Sunday, March 30, 2008

Old Lady, What Ails Thou?

Well, India’s leading newspaper has done the forbidden thing, which I couldn’t have imagined any newspaper doing. I have been observing it for a few days now. My favourite newspaper has headlines in SMS-ese these days, yes, that hated word for all respecters of good writing, of good English. Most people in literary forums of which I am a member just detest SMS-ese, as they feel it is beneath them to shorten words that they would find comfortable in a short message on the mobile phone. (Confession: I have written a short story and won an award with my “Flirting in Short Messages” but I have never used SMS-ese anywhere in this story, because I don’t like the language, and rarely use it, if ever.)

The headline on page 5 of Times of India dated March 29, 2008 reads:

“Only 2 directors of mgmt colleges have varsity nod.”

Note the mgmt above, short for management. (I don’t have a scanner or I would have scanned it and reproduced it here.) If the aim was to shorten the headline to save space then why not:

“Only 2 directors of management colleges have approval.”

Or, well, something such….

You don’t have to say the entire story in the headline (I am saying this because I have been a sub-editor myself and know the hazards and pitfalls of writing captions). You can generate interest in the headline and inspire readers to read further.

What is reprehensible is not the shortening of the word as much as the entry this headline has given to the popular culture that centres around mobile phones, dull, tasteless jokes, and even duller SMS poems. I am sure no newspaper in the world will give such language even a backdoor entry into their hallowed precincts, then what about our own old lady of Bori Bunder? Old lady, its time to introspect.

No comments: