June 09, 2005

Burgers & Bun Kababs

The Bezels of Wisdom has an interesting post on the hybrid Urdu-English that is becoming popular in Pakistan. Of course, Urdish or Engdu, or whatever you choose to call it has much in common with Hinglish, but the slang words are uniquely Pakistani.
Some English words have totally localised meanings. Take 'burger' for example. A TV show of the 80s assumed that a burger was the apogee of western sophistication. Today a 'burger' refers to any westernised Pakistani (like me ?) in a derisory but humourous manner. My local radio channel has a show where anyone using an English word becomes a Burger right away.
Check out this forum for an entertaining discussion on the essential differences between abcds, burgers, mummy-daddies, tommies and other breeds. Wannabe burgers are sometimes called bun kababs after the cheap, street version of the burger. The finer nuances of class in Karachi feature in this story from Chowk:
At a party, after two people were introduced:

First: I live in Defence. Where do you live?

Second: I live in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.

First: What? Don't mind but that's a terrible place and you look the elite, you know, burger-sort.

Second: I used to live in Defence when I was young.

First: Oh, that's why!

The second one thinks, 'So, does the shifting turn the burger into a bun kebab?'

(Ayesha Hoda Ahmad, Illiteracy After Education - Part I)

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