Now, you may ask me what the ‘Ra-da-ification’ in the title means. I feel this is best to explain by means of a simple social experiment.
Call up one of your South Indian friends and ask them to pronounce the name ‘Rathore’. The friend will dutifully pronounce it as Rathore. Well, yeah, we know our English-Vinglish Phonetics well.
Call up one your North Indian friends (what my twitter brethren would friendly call as an ‘Amit’). He would without hesitation pronounce it as ‘Rathode’. Yes, as in Cathode.
Ah. I see half of my south Indian friends stare in disbelief at the apparent ‘wrong’ pronunciation; and the other half smiles smugly with a ‘been-there-given-up’ look.
When I encountered this for the first time, when I was working in Noida, I, being the freshly minted engineer, tried to use my maximum level analytical capability (however low that may be, but the fullest of it) to try to get to the bottom of it. This *ahem* curious case of ra-da-ification happens in several words and not limited to nouns (which purists might argue need not be bound by rigid phonetic rules). The one other similar word that still brings a terror among engineering folks from the South to an esteemed college in Uttaranchal – Roorkee. Yes. Roorkee as we all called it, but were shocked to be corrected as Rudkee. Unfortunately, having given up the fight quite a long while ago, I do not remember any non-nouns to list in this blog post today.
I tried asking my Delhi friends about this, since it seemed to be a very Delhi specific thing. But soon, I realized that it is not a geographical problem, but a linguistic problem, that I had set out to solve. Even those who were not from Delhi, but went to their ‘gaon’ for their holidays – aka other folks from North India who worked in Delhi.
Some folks tried telling me that, it is a special kind of ‘da’. But tell me, is the phonetic for the English letter ‘D’ closer to (whatever kind of) ‘da’ or is the phonetic for the English letter ‘R’ closer. My 4 year old will tell me ‘D for ddadadaaada’.
It must also be noted that, not every ra is da-ified. It is slyly made so on in unsuspecting areas. And yes, I did research deep into finding if there are any grammatical rules when I should say it as da vs ra. Is it got to do anything with masculine or feminine? Nope (thank God, that is another of those difficult things in Hindi – A bus is masculine whereas a train is feminine – Dont ask !!). So, does it got it do with nouns only? Nope. At last I thought I found it. It is da only when there is already a ra in the word preceding it – like in Rathore and Roorkee. The hindi fraternity pointed out a few exceptions with ease. Back to head bang time.
I still recall distinctly the day I gave up this fight. It was the day when one of coworkers took pity on me and made this comment —
There are no rules for this thing. It just comes to us over generations. We call it rathode because our grandparents also called it so. It is a neat way for us to figure out the native hindi speakers from the non-native hindi speakers.
Phew, Not only did that prove to me that this was an intractable problem, but also gave me a false sense of bravado. The sense of pride that, some of us were so good at Hindi, that they needed some complex codification solution to figure us out.
There are still some times, when it gets me – like for example – Ninja Hatori is a Japanese comic character that plays regularly on the Pogo channel. When you turn it to Hindi voice over, the great folks at Tata Sky now call it “Ninja Hatodi”. Aaaahhhhhhhhh. Just for the sake of getting back all of those frustrated moments, I now take sporadic revenge by making my North Indian friends say Vaazha pazham in Tamizh.