Tharoor's language learning goes wrong in Malayalam

Tharoor's language learning goes wrong in Malayalam

Shashi Tharoor (PTI File Photo)

Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's challenge to learn one new word a day from an Indian language, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor tweeted his first word 'pluralism' with translations in two languages. However, his Malayalam translation of pluralism was incorrect.

Modi asked his audience at the Manorama News Conclave to learn one new word a day from an Indian language to reduce the communication gap between people in different regions of the country.

Tharoor tweeted Friday morning: "Prime Minister @NarendraModi ended his speech at the #manoramanewsconclave by suggesting we all learn one new word a day from an Indian language other than our own. I welcome this departure from Hindi dominance & gladly take him up on this #LanguageChallenge (sic)."

Following this tweet, Tharoor posted his first word 'pluralism' with Hindi and Malayalam translations. Pluralism in Hindi - 'bahulavaad' (बहुलवाद) - is correct in his tweet. However, in Malayalam, he used 'bahuvachanam' (ബഹുവചനം), which means plural. The word pluralism in Malayalam is 'bahuthwam' (ബഹുത്വം) or 'bahuswaratha' (ബഹുസ്വരത).

Earlier, during the Lok Sabha campaign, Tharoor caused a row after he used the word 'squeamish' to describe his experience in a fish market. The word squeamish can be translated into Malayalam as 'easily nauseated'. "Found a lot of enthusiasm at the fish market, even for a squeamish, vegetarian MP," he tweeted.

Later, he explained his 'squeamish' usage error with a screenshot from Google Translate for 'order delivered' for which the Malayalam translation said, "Kalpana prasavichu (Kalpana has given birth)". "For those Malayali leftist politicians who are currently having difficulty understanding my English," he tweeted, along with the screenshot.

The word pluralism has political undertones as the BJP Government led by Prime Minister Modi has been criticised for undermining the plural fabric of India with their policies. As a fierce critic of the Modi government, Tharoor might have cleverly chosen this word. Tharoor had written a book on Modi titled 'The Paradoxical Prime Minister', which criticised his policies.

However, a recent comment from Tharoor that praised Modi had invited scathing attacks from those in his own party.