Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Technology leads to coinage of yet another term: Mobile Lifters!

The photograph above is displayed outside the well-known Veena Stores in Malleswaram, Bangalore. This is a small store which sells idlies, vadas and exquisite south Indian coffee, over the counter, to the people on the street sidewalk. I have not tasted better idlies and coffee elsewhere!

This morning, while drinking my cup of coffee, I noticed the sign above. Well! There is yet another "English" term coined in India, I thought! I did a Google search for the term "mobile lifter". It appears that it is mainly used to refer to lifting-devices of various kinds that are also mobile. I guess that Indians inventing a term to refer to the stealing of mobile phones is only to be expected.  This country has the world's second largest collection of cell phones, for one thing!

I also looked up the Rice University's Dictionary of neologisms (you can guess the meaning of this word, in case you didn't know :=). Most of the words in this dictionary are dangerous for Indian students to use. If you used them in your school, you will be expelled without ceremony!

Coming back to academic issues, the Rice University Dictionary does not give the etymology of the words it carries.

So, let me make a proposal: We need an online site, possibly a wiki, to define neologisms like a serious dictionary. I would also vote for some degree of control over the number of four letter words in it!

Oxford University Press, are you listening?

Srinivasan Ramani  

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