Pakistani comedic class terms

Via Language Log I came across this delightful conversation on some whimsical slang terms Pakistanis use to express class and class affectation. It's a hilarious exchange in its own right, and as a bonus it makes me think of similar terms in Nigeria (although I'm over a decade dated in my Naija slang).

[Mr. Fradia]: ...mummy-daddy refers to someone who is not [independent] enough etc. Burger is used more for ppl who are stuck up and wanna-be western types.

There are many terms for both in naija slang, but it makes me think of the term (originally Lagosian, I think) aje-butter, which refers to someone who is a soft, namby-pamby, mama's boy as a result of having lived too much of the supposed good life in the US, UK, etc. I know too well: I was viciously set upon as an aje-butter when we moved from Florida to Enugu, then Owerri, Nigeria in 1980.

[Zakiii]: I can understand someone wanting to Black/Latino but why English/American?

[Mr. Fradia (responding]: i suppose they want to be preppie rather than ghetto [<grin>]

This exchange intrigued me. As far as I can tell these folks are all living in Pakistan. I have been getting the sense recently that if US and UK culture seem to be universally soluble, that lately it's been urban Hip-Hop or yardie culture that has been filling the aspirational role for youngsters in developing nations. I was early to Hip-Hop, and while others in my class wanted to be like Madonna (Travolta was never really that big there, as I recall), I was aspiring more toward The Furious Five and the Treacherous Three. It looks like that dissonance was a microcosm of the trend that has culminated in statements such as "I can understand someone wanting to Black/Latino but why English/American?"

But is that a good thing, when it so often involves a gross distortion of what it really means to be Black or Latino in the US? I suppose Madonna as picture of America is no less a distortion.

[Mr. Fradia]: what teh diff between soemone pretending he is james dean versus someone pretending he is anil kapoor (god knows there are tons of them in karachi..or were rather) except that the james dean wanna be probably does not smell as bad.

[ravage]: Those who ape Anil Kapoor are known as arsewipes in our circle. Dunno if its a generally accepted term though.

Ouch. I was rolling in the aisles at this point. You can't get laughs like this on your local corner.

[ravage]: Mummy Daddy is a catalyst for burgerness, but one may be mummy daddy without strictly belonging to the latter class. For instance I have come across mummy-daddy abcds, Mummy Daddy paindoos, and Mummy Daddy Nawab sahabs.

And so it goes on through "galli ka londa types", "pindi walay" and always back to "burgher".

[sadzzz]: The term Burgher was applied during the period of Dutch rule to European nationals living in Sri Lanka... ...the so called burghars of india are called "anglos" [Hum Sa Ho To Samne Aaye (responding)]: Hey in Peshawar we call these kinda people "tommy" [<big grin>]

Back in Language Log Hobson Jobson is quoted as characterizing the term "burgher" (or "burghar") as follows.

The Dutch admitted people of mixt descent to a kind of citizenship, and these people were distinguished by this name from pure natives. The word now indicates any persons who claim to be of partly European descent, and is used in the same sense as 'halfcaste' and 'Eurasian' in India Proper.

I suppose that the two nuances of "burgher" in this entire thread tend to converge on the Hindi term "firanghi" (originally from Arabic, as I recall). And while I'm on "firanghi", I'm sure I'm not the only language geek that finds it hard to suppress a smile whenever the "Ferengi" show up on Star Trek TNG. The show was always cited for being culturally avant-garde, but not so often recognized for being culturally subversive.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia
2 responses
The "farang-" root doesn't just mean "Frank, Westerner, Crusader, Christian"; it also means "trader".  I think that's the sense the Star Trek folks had in mind.
It's not just Hip Hop, at least not in Iran. I was surprised to find a whole culture of metal heads. Reminded me of high school / early college; Metallica is still real big over there. Then there's the whole Pink Floyd clan...

Three of my cousins have learned to speak pretty good English purportedly by translating song lyrics.

Farangi means foreigner, particularly western, in common Farsi usage. No connotation of trader, although it may have had its origins in that.