Your words carry weight, Dr. James | Letters to the Editor

In his May Day column, Dr. Winford James wondered how an Indian parent could name a child Hardik, Dikshit or Harshit.

Several readers wondered how this linguist could assess Hindi names based on their resemblance to English words. Dr James responded with an “apology to the Hindu community”, in his May 8 Guardian column, confusing the Hindu religion with the Hindi language.

However, even his apology to the Hindu community was totally misplaced because his clever ridicule of Hindi names did not just offend Hindus but all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who believe in the importance of this line in our anthem national, “Here every creed and race find an equal place”.

In his apology, Dr James noted the “anger and pain” expressed in some of the criticisms of his analysis. Does he condemn these messengers?

I was one of those who reacted and instead of being angry and hurt, I was very disappointed that a linguistics professor and columnist from UWI (University of the West Indies) could indulge in such a reckless and public parody of Hindi names.

Additionally, despite being an apology, Dr James defended his column by saying his article was based on “vague assumptions”.

His vague assumption was that the British colonizers created and imposed these names on the Indians. But Dr. James must know that these names date back centuries before the English language was developed.

The very term “loose assumptions” suggests that Dr. James based his article on assumptions, assumptions or suppositions, in order to flatter the few in society whose minds linger in ancient times when it was normal to ridicule foreigners, minority groups and the physically infirm.

It is to our credit as a nation that we have largely abandoned these vile provisions.

Dr. James needs to realize that as a columnist his words carry weight, especially among less critical thinkers, and he should exercise more responsibility in what he writes. He has no right to expose his readers to vague hypotheses.

David Subran


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