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Desispeak gets hilarious online lexicography
SHWETA SHARMA  24th Jul 2011

Illustration by Rashmi Gupta | Dev Kabir Malik Design

he ongoing evolution of the English language makes for fascinating study. While the Oxford English Dictionary recently embraced Internet words like OMG and LOL; the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, has just released a book titled Chutnefying English: The Phenomenon of Hinglish. And finally, there is Samosapedia, which is tagged as the 'definitive guide to South Asian lingo.'

The website celebrates the quirky idiosyncrasies in South Asian lingo and answers all your colloquial linguistic queries. For instance, did you know what to call a boy in a bush shirt, formal pants, hawaai chappals with coconut oil dripping down his forehead? Sambhar George. Or, a candid photograph of a person with an exotic tourist landmark in the backdrop? Patel Shot.

South Asian cultural discourse today is dominated by Indians, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to create something truly inclusive that transcends regional boundaries while respecting and celebrating our highly localised culture and slang.

Samosapedia was started in October 2010 by Vikram Bhaskaran, Arun Ranganathan, Arvind Thyagarajan and Braxton Robbason, all clearly keen observers and documentarians of South Asian cultural practices. It catalogues and celebrates the rich, diverse and ever-evolving landscape of the region's shared vernacular.

"When Vikram and I first hashed out the idea of a 'dictionary' of our common desi-isms, we thought of calling it wonly.in, 'wonly in India' or even 'we are like this wonly'. But our idea was bigger than India and we wanted a unifying name. South Asian cultural discourse today is dominated by Indians, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to create something truly inclusive that transcends regional boundaries while respecting and celebrating our highly localised culture and slang. We had already registered the URL wonly.in. But suddenly we had a brainwave, Samosapedia, and thus began our adventure in poly-nation linguistic cross-pollination," says Ranganathan.

The website aims to be the biggest crowd-sourced dictionary of South Asian lingo in the world and allows people to submit words and rate their favourites. It gets a lot of interesting entries from Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, says Ranganathan.

"We encourage people to be rigorous and detailed without being overly verbose. And we want them to add playfulness and personal touch to their narrative here," Bhaskaran told Guardian20. Also, every day, it publishes one word under the Daily Chutney feature. "I was a huge fan of Urbandictionary.com, but I think its desi avatar is cooler. I'd want to come up with some cool entries to contribute to the site," says Jerin George, an advertising professional.

www.samosapedia.com
US Return: A necessary designation on your social resume if you are a bachelor in need of eligibility
Dau: Kannada slang for "lustful intent"; gap between lau [love] and dau is the saga of frustrated youth in Bangalore.
CHOM: CHapatti Oriented Man; engineering college slang for North Indian students who end up studying South of the Vindhyas
Kota: breeding ground of IITians, as it is widely regarded as the best place to prepare for the prestigious IIT JEE. Not to be confused with 'Quota'.

 
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