Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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This piece appears in the November 2014 issue of Herald

There’s Penglish which is Pakistani English which is, well, something. And then there is Ppenglish – Pakistani Punjabi English. Now, since I don’t speak Pashto, I cannot even say what that other Ppenglish would be. But knowing some Pakhtuns, all I know is that would really be something.

And with this I see smoke coming out of the ears of all those Pakhtuns who read this. Take it easy, chaps. But for goodness sake don’t take yourselves so seriously. That causes constipation.

We Punjabis are makers of wonders. Consider how we have taught the rest of Pakistan to run trawlers on the country’s highways. If we go by the half dozen or so English language newspapers, we have brought them in from the high seas where they trawled for fish and have them routinely careening up and down our highroads totally out of control. Every day we hear of a trawler or two involved in some accident or the other.

Here’s how we got the trawlers beached. Back in the 1970s a towed vehicle in Punjabi was ‘traila’. By the late 1980s the word had morphed into ‘traala’. But we Punjabis (especially crime reporters of English newspapers) know that ‘waater’ is incorrectly pronounced water so traala should also be trawler. And so with the blink of a blighted eye we got the ocean going fishing vessels involved in accidents with trains and lorries until most people will not believe you when you say trawlers are ships.

Then there is ‘ABC Poultry Form’. You’d think this was some kind of a form to be filled in for a record of the birds. But no. The standard Punjabi pronunciation of the English word ‘farm’ being ‘faarum’, it was only natural for it to become ‘form’ the same was as a ‘file’ magically transforms into ‘foil’ and off you go fencing. (I told you we Punjabis are miracle makers.)

We also have poultry ‘foam’. And when you make it big selling these ‘formy’ birds, you can build yourself a form house. The only form in such houses generally is extravagantly obscene exhibition.

Our best, and for this I cannot even credit Punjabis, is the pronunciation for faalij, the Arabic word for paralysis. In our keenness to alter the sound of a as in father to a as in water, we have invented a new word ‘faulij’ for the original Arabic. This, incidentally, is also the Penglish pronunciation for ‘foliage’. Happily, in order to suffer an attack of faulij, you do not even have to be semi-literate or Punjabi. You can hear doctors telling you how to prevent this debilitating disease.

Jokers, especially political jokers, are to be ‘loffed’ at in Punjabi. Loff at them all you want, especially at those who wear hairpieces that never go grey, have hair transplants and still appear bald and/or look as slimy as they actually are. That about includes the entire lot of them. But you ‘daunt’ loff at their funerals. Even if you prayed hard for all of them to die miserable, painful deaths.

But not content doing English in here at home, we are also teaching the Brits a thing or two. For example Watford, just outside London, is now Wut-ford. Chesham has taken the Persian form of Chashm for eye.

That is not all. We have also successfully transplanted Luddun from south Punjab to some ways northwest of London. By the time we Punjabis take over Old Blighty (and we Punjabi Muslims will, let there be no doubt) Luton will have appropriately re-written signboards. That is when the pubs of that once merry land will serve ‘points’ instead of pints of ale. And, mind, the consumption of the brew will be strictly clandestine.

PS. I just love it how Punjabis refrain from using the word bhen to refer to sisters. And that is because of the obscene cuss word prefixed with bhen, now peppering even normal Punjabi conversation. So a self respecting Punjabi will never tell you how many sistraan (nasal ending, please) he has.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 22 November 2014 at 20:12, Blogger NA said...

They always convert 'bhen' into 'hamsheera' as it is unrythmic to add the obscene 'cuss' word with it!

At 22 November 2014 at 21:29, Anonymous Saima said...


At 21 February 2016 at 15:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Entertaining yet enlightening to say the least!
Agha Abbas

At 21 February 2016 at 18:55, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Agha sahib!

At 30 March 2016 at 12:36, Blogger Noor Rathore said...

sistraan! I love that word!


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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