Saturday, June 28, 2003


THE latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English recognises Bollywood, along with many other neologisms as belonging to the English corpus. Some words that feature here are recognised while some are used but are not to be found in it. With the passage of time perhaps all these words will also find their way to legitimacy, given the march of society.

An education mortgage is a mortgage that covers the cost of a student’s university or college education and is paid back over an extended period, similar to a residential mortgage. It could also be the debt that a student holds at the end of university or college education. So far, the term is restricted to the West, but the fast pace of young life in our country could make it common here, too. As it is, sadgrad, (a recent university graduate who is deeply in debt and has few or no good job prospects) a typical Western entity, has started making its presence felt in our society.

New avatars
June 7, 2003
May 24, 2003
Once upon a time...
May 10, 2003
Gifts from writers
April 26, 2003
Creative destruction
April 12, 2003
Language triumphs
March 29, 2003
March 15, 2003
Describing people
March 1, 2003
A living language
February 15, 2003
The New Year - III
February 1, 2003

Paraeducator is a teaching assistant, particularly one who works individually with children who have special language or learning needs. This word combines the prefix para, which means ‘assistant’ here, and educator (someone who educates, a professional teacher). Some paraprofessionals are paralegals and paramedics. In the 1970s and 1980s, New York University had established a Para-Educator Center for Young Adults.

Fuzzy maths refers to the mathematics education that de-emphasises memorisation and rote learning in favour of a cooperative approach to solving problems. This new approach to teaching maths first appeared in the late ’80s, and it didn’t take long for the various names applied to it to split into two camps. Those in favour of the new methodology called it ‘constructivist’, ‘integrated maths’, ‘whole maths’ or ‘new new maths.’ Those opposed to it, labelled it ‘fuzzy maths’ in 1994 or ‘Mickey Mouse maths,’ ‘maths lite’ or ‘algebra lite.’

Ethnomathematics is maths as practised by non-western ethnic groups and marginalised groups within the western society. Ethnomathematics was the general name mathematician Ubiratan D’Ambrosio of Brazil coined for the study of concepts, practices, and artefacts through which were discovered mathematical elements among peoples living outside or on the margins of western culture. The idea was to look at ‘exotic’ forms of mathematics as an intrinsic element of the civilisations in which they have flourished, well worth studying for their own sake. This neologism is created in the tradition of ethnobotany, ethnoarchaeology, ethnomusicology and ethnoscience, all fuelled by the same intention.

Professional courses and degrees have created words like just-in-time-learning that refers to the acquisition of knowledge and skills as and when they are needed. There is also the just-in-time-lifestyle, in which people expend only the minimum effort to complete a task and rush from one appointment to another. And, how can politics be left behind? There is the just-in-time-politics, a form of politics in which ad hoc coalitions and relationships are built around issues instead of parties or ideologies. Sounds familiar?


The Hindi kaksha is used in the sense of class or classroom. ‘Tum kaunsi kaksha mein parhte ho? Chalo kaksha mein chalo!’ Students will be amused to learn that the original Sanskrit kaksha referred to the chain used for tying an elephant, a rope, a wall or an enclosed space like a room. The Hindi word is a more recent development and developed from the sense of a room, naturally after the evolution of proper educational institutions.

This feature was published on June 21, 2003