Indian slang: Use of the word 'cool'

Lately I've been obsessing about the usage of English by urban Indians. We have definitely evolved the language to fit into our culture, and added words wherever required. "vaat" is a good example, and "jugaad" is another. As far as I know, different regions have their own slang. Living in Pondicherry I'm learning my very own tamil-english slang ^_^ Till now I know that "chinna" means little, so you would say "chinna coke" to order the small bottle. Its easy to pick up, and I hadn't even realized I've picked up so much of the slang.

A word that I feel is common is "cool" - clearly an English word, does the meaning of "cool" change in India? Does the context of our culture give it an additional/different meaning? In America, "Obama" recently became synonimous with "cool." This was quite amazing to me since nothing in politics can ever be considered cool to urban Indian youth. Words that come to mind are corrupt, futile, etc.

So what is cool in India?

Whenever I hit ambiguous roadblocks like this, wikipedia is usually the answer, and they have this to say:

"Cool is anĀ aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of theĀ Zeitgeist. Because of the varied and changing connotations of cool, as well its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning."

I like the use of the word aesthetic here, because it accurately describes what cool is. Its an attitude, a behavior, an aspiration that so many people (and corporations) strive towards. When you say something is cool, you mean its good, its a positive thing, something that is not just good, but unique and different.

Another way to get at the root of "cool" is to look at what is "uncool." Uncool is when your really sad, pathetic, corrupt, criminal, caught doing something totally against the social norms of your circle (depends on the crowd since in some situations you could be cool doing things that are rebellious/unexpected.)

So in the end I can conclude that cool is definitely good, nothing to do with politics ever, at times rebellious and invidividual and different and subjective. ^_^

Couldn't really find any credible dictionaries of Indian slang (too many errors in most of them) - let me know if any of you have seen any. This looked like the best one but its totally incomplete.

Aditi KulkarniComment