Mr bombastic does it again

Shashi Tharoor bombed Twitter with an archaic word again to promote his latest book The Paradoxical Prime Minister.

Shashi Tharoor has a way with words. Also, a unique ability in these modern times to bring back into the public ken words that have long been buried and perhaps forgotten. In an age in which people may show a clear preference for abbreviated meaning and checks on Google over tome-like, printed English dictionaries, Shashi Tharoor has people wracking their recall ability every time he spells out a rare word in cyberspace.

On Twitter, Tharoor faces an army of users ready for a duel with him on words. In answer to his quixotic and bombastic ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ — a word described by our erudite ancestors as just ‘worthless’ or ‘nonsense’ — Twitter users came up with several tongue-twisters, some of which even explain Tharoor’s predilection or love for words buried in antiquity.

While we were brought up to believe that this 29-letter word is the longest in the English dictionary of old, we saw others come up with words like ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ in Hollywood as a competitor to the word count.

In the battle of rare words, Tharoor may face stiff competition from NRI kids in the US who routinely dominate Spelling Bee contests. These kids are proficient at spelling words under the stress of a televised examination, which would probably make them more advanced than good old Tharoor.

You must, however, give it to the man. He attempts to censure the Prime Minister with class, by using the word ‘flocci’ which, in brief, means — “the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.” As a writer with a flair for the English language, Tharoor has put forth convincing arguments in support of the Hindu religion in his scholarly Why I Am a Hindu wherein he hardly needed to bomb us with bombast. His fans or opponents on social media do try to match him with long, obscure words, mostly invented like Tharoor’s ‘hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’, with one girl using ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’. Touche!

Even so, The Paradoxical Prime Minister, which is Tharoor’s word portrait of Prime Minister Modi, is worth looking forward to. The 400-page book is already available online.

Not often guilty of rodomontade, a word he used to denounce coverage of his wife’s mysterious death. Tharoor saw his political ambitions diminished by the tragedy. Having been in hot water already over his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s sweat equity in an IPL cricket team and having to resign his post in the UPA ministry, it is moot whether Tharoor will ever realise his ultimate political ambition of a ministerial post commensurate with his once high office in the UN.

His wife’s death will remain his proverbial sword of Damocles — one that his opponents will use to dangle over him like in the fable. His greatest future then might lie in between the covers of books. He may have few peers in his party or outside when it comes to his rare felicity with the pen, more so when he does not have to pull out these archaic words.

Maybe he could even have a future with the lexicographers, dredging up more forgotten words so that eyes may once again scan dictionaries, searching for meanings to words beyond the highfalutin world of the public school.

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