New Words

10 Jun

I have learned two new words since I came to Pakistan.

The first one is misscall. It is a very interesting development, because it is also used as a verb. It is amusing to hear someone say, did you misscall me? The source of this word is economy: when the credits on your cell phone are running low, you don’t call, you misscall. You dial the number and let it ring a couple of times, but hang up before the call is answered, letting the phone mark your call as a ‘missed call’. More often than not, the person will call you back, at her expense, of course.

The other word is dacoit. Newspapers are always full of the word (a sad state of affairs, actually), as they recount the latest robberies and police busts. The word sounds mysterious to my ears, with that old-world, dark and spicy feeling of British India. I have no romantic notions about colonialism, coming from a region that was brutally colonized, but the word still conjures for me visions of this country as it once was. It sounds like a word I would find in places like my favorite Sherlock Holmes story, The Crooked Man, or The Glass Castle, the romance novel that when I was a girl inspired many of my dreams of travel and adventure.

It’s been interesting to see how language is changed by culture and environment. It can be puzzling, like when people use the word ‘weak’ to mean thin, especially when referring to children; but most of the times it’s charming, like when I saw a sign at the front of a bus that said Well Come, and then, when my husband alerted me, I turned to see at the back the corresponding Well Go.

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