Thursday, August 18, 2016


Our English newspapers began using this word, vigilante, during the last few weeks. The Prime Minister's speech denouncing theself-proclaimed Go-Rakshaks (protectors of cows) was reported on August 8, 2016 I asked some acquaintances if they its meaning. Most did not. Some made a guess, mostly not correct. 

The online dictionaries say:
(noun) any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.
(adjective) done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meaning of Clandestine, Acquitted

Most journalists presume that readers understand words used in the newspapers. Recently, I came across friends and acquaintances who said they did not understand these words which appear frequently in our newspapers:
 Acquitted: Salman Khan was acquitted:

 In this context To free from a charge or imputation of guilt:
It means also the following: absolveclearexculpateexoneratevindicate.

Quid pro quo
A reciprocal exchange,
something given in compensation, especially an advantage or object given in exchange for 


clothing put on to hide one's true identity or imitate someone or something synonyms disguise, costume, guise
Clandestine:   done in a private place or way : done secretly

Saturday, July 23, 2016

purple patch

The Times of India used this phase in its front page infographics on July 23, 2016 

After a record-shattering IPL, Virat Kohl's purple patch continues. 

I have not come across this phrase. Did you know its meaning and origin? tells us this:


'Purple patches', which are also sometimes called 'purple passages' or 'purple prose', were originally a figurative reference to florid literary passages, added to a text for dramatic effect. They were the literary equivalent of adding a patch of purple material to an otherwise undecorated garment. Purple was chosen because, as well as being a distinctive colour, it was the colour reserved for emperors and other distinguished statesmen in imperial Rome. Most of the early references to 'purple patches' contain clear evidence of classical origins, many of them including Latin text.
The first person I can identify as having used 'purple patch' in print in English was no less an author than Elizabeth I. In 1598, Queen Elizabeth translated Horace's Latin text De Arte Poetica and this was published in 1899 as part of Queen Elizabeth's Englishings:
Oft to beginnings graue and shewes of great is sowed A purple pace, one or more for vewe.
[Note: 'Purple pace' was the translation of the original 'purpureus pannus'. 'Pace' meant 'passage'.]
Purple patchMany works of art and scholarship that are listed as the creation of various English monarchs weren't actually their own work, the attributions being merely a form of flattery. However, Elizabeth benefited from the Tudor notion that aristocratic women were suitable recipients of formal education and her mother, Anne Boleyn, made sure that "she wolde endewe her with the knowlege of all tounges, as Hebrue, Greeke, Latyne, Italian, Spanishe, Frenche" [and, judging by Elizabeth's signature, caligraphy]. The queen became a noted Latin scholar and we can be assured that the translation (and wouldn't it be nice if we still used the Tudor word 'Englishing' for translations into English?) was by her own hand.
The term 'purple patch' wasn't much used again until the 18th century, at which time literary critics valued evenness of pace and style in literary works. Unevenly written texts were singled out for censure and 'purple patch' was the ideal label for a passage that stood out as overly florid. This idea was expressed forcibly in the 1704 book of literary criticism The True Tom Double:
All a Man writes should be proportion'd Even and of a piece; and one Part of the Work should not so far out-shine, as to Obscure and Darken the Other. The Purple Patches he claps upon his Course Style, make it seem much Courser than it is.
It wasn't until the 20th century that 'purple patches' were used in relation to anything other than writing. The term then came to mean 'a period of good fortune or creativity'. An early example is cited in the newspaper The Westminster Budget, October 1900:
True, it is hardly to be counted a purple patch of history, but a man must surely blame himself if he does not find something epic in the struggle. [of the common people]   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ledes five publications of July 5, 2015

Newspapers today front paged stories on UPSC toppers, Ira Singhal being the leader among them. Lead (lede) of the stories highlighted success of a differently abled young woman in UPSC examination. Ira is the first physically challenged woman to achieve the success. Not only that, it also spoke of four girls being the top rankers.
I carried readability test on the leads of some newspapers and websites of two news channels. What is readability test? ( )
The focus was on which publications wrote leads that were easy to understand. Which lead had minimum words, and how did each of these leads fare in the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tests.
The Times of India’s lead today has 51 words, as against the advice of veterans between 15 to 25 words in a sentence. (NEVER make an intro verbose- let it not exceed 25 words. (Jyoti Sanyal in Write it Right). Better to aim for an average of 15-20 words throughout. (Martin Cutts in Oxford Guide to Plain English). The ToI, thus, has lede with the worst readability score among the leads of publications studied today:

Following are the statistics of leads

Number of words
in the lead
Number of sentence
Number of
Flesch Reading Ease
Grade Level
Times of India
While the glass ceiling in the civil services was broken long ago, it was resoundingly shattered on Saturday when women secured the top four positions in the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination 2014, with the No 1 rank-holder, Ira Singhal, also being a differently abled achiever, which is a first.  
Indian Express
Singhal on Saturday became the first differently abled woman to top the civil services examination in which women took the top four positions.
Hindustan Times
Ira Singhal became the first physically challenged candidate to top the civil services examination that saw women take the top four ranks on Saturday. And giving Delhi something to cheer about, three of these women — including Singhal — are from the Capital. 
Ira Singhal, a physically handicapped IRS officer from Delhi, topped the Civil services examination in which the top four positions went to women.
Delhi's Ira Singhal topped the Union Public Services Commission civil services exam this year. But celebrations at her home are a little muted, as her parents are apprehensive about whether she will get a posting.
Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, "strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from indomitable will." A strong will power can take you places and Ira Singhal has proved it once again.
Differently-abled Singhal topped the 2014 Union Public Service Commission Civil Services Examination becoming a role model for one and all. Singhal is currently working as an Indian Revenue Service officer after clearing the 2011 exam. She has also done her MBA from Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


It is not usual that a newspaper uses a word more than once in headlines in a day's copy.

The Times of India did that in the issue dated July 1, 2015 (I noticed it in Pune edition). On page one second lead, we read a headline:
Ignored by govts, villagers
Crowdfund Rs. 1 crore bridge

Then. on page 14 of the same issue, we have the following headline:

Briton launches crowdfunding
rescue mission, raises $72,000
The website, tells us that 

Crowdfunding is the activity or process of raising money from a large number of number of people, typically through a website, for a project or small business. 
In case of story of the first headline, there was no website involved. Story under the second headline, however, it was online crowdfunding.

The headlines attracted my attention also because, the word crowdfunding is of recent origin, perhaps between year 2005 and 2010. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fellowship for Indian Journalists in Bonn, Germany

Dr Ujjwala Barve has sent in the following for the benefit of young Indian journalists. Please pass it on to others who might be interested. kiran thakur

Deutsche Welle’s DW Akademie is planning a multimedia Meeting and Exchange Project for Indian Journalists. The one-and-a-half month fellowship is supported by Germany’sRobert Bosch Stiftung and will take place in Bonn, Germany from September 10 to October 26, 2012.
Multimedia journalistsThe project aims to support Indian journalists in providing authentic, extensive and insightful coverage of Germany. It will offer participants valuable background knowledge for reporting on Indian-German issues.
Journalists selected for the program will receive intercultural and journalistic training, as well as insight into Deutsche Welle’s multimedia editorial teams. Participants will also work on putting together a multimedia project on the topic ‘Sustainability’.
DW Akademie will carry the costs of the course, airfare, travel expenses, accommodation and health insurance. Costs for meals, laundry and other personal expenses must be paid for by the participant or his/her employer. DW Akademie will pay a supplement of 10 EURO per day to cover daily expenses.
Applicants for this project must fulfill the following requirements:
·    Citizens of India between the ages of 25 and 35 years,
·    Completed training as a journalist (traineeship, journalistic degree from a university or institution of further education) and/or at least three years of applicable professional experience in a relevant medium,
·    Very good English skills in addition to very good skills in one or several of the languages Hindi, Bengali and Urdu.
Applicants will need to submit an online application form, work samples and a letter of recommendation. You can fill in your application form here.
The deadline for submission is July 22, 2012.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Riposte, Demur, Satrap

Today’s newspapers carry a story based on L K Advani’s blog post of May 31, 2012.

I have doubts if ordinary readers will understand meanings of some words journalists used in the narratives. 
Consider these by the ToI:

Estrangement (perhaps, in the present context, souring of relations would have been easier)

Riposte  (sharp reply)

Demurred (objected)

Satraps: an absolute or tyrannical ruler; autocrat or tyrant. A governor of a province under the ancient Persian monarchy. A subordinate ruler, often a despotic one. 

Can one club together Narendra Modi, and former chief ministers B S Yeddyruappa and Vasundhararaje Scindia, as this reporter has done, if we go by this dictionary meaning?