Friday, June 16, 2017


There are expressions like 'blood, sweat and tears' ascribed to Sir Winston Churchill, 'terminological inexactitude' (meaning bluff) - again a Churchill coinage - used by Richard Nixon and 'wardrobe malfunction' used by singer Janet Jackson to explain away her (deliberate) indecent exposure as accidental or 'We knocked the bastard off' exclaimed by Sir Edmund Hillary on conquering the Everest. The expression 'farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies' has been catapulted into the big league.

I first came across the word 'farrago' in 'Lucknow Boy', the autobiography of the inimitable Vinod Mehta who, in his illustrious career, has edited several publications ranging from Debonair to Outlook. The word suddenly became popular all over the country when Shashi Tharoor used it a couple of days back while referring to the audio tapes released by Arnab Goswami of Republic TV. (Frankly, Tharoor often does send me scurrying to my Oxford Dictionary!)

Tharoor's detractors lost no time in ensuring that he did not score any brownie points for his vocabulary. They researched and came to the earth-shaking conclusion that Tharoor is not the first to use the word. (It was as though Tharoor had made such a claim!) It had been, they claimed, used by journalist Mehdi Hasan (implying, indirectly, but incorrectly, that he was the first to use it.)

Why don't we just to learn to accept that 'farrago' is an English word which neither Mehdi Hasan nor Shashi Tharoor coined and that neither has a copyright over it? You want to put a man down ; so you use all tricks in your bag to run him down!

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