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Want to be sensitive to all genders and body types? Omit these words from your vocab

If Parliament can place an embargo on certain words, so can we

Pooja Mitra | Published 20.07.22, 06:10 PM

Tiyasa Das

‘Unparliamentary’ just got a new definition with the release of a list of words banned in Parliament.

So, no one can be an “anarchist” or “dictatorial” and none can be “betrayed”. One cannot resort to “drama” or call others “Shakuni” or “incompetent”. Neither can any news be termed “fake” or anything be labelled “COVID spreader”.


But it’s not only parliamentarians who need to watch what they speak, several offensive or biased and words have, over time, crept into people’s day-do-today vocabulary under the garb of “harmless humour”.

My Kolkata draws up a list that need to be banned from our everyday dictionaries.


A word often used to refer to gay men and transgender persons, chhakka loosely means effeminate. Used in everyday parlance to name-tag a “man who is not as manly”. Even as Kolkata proudly celebrates the “wedding” of a homosexual couple, many unfortunately continue to find misplaced humour in such language.


Spot anyone with Oriental features and call him or her “chinky”. This, unfortunately, had been the norm everywhere, even on elite campuses. People from the northeastern states bear the brunt of this most often. The M.K. Bezbaruah panel identified the word as a “racial slur” and recommended punishment for anyone using it.


Effeminate or meyeli is a gender-insensitive slur against men. Softer voice, sharp features, men involved in performing arts like dance and are often called meyeli as if being woman-like is a degradation. It is also a blanket term for gay individuals, men who wear gender-fluid clothes or use make-up.

The antonym for meyeli is purushali or manly, directed towards women with so-called masculine attributes. A related slur with meyeli is makundo, which means a man with less or no facial hair.

Referring to someone based on one’s physical attributes often leads to bullying, body shaming and may lead to mental health issues.

Border paar refugee

Or a Bangal. The Partition of Bengal led to a huge number of people coming to India from across the border, seeking refuge and residence. Pithe kanta taarer daag (the imprints on the back of the wire fences on the geo-political border between India and Bangladesh) to border paar refugee (cross-border refugee), Bangals (people originating from East Bengal, now called Bangladesh after Partition) are subjected to being termed so.

The pseudo fights over chingri and ilish apart, comments against Bangal people can often get venomous.

Der battery

Both eyes not equally functional is a der battery. Funny? Not really. The most probable cause for a person’s eyes not being equally functional would be a medical condition or an accident. Any remark on a physical attribute is offensive.

Half pedal

Half pedal or lyangra is used to describe a person who limps, be it because of a medical condition or an accident. Kids who have graduated from tricycles to bicycles are often given cycles meant for elders, which they manage to half pedal. The term, which has its origin in this action, is definitely insensitive.


Our obsession with skin colour is baffling. The “whites” may have long left our land, but whether it is the popularity of fairness creams or marriage advertisements looking for “fair brides”, the obsession with skin colour is evident everywhere even in this time and age. But every time we refer to someone as kaalo or sada, we are strengthening a flawed stereotype on “the ideal way to look.”


Fat shaming is a phenomenon. Calling someone mota, or fat, violates the personal space of an individual, body rights and may affect emotional and mental health. There cannot be an “ideal” way to look, given that each body type is different, not forgetting medical ailments that affect body weight.

Meyeder moton kandchis

To be able to laugh is masculine, but to be able to weep is feminine. Because weeping is weakness and men can never be weak, isn’t it?

Let’s break the chain and the gender bias. Men can weep, inconsolably, if they need to, and women can too. Being able to express one’s emotions is not a weakness, it is the ability to feel.

Last updated on 20.07.22, 06:10 PM

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