Tragedy in a choice of words

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am

In the article by Russell Miller describing the Bhopal gas tragedy and the effort on its victims, I take exception to Mr Miller's reference to a young woman shyly sitting in a doorway, who gabbles something in Hindustani, when replying that she had three miscarriages after the incident. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary the word 'gabble' means, 'to talk volubly or inarticulately, fast unintelligible talk'.

In this instance, I think Mr Miller's use of the word 'gabble' is inappropriate and wrong as Mr Miller does NOT KNOW enough about the language to recognise that she spoke inarticulately in Hindustani. I feel that it is a derogatory way of writing, a fault common to English writers and journalists when describing people who speak their native tongue. Just because they do not understand what is being said they should not refer to it as 'gabble'.

I am sure that Mr Miller does NOT KNOW how articulately, or otherwise, the lady described, in Hindustani, the terrible tragedies that befell her.