How to swear with love: team seeks suggestions

How to swear with love: team seeks suggestions

The Gaali Project is looking for alternatives to angry words that show no regard for gender sensitivity and social inclusivity

Reforming India’s vocabulary with one work of discontent at a time is the goal of social media page ‘The Gaali Project’. 

Run by former colleagues Neha Thakur and Tamanna Mishra, it addresses misogynistic words and seeks to replace them with less sexist and more robust terms. 

Bengaluru-based communications consultant Tamanna says, “In the last couple of years, we’ve been noticing that there is a lot of progressive content coming up, but the language they use is either stagnant or regressive.”  She believes the anonymity of social media makes people believe they have a ‘free pass’ to abuse women and the minorities.

“The irony is that the same Indian languages already had words to express frustration and disagreement without sounding misogynistic,” she adds. 

The duo started ‘The Gaali Project’ in September 2020 and its fan base is slowly building up. 

Airbnb host Neha says, “We crowdsourced the content and passed around a Google Form. In the first month itself, we received more than 800 entries.” 

The team spoke to native language speakers and researched the roots of the words suggested. 

“For example, in Malayalam ‘pottan’ means ‘fool’ but the usage is misogynistic as it can be used to call someone a sissy,” explains Neha. She recommends the Gujarati word ‘gelsappa’ which simply means an idiot. The words collected for the project are posted on a Facebook page. 

“Most of the creatives are done by Neha but we’ve recently started working with a few design interns,” says Tamanna. 

The idea is to encourage people to swear but with love, she says.

Healthy swear words

Kannada: Kivi Mele Hoovo
Meaning: You really think I am that innocent?

Hindi: Patli gali se nikal le
Meaning: Get lost

Tamil: Aiyo mudiyala
Meaning: I can’t tolerate this anymore!

Malayalam: Krimi Kadi
Meaning: Itching caused by a worm, usually used in the context of jealousy

(Compiled by The Gaali Project)