Tharoor’s ‘kerfuffle’ sends twitterati scrounging for the dictionary 

Sashi Tharoor, Tharoorean English, vocabulary
Tharoor’s unusual usage of words has invited memes, quips and even criticism on social media. Photo: PTI

If the British have the Queen’s English, Indians have ‘Tharoorian’ English. So, whenever the St. Stevens-educated MP from Thiruvananthapuram throws an unfamiliar word at us, we catch it, look it up and internalise it.

On Tuesday (September 10), those on social media scrounged for their dictionaries when Sashi Tharoor tweeted yet another word – ‘kerfuffle’, meaning commotion or an unnecessary excitement or activity according to Oxford dictionary – as he shared photos of his recent vacation in the Maldives.

“A couple of weeks ago, before all the political kerfuffle in the media, I managed a brief three-day escape to @SonevaFushi in the Maldives. Feels like aeons ago now but I’ve never been on a more perfect getaway. #DiscoverSoneva,” Tharoor tweeted.

As always, Tharoor’s tweet invited memes, quips and even criticism on social media.

While many shared the meaning of the word, others criticised him for using difficult words that the common man doesn’t understand. Another set of users asked him to at least try giving the meaning of the words if he is anyway using them.

“Is ‘Kerfulle’ a Maldivian word Sir ?” said a cheeky Twitter user.

Earlier tryst with words

The word was a latest addition to Tharoor usage of obscure and rarely-used words such as farrago, webaqoof, alochezia, snollygoster, calumny and rodomontade. The Congress leader’s and former official of United Nations caught the fancy of social media with his “exasperating farrago of distortions” comment, following a TV debate.

“Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations&outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalist,” Tharoor had tweeted in 2017 alluding to an interview with Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami in the Sunanda Pushkar case against allegations levelled at him by the channel.

Tharoor’s usage of alien words have often made him the butt of jokes and social media memes. Many have also gone a step ahead and tried to differentiate ‘normal man’s English’ from what they call ‘Tharoorean’ English. Scoopwhoop for instance, in a funny article translated simple English phrases into how Sashi Tharoor would say it. So, a phrase like ‘get out’ becomes “excuse us from the trammel of your companionship” while ‘I don’t care’ translates to “I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find your existence”.

Journalist Akash Banerjee, in a popular video, which has gone viral ever since, did a similar translation. According to him, if Tharoor had to say ‘those who live in glass houses should not throw stones’, he would say “individuals who make their abodes in vitreous edifices would be advised to refrain from catapulting perilous projectiles” and ‘beggars are not choosers’ as “sorting on the part of mendicants must be interdicted”.

Tharoor, however has taken the taunts and memes in his stride, and continues to enlighten us.