Urdu slang you need to immediately stop using

These words have offensive and derogatory origins and need to be erased from your vocabulary


KARACHI. We’ve all mastered the art of speaking Urdu slang and often times these words are part of our daily vocabulary . Some of them, however, are derogatory and extremely offensive. Here is the list of widely used words that need to be retired:

1. Kalla/Kallu

Translation: Black

Use: To describe a person with dark complexion

People in South Asia often use this word to call a person who has a dark complexion. The word is often used either as a ‘joke’ or in a demeaning manner. Ridiculing someone for his/her complexion is outrageous and racist. A famous Urdu writer penned a drama titled Kallu starring Maria Wasti. Anyone who has seen that drama, will cease using this word.

2. Dhakan

Translation: Lid

Use: To describe a slow or withdrawn person

This word is used to describe to a person who is slow in their responses, not the most articulate or perhaps a little spaced out. Dhakan is essentially used by bullies. Not everyone is able to give appropriate responses all the time. The bullying needs to stop.

3. Dheela

Translation: loose

Use: A lanky or thin person who acts foolishly

This term is used to make fun of a person of weak built and how they ‘lag behind’ others in daily life affairs. An example of this is: “Ussey nahi ho paega, bhaut dheela insaan hay (He won’t be able to do that. He is very dheela)”. There’s no strength in making light of other people’s weaknesses and physical attributes. Quit it.

4. Khatmal

Translation: Bed bug

Use: Used as a derogatory term for Shia Muslims

Khatmal is often used to describe Shias. It is in reference to their practices of self-flagellation, known as maatam, during which some beat themselves with swords and knives to draw blood. This practice is embedded in the mourning culture of Shiaism. Bed bugs when hit release a lot of blood; hence, the connotation.

5. Bhangi/ Chuhra

Definition: A member of the lowest Hindu caste considered as “untouchables”

Use: Used to describe sweepers and as a derogatory term for members of the Christian community in Pakistan.

A large number of lower-caste Hindus converted to Christianity when missionaries began their campaign to spread the religion in South Asia. To escape the unforgiving caste system, many Hindus embraced Christianity. Many of them were employed as sweepers and cleaning staff. Calling them bhangi or chuhra is an extremely offensive and derogatory word and whoever uses it against minorities is cancelled.

6. Chamaar

Definition: Also a member of a low Indian caste whose caste occupation is leather-working

Use: Used as derogatory word for people who belong to lower classes

We need to understand that every culture, tradition or lifestyle is significant and respectable. Similarly, no community is inferior or superior from others. Calling people who don’t abide by widely accepted norms chamaar is arrogant, elitist and a result of our post-colonial hangover.

7. Mirasi

Translation: Derived from the Arabic word miras, meaning heritage

Definition: A derogatory term used to describe a family of traditional singers and dancers

Mirasi and Kanjars in Punjab are famous for their legacy in serving music industry in Pakistan. Kanjar is a caste which is involved in dancing on the tunes of music played by mirasis, musicians. They should be considered custodians of art and culture. Unfortunately, mirasi has a become more of an insult used to describe a ‘characterless’ person.

8. Khadra

Definition: Eunuch or transgender

Use: A derogatory term for Hijra, transgender community or a man who possesses feminine qualities.

However, a few cisgendered people would not mind calling themselves Khadras. It is a complicated topic as not every transgender person likes being called Hijra, which means someone who has performed ‘hijrat’ or migration from a normal life, even. Nonetheless, calling a person who is not transgender but feminine khadra is derogatory and offensive, and a result of toxic masculinity.

9. Akhrot

Translation: Walnut

Use: Used as a derogatory term for Pashtuns.

This word is used to describe Pashtuns as brainless people who don’t have any intelligence. Get your facts right. The Pashtun community has produced some very fine professionals and intellectuals throughout history, Bacha Khan being one of them. The word is not only politically and factually incorrect, it is a stereotype against a community, which we need to crush.

10. Sindhi Manho

Translation: Sindhi people

Use: This term is used widely in Urban Sindh and Punjab to ridicule Sindhis. They are called so because they have their own set of traditions like wearing a Sindhi topi and ajrak and speaking with an accent. Sindh has a very rich culture filled with poetry and folk tales. Just because Sindhis have a different lifestyle, language and dialect doesn’t mean that anyone has a right to humiliate them.

11. Paindu

Translation: Belonging to a pind (village)

Use: This term is used as derogatory term for villagers from rural Punjab, who are in some ways not as progressive as urban dwellers. Paindu is perhaps the most common insult used by Pakistanis for anyone they consider inferior to them. It is hella classist and needs to be erased from our vocab.

 

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