Work in Progress (No, really)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mirchi lagi

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This is a phrase used and one could argue that's its unique usage has been forged solely by my brother.

If I was to offer a meaning, and translation (or meaning-in-translation), it would be like this:

mirchi lagi:

  • to become hot, in a modern, pop culture fashion.
    • Person 1:  y0 man, I scored 6 goals today.
    • Person 2: damn mirchi lagi. -high fives- That's hot y0.
Grammatically, I would argue that it's the direct object, more than the subject which is the the target of the so-called "mirchi lagi-ing." If it was the subject, we'd need some milk. Not that crappy, 2% or 1% or 2.5% that's supposedly around in Germany. No, we're talking about the good stuff -- homo milk. But I digress.
                                                                                         It's an quirky phrase. It did spread in the household for a while. (I wasn't there though so not like it really affects me). If you ever see someone use it, make sure to tell them my brother made it and not them. (Yeah, the phrase just got claimed).                                          
Canada has some good milk.

Anyways, it is interesting to see how words and meanings take on different meanings, especially amongst the diaspora. I doubt he'd have ever come up with something like if he was in Pakistan. Which brings up another point -- using language properly. My brother's term is probably on the borderline of acceptable (or rather accepted) use of a word or phrase. Beyond this border is incorrect language use. I'm not talking about colloquial verses formal, but rather just plain-old wrong (or maybe "too wrong" is the correct term).

I remember in my earlier Persian courses, a few kids  (Persian) would come in to the class knowing how to read and write, while others (also Persian) wouldn't know how to read or write. The reason for the difference? (Aside from logical answers like parents, upbringing, environment, etc. etc.) The legendary Saturday school that they learned Persian in as children. (So basically all the logical answers apply.) I remember our mosque tried that a few times, and it ended up failing for different reasons each time (however, it did run for a small duration each time). Not that this has much to do with my point. Then why are you telling them this! 

Try to learn your own language, and a few other ones. Like milk, it's good for you. (Well supposedly milk is good for you, but the truth may be different. At least after weening. Future blog post to come on this issue!). More importantly, almost as a direct consequence or learning another language, you'll begin to examine how language is used -- both verbally and in text. Your perception becomes more variable. It doesn't broaden, but rather you gain the ability to pick-apart things and focus in on things that others may not give a moment's thought.

In addition, it makes you (not lets you!) think about things like this mirchi lagi business. Is it right? Is it wrong? How wrong? What would have influenced the creation of such a phrase. (The answer being "that's hot.") Does the phrase carry over (can it become "socially viral")?

We use language so much, and so rarely do the majority of us think about things. Often we do think about what we say, but less thought goes into how we say it. Certain situations arise where we do give thought into how we say things (historical papers, writing stories, etc.) but even, some of us don't give it as much thought.

I'm not even going to touch Freudian slips. This is supposed to be meaningless post meant for you laugh at the phrase, mirchi lagi and to think about how you language in your daily life. Beyond, that find a good linguistics and/or psychology program. And milk (to make chai of course, and kheer, which is an interesting semi-related topic for another post).

What I will touch upon though is poetry. Poetry is more or less the art of the "how" part of language.

  ہیں اور بہی دنیا میں سخنور بہث اچہے
 کہثے ہیں کہ غالب کا انداز بیاں اور ہے
Other poets do exist in this world who are skilled,
They say  Ghalib's manner of speech is of its own*

I won't say poetry is dead, though I do think good poetry is harder and harder to come by. Good poetry may just be inversely related to free speech. (I thought I'd give the math and/or engineering fanboys something to laugh at). But in today's society, poetry is in its own dimension. If someone asks how you are, you don't (well normally you don't) say you're like the snow the of yesterday facing the the rising sun. That was too much dude. 

If you've ever heard this phrase used in this sense, and want to totally destroy my entire post. Please do comment so. It'd be interesting....and disheartening...but not too anti-depressant disheartening...maybe a little heart-burn. But Cheerios can fix that, I think.


  1. The phrase 'Mirchi lagi', from what I understand, doesn't stand for its literal translation. I believe it connotes more of the impact of tasting crisp mirchi on our tongues i.e. not taking it well and highly uncomfortable. See I was googling to see where and how people use this phrase and hence I landed here. I wanted to use it for my Pakistani friend who is obviously very upset because of today's cricket match. Definitely unko mirchi lagi hai!