The Intimacy Of Slangs

Slangs do not mean cuss words or foul language. Rather these are a set of colloquial words and phrases. They are regional languages or terms, mostly using typical vernacular style of usage and applied where intimacy is present in a conversation or is expected or planned. It could also mean use of absolutely bawdy language to describe something  drastic and fall under uncivilised communication.

Slangs can also have cultural ties and are often intelligently arranged or thought of. Many times certain slang words express what normal, formal language fails to convey. I do not want to get into the etymology of slangs because I do not want to destroy their affinity with staid theories. Whenever it happened, it happened for good. Life is not always about formal communication. Inventive, alternative vocabulary is more than essential to vent feelings truly, without veneer. That’s when slangs flow out spontaneously. Because feelings, despite everything, are spontaneous and need the help of free will to be independent of ‘eco systems’. Every generation has its own slangs. There is a parallel language movement of slangs.

Many of the slangs of the present generations are largely influenced and carried forward by the medium they use – technology. Some Gen Z slangs I am constantly ambushed with are: a) TBH (To Be Honest) b) lit (something very good) c) extra (over the top) d) to ghost someone (cancel culture) e) tea (gossip) f) Bye, Felicia (cold shoulder) g) Hangry (hungry & angry) and many more.

But for now, I am restricting myself to Odia language. I don’t think we had many slangs prior to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Probably because that was the time when urban Odisha took roots and rural Odisha met urban Odisha. There were lots of words for ‘surprise’ or ‘new experience’ or ‘greenhorn’. This was obvious. ଇଲୋ ବୋଉଲୋ (Oh mother), ରାଣ (promise), ଆବାବା (oh my! southern Odisha), ବାଳ ନା? (disbelief), ବାଳ ଭଳିଆ (worthless), କଦଳୀ (banana, but used to explain dismissal of something), ଉତୁରୁଛି (indulgent or show off), ଚୁଡା (rustic or greenhorn), ବେଧୁଆ (cheeky or naughty), ଘଣୀ ( intimate or close), ଧଇଁୟା (loser), ଧାଇଁ କିରି କିରି (hasten up, in Puri), ଜାଲମ (wicked) were some of the words and phrases commonly used. These are now less used by Gen Y or Z, but ଛତୁ (decimated/blown/wonderful), କାଚ (wonderful/beautiful) continue to be in vogue. Slangs go through complete metamorphosis. They reflect the changing trends and times. There are many words and expressions which actually do not mean anything, but they have shock value, or they fill in the silence when one would struggle to find a filler. କଣ କଲା ସିଏ ? (What has s/he done?) is a more recent phrase, which is borrowed from a movie, but is quite a blather. There are many such words or phrases which must have been born out of khatti during ‘doing nothing’. Like ଶଳା is a regular word across the state. Hence, they are pure gibberish but surprisingly they are helpful linking words or sentences which stitch conversations together. Slangs need not necessarily be an urban syndrome. It is everywhere and takes the elements of the prevailing context. Like ଗୋଟେ ଚାପୁଡା ଦେବି ଜେ ବାପା କୁ ମଉସା ଡାକିବୁ (With one slap you will start addressing your father as uncle) is less used now in urban areas but is said in smaller towns. କଉଠି ଥୋଇବି? (literal translation is ‘where do I keep’? was once a rage and was lifted from a popular movie dialogue. But today it is out of use. It was gibberish, meaningless but was used to rile in khatti when anyone spoke ‘big’.

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The unconventional Akshaya Mohanty experimented with many terms which created waves in Odisha of 1970s and 1980s. He contributed to Odia language, simplifying and making day-to-day Odia easier and less orthodox. That is why his ମଣି, ପଡି ଯିବିକି? ଫୁଲେଇ ରାଣୀ, କଣ ଚମକୁଛ? have been mainstream, the longest.

A few days ago, I got hold of “Puri Boli”, a book authored by Dr Siddheshwar Mohapatra. Puri Boli or the dialect of Puri is candid about the moods of the people and the dominating servitors for whom the only Supreme is Lord Jagannath. They do not appreciate human arrogance and hence the Bolis of Puri are slangful, loud and unabated barbs at human follies. They say, ମାଲିକ କିଏ ମ ବାଇ, ମାଲିକ ତ ତୋ ମାକ ବଡ ଦେଉଳରେ, (who is the Master? The Master is only in the temple). A mix of satire, blasé and unsettling candour, the slangs are read out lyrically by the charioteer (dahuka), usually during Ratha Yatra. But many of the words and phrases are commonly used in daily conversations. Puri accords high status to discipline, physical fitness and wrestling. Life starts with Jega Ghara (the local gymnasium) about which I have written earlier. People love to see beefy youngsters like ଛଇଛାଡ଼ ଟୋକା, ଗରଦନ ଅହୁଁ (muscular boy with thick neck/nape. When you say ଅହୁଁ, one flexes his neck muscles with a sense of pride). Thick neck because of their workouts and wrestling practices. ବନ୍ଧା ଟୋକା (celibate and strict youngster) is to describe the favourite boy who is disciplined in his habits and primarily preserves his energies, abstaining from sexual activities. This is adored because there is a strong belief that conservation of energy is necessary to build strength and excel in wrestling. Every part of Odisha has its own slangs, largely intertwined with the dialect. That makes them a part of folk language or the local culture’s abridged form.

Also Read: Sexual Energy & Puri

Slangs are used consciously, or they quite naturally establish and reinforce social identity or cohesiveness within a group or with a trend or fashion in society. That is why they are dynamic and keep changing. More importantly and closer to life, slangs help build an instant intimacy and informality. After years when I met a friend inside the aircraft and could sense stiffness in the conversation, a whiff of mild slang was the ice breaker, followed by loads of campus nostalgia.         Slangs are very human. Slangs are liberating.

ତରା ମାରେ କ୍ଷୀରା, ସୁଜି ତିରି ବାଲି , କାଚ ତିରି ପାଣି , ଛେନା ମାରେ ବାଇଗଣ ,ମହୁ ମାରେ ଆମ୍ବ.

Star like Khira, (a famous Puri dessert)/Sand like suji (kind of semolina) /water like glass/ brinjal tastes like cheese like brinjal/ mango tastes like honey.

This is how a film is explained when it is good or a hit: ବହି ଜଳିଲା I ମାକ ହଲ ଛତୁ

Or the impactful explanation of an action hero: ଟୋକା ଯଦି ଉଡି କିରି ନ ବଜେଇଲା, କୋରି ନ ଦେଇଗଲା ତା ହେଲେ ସେ କି ବହି ? (read films)

Enjoy the inventiveness of local expressions and the brilliant, practical simile(s). The seemingly balderdash bring hearts together. Give bunkum its place.

Also Read: Odia Bonding Starts With Me, And You

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