March 21, 2023

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Bombay Versus Delhi, Mumbai Versus Bombay, ‘Tu’ Versus ‘Aap’…it never ends, does it

2 min read

Language is like air, we don’t see it most of the times, till we sense a little bit of pollution.

While Mumbai AQI levels reach Delhi degrees of concern, the differences in language between the perennial pop culture foes have brough one of the bones of contention and its pollution into focus once again

Twitter users were quick to point out how things work in Mumbai, as far as addressing someone you first meet, as opposed to other parts of the country, when one aggrieved customer felt disrespected by a bus conductor when he was addressed as ‘Tu’ on being asked to keep it moving.

Perhaps the person was new to Mumbai and did not know how we do, perhaps he just didn’t like the way people in Mumbai speak, perhaps he misunderstood.

All valid points. The larger point is about ‘othering’ and how we still need to point out the differences in the way people communicated in different parts of the country.

Aap’ is most formal form of ‘you,’ reminiscent of the Lucknowi tehzeeb, but many of the youth in Lucknow acknowledge that this is a dying phenomenon as colloquialism is on the rise among Gen Z.

So you’re more likely to hear ‘cap’ instead of ‘aap‘ in the old bastions of linguistic propriety.

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Tum‘ is a less formal form of ‘you’ used more as a way of opening doors into an inner circle, hearing this form of address implies you can hang.

Tu is the mot du jour, everyday life, sliced version of addressal, used by close friends, with ‘tum’ and ‘aap‘ being used as you go up the seniority ladder. This is as true of a gang of pals and gals in Delhi, as much as it is in a Mumbai ‘paltan.

Tu is famililarty, respect and ‘apnapan‘ in Mumbai/Bombay pidgin. In the case of Mumbai, as common as English is on the streets, you are more likely to hear the hierarchy-removed ‘you’ as a form of addressal between friends, lovers or nothing, like bus conductors who on Mumbai’s BEST buses are mostly of the professorial sort a lot of times.

Many feel that the overuse of formalities are killing the essence of human bonding in an already social media heavy, screen-staring and screen-sharing world, so there is a certain charm in being informal with someone you barely.

Tereko samjha na, boss?


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