inspector Sahib, what are you waiting for? ” (Midnight 147).

“Why such formality, such takalluf?” (288)

“Innocently wide – eyed Chaalak Sahib” (Shame 19).

“You stop being someone’s daughter and become someone’s mother instead ekdum, fut-a-fut, pronto ” (155).

“However, after years of such persecution Totah gave in and snapped, bad temperedly: ‘Peesay – safed – hathi!’ ” (The Moor 126 – 127).

“Children at Mahalakmi played ankh micholi, hide – and – go – seek, in and out of the crowds of adult legs” (319).

He engages in transliteration of vernacular idioms. Consider the following examples.

“ […] donkey from somewhere! ” (Midnight 118).

“ […] madman from somewhere! ” (122).

“ all these persons left simultaneously after a very few moments, without having broken bread or eaten salt ” (Shame 16).

“ May your grandsons urinate upon your pauper’s grave” (17).

“ Sukha lakad ola zelata. You don’t speak Marathi. “When the dry stick burns, everything goes up in flame.” ” (The Moor 293)

“ Hum do hamare do (we two and our two) ” (338).

His masterstrokes in word jugglery are seen in the mixing of metaphors of native and foreign tongues in his texts. For example – the using of phrases like “ garment of humanly honour” (Shame 64) and “ the cloth of modesty ” (Midnight 57), for ‘dupatta’, a mere scarf in the western context.

It could be argued that the most remarkable literary device that Rushdie introduced in his use of English in his fiction was the incorporation of some exclusively Indian (mostly Hindi or Urdu) words, phrases and collocations. He did not alter the basic ingredients; he only added some new spices, which brought exceptional flavour and spiciness to his exquisite prose cuisine. His attempts to decolonise English include the technique of selective lexical fidelity, which leaves some words from the vernacular in the English text. This method is becoming a widely used device for conveying the sense of cultural distinctiveness by most of the Post-colonial fiction writers nowadays. Such a device not only acts to signify the difference between the cultures, but also illustrates the importance of discourse in interpreting cultural concepts.