|Saturday, December 15, 2001||
THE political arena has a lingo of its own. Words can often convey more than just a literal meaning. When the tussle was on for power in America, a journalist wrote, "It remains to be seen whether Bush will be gored or Gore will be bushed!" The name of the writer of these words eludes my memory, but one can be forgiven for memory lapses. Bushed in American English means completely exhausted and gored is from the field of bull fighting, it means pierced by the horns of a bull.
A kakistocracy is a
government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. It is
made up of the Greek kakistos, meaning worst, and kratos, meaning
rule or power. A stalking-horse would be common in such a
government, stalking-horse being a relatively new term in politics. A
stalking-horse is a decoy, something used to cover up one’s true
purpose or, a sham candidate put forward to conceal the candidacy of
another or, to divide the Opposition. The word comes from the register
of hunting where a horse was often trained to conceal the hunter while
stalking a prey.
The ballot we cast today comes from the Italian ballota or little ball. Ballot, for us, is a sheet of paper we mark and drop in a box on election day, unless we are dealing with electronic voting machines. The ancient Greeks dropped a white ball of stone or metal or shell in a container for the candidate selected and a black one for the one rejected. This also explains the custom of blackballing people, that is ostracising them.
Adding new meanings to words is
frequently due to the attempt of language to cope with and express all
the growing branches of human knowledge. The Sanskrit mantrin is
one familiar with Vedic hymns, a magician or a secret-keeper. The
Hindi mantrin is also a minister and secretary. The Sanskrit pradhana
is a chief minister or a commander-in-chief while the Hindi pradhana
is also president of a body.