Have you ever wondered how wonderful an invention the human language is?
Words can stand for meanings so specific, that people spend their entire lives, just mulling over each word, its possible synonyms, the subtleties in the differences of their meanings–writing judgements of court cases, or ‘terms and conditions’ on a web site, or a legal contract, or diplomats issuing statements addressed to various capitals of respective nations.
While on the other hand, we could twist words totally out of their native meanings in our attempt to evoke intended emotions. If I tell my girlfriend (who does not exist out of the confines of my meninges), “I shall bring you the stars and the Moon”, she would understand, I wouldn’t try to do that literally, not because I can’t do that, but because she’d know she’d die of starvation or oxygen-deprivation, or boredom on Moon, whereas proximity to stars would char her (don’t be suprised by her intelligence; she’d be my girlfriend after all! 😉 ). Or, if a sister tells her brother, “wo chocolate khaane se pehale tumhein meri laash par se guzaranaa hoga” [you’ll have to walk over my dead body to eat that chocolate], the brother would know that what she actually means is that she’s not in a mood to share the chocolate with him! And, a brother being male, would be clever enough to know that he could always circumvent her dead body to get the chocolate and need not actually walk over it! 😉 Or, if someone says, “He wears his heart on his sleeve”, everyone would know that having beautiful hearts to flaunt them has yet not become a fashion statement!
But, this figurative use of language gets most interesting when certain words get flashed all over the mass media, and get sprinkled about by politicians. Their meanings can change not just depending on the context, but even on which political party’s rally they are speaking in! Or, in case of media houses, which party’s ‘pay roll’ are they on!
Two such words that lend themselves most comfortably to fanciful usage, and thus making the user feel totally liberated from the confines of meaning and definition are ‘secularism’ and ‘equality’.
Read the following newspiece, a bit stale, but more illustrative of the phenomenon than my rant, here: