Saturday, October 22, 2005

Watch your man

Language is the armoury of the human mind, and at once contains trophies of its past and weapons of its future conquests,’ wrote S. T. Coleridge. These days, the most striking aspect of this armoury is the big way in which it has left the dictionary far behind. No dictionary can keep pace with the input coming into the lexicon daily. Every word is like another notch in the evolutionary journey of society. The Indian society is witnessing tremendous change and the following words document these changes.

Asexual, bisexual and heterosexual are narrow descriptions for the variegated individuals of today, so new words were required and have taken birth. Sexual, derived from the Latin sexus and meaning ‘genders’, has taken on a large number of prefixes to describe the many, many individual variants of lifestyle. Metrosexual was the first coinage to join the bandwagon, used for any urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. Mark Simpson invented this term in 1994 and it drifted slowly from one media source to another.

Then Simpson wrote another article about metrosexuals in the online magazine on July 22, 2002, and the term took off, soon to reach India. In pace with a fast-changing society, Simpson later adopted the word retrosexual (from a music album) to describe the man with an undeveloped aesthetic sense, spending as little time and money on himself as possible, a sort of antonym for metrosexual.

But, what about the hordes of common men, who are happy to be ordinary husbands, the ideal variety? The word ubersexual, coined with the prefix ‘uber’, meaning ‘the best kind’, was created for them. Then, another dilemma arose? What if a man is a combination of metro and uber? Well, no worries, another neologism came into being to describe the well-groomed ideal mate: ‘heteropolitan’. With the arrival of technology and its buffs came the new word ‘technosexual’, used for the man who has a strong aesthetic sense and a love for technology. Keep your eyes and ears ready… there’s a new word every moment.