Dose incorrect langauge or spelling matter anymore in mass media communication?
1. The award-winning New Delhi airport signage says, amid cheerful arty swirls,“A New Delhi. Everyday.”
Clever pun, not-so-clever spelling.
2. Ajmera, a builder in Mumbai, has launched i-LAND, a city within a city.Its advertising says, “i-LAND. Where future lives.”
Maybe ‘future’ is a curvy female rock star I have not had the privilege of meeting.
3. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, spends millions on the Department of AYUSH (alternative medicine).
Its advertising gives this url for their web site: www.indianmedecine.nic.in
Which means the poor sod who tries to log in will definitely need a homeopathic remedy to reduce hyperventilation and stress.
4. Several diet brand ads display men with six-pack-abdomens and invite me to loose weight.
5. All advertisements and packaging in India (and only in India) use the word upto. Actually I am exaggerating: roughly two in 1000 do use the correct version.
If by now you have not spotted anything wrong in the examples, you may want to stop reading.
Or you might join the Argument for Incorrect Language.
The argument goes like this: if the reader cannot spot the error, and if the communication is doing its job, ‘what goes of your father?’ or in plain English, why bother?
My reply is this: the common Indian may make several errors because using the language correctly is not of much value to her; but the mass media communication specialist is a specialist, being paid good money by the client to be correct.
And the argument is as applicable in other languages. Most of the Aarey Milk Booths in Mumbai spell doodh (correct) as dudh (incorrect): so neither copywriters nor the Government can spell correctly! This in a city that goes up in flames for the cause of Marathi.
Do I sound like a disgruntled old man desperately clinging on to old-fashioned values? I am not. I am a worried old man.
I am worried that there is a more insidious undercurrent in the AIL: I believe the AIL is one more symptom of a society that no longer values genuine quality.
Our bridges collapse, our roads are actually interconnected potholes, our ‘wrinklefree’ trousers are not wrinkle-free, our cashless mediclaim policy is not cashless...
And yet, when demanded of us, the same set of Indians deliver the highest quality:one of the brands chlorophyll had the privilege of redefining was re-named Exactus, because the organization actually had the guts to offer 100% error-free transcription to all their clients in the US!
On the Mysore campus of Infosys, while conducting a workshop on creativity, I notice that every single 1 cm X 1 cm tile near the swimming pool is perfectly aligned.
It’s not about ability; it’s about attitude.
There is now a new word associated with India.
The positive association of that word is managing with frugal means; but the negative association is of trying to pass off poor quality (remember CWG?) because we hate to plan well or because we are in a hurry to sell something, anything, and become rich, future be damned.
That is worse than misspelling.
It is making a virtue of a vice.
If you don’t agree, write back: in any language ;-)