Thursday, May 8, 2008
In the Land of the hetch (h)
Here the letter 'h' is pronounced commonly as 'hetch' with a lot of emphasis. This letter is very significant here, until I learn the local language and dig deeper into the psyche I won't be able to say why but I have some evidence. The 'h' appears here at places where it does not in the north. This I noticed specially in names- if made in the south a Hindi movie about twin sisters would be known as 'Sitha aur Githa' similarly the nightingale of India if born here would be known as Latha! Other names like Savitha, Kavitha, Lilitha etc all have the 'h' does this happen more for girls' names, I wonder. There was also an 'item girl' of yesteryears from the south called 'Silk Smitha'! Lastly who can forget J Jayalalitha of the neighbouring state. Clearly it has to do with the pronunciation of the south Indian languages. Sometimes though the 'h' looks out of place. There is a restaurant chain which we encountered at Madikeri by the name of 'Athithi'. Now, the word 'atithi' means guest and it has two similar sounding but distint sounds 'ti' and 'thi' now to make them both 'thi' makes the word sound odd and heavy. But the strangest one I encountered was while passing through Wilson Garden one day I saw boldly written on a banner- 'KARNATAKA MEGHA SALE' now what on earth is 'megha'? Megha is cloud in Hindi, so the use of the h in an English word might well turn it into a Hindi one!