Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
Misconnecting with English


There are a number of locations wherein English words are used as seeming translations for local usages.

See these:

1. Of the hero of the original Tachcholi pat—the Robin Hood of North Malabar— many traditions are extant.

[My note: Actually the Tachcholi pat or possibly the Vadakkan pattukal cannot be compared with the native-English stories of Robin Hood. There is a qualitative difference. In fact, no individual or entity in a feudal language social system can be compared with anything in a planar language social system. Both are in totally different frameworks which have no corresponding elements between them.]

2. This designation may be exactly reproduced by the phrase from the *English wedding service in which the mutual contract of the parties is “for better for worse, for richer for poorer.”

[My note: This is another instance of trying to find commonality between two items which cannot be equated to each other.]

3. probably Commissioner of the Perumal

[My note: The use of the word Commissioner to define a subordinate of a semi-barbarian ruler has its problems. The word ‘semi-barbarian’ is taken from Travancore State Manual, in which V Nagam Aiya has very categorically mentioned the peoples and cultures of the subcontinent pervious to the advent of the English rule as ‘semi-barbarian’.]

4. his officers and ministers

[My note: The use of the word ‘officer’ to define any official in the ancient and medieval kingdoms in the subcontinent as an ‘officer’ is just a display of the stark ignorance of what the word ‘officer’ stands for. In English, an officer is a gentleman. An official in the subcontinent and in the three current-day nations formed in the subcontinent, viz. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, who uses words like Thoo/Nee, USS / Avan / Aval, Eda / Edi etc. to a citizen of the nation cannot be mentioned as an officer and a gentleman. Mentioning them as officer is a stark misuse of the word. From this perspective, the above-mentioned nations do not have any officers at all in their service, other than for the exceptions to prove the rule.]

5. Ordered with the sanction of the Palace-major Vyaraka Devar,

6. either the hereditary military commandant of the Desam

7. Pandarappad, treasury officials

8. he was, in short, chairman.

9. Hydros Kutti who was, it is said, the Commissioner appointed by Hyder Ali

[My note: 5 to 9 are other examples of this misuse of English words.]

10. I have heard well authenticated cases of Englishmen, who have shot three and four cow bison of a day and have left them to rot where they fell.

This is a very curious location. For, the point is that the Englishmen are seen as having acted quite un-English. However, there is a wider explanation to all this, that is rarely noted down.

Imagine a person from the subcontinent going to England and doing the same. Will it be allowed in England? It is most preposterous idea that such an attempt would be allowed or condoned. Off course, there are items over there that can be mentioned to say that in that nation also such things occur. I will not go into those items here. For, it will only confuse the issues.

The point is that when a native-Englishman comes to the subcontinent, it is the others here who tell them what to do, what is allowed and how they should act. In almost all these cases, the natives of the subcontinent give advices which are in sync with their own mentality.

For instance, there are many photos on display nowadays showing white-skinned persons in circumstances which look quite at odds with an English attitude. That of them, standing along with a tiger they had shot. Or them going in a hand-pulled cycle-rickshaw pulled by a very dried-up person. That of well-dressed English men and women in the midst of very poor looking natives of the subcontinent. There are photos of the poor natives of the subcontinent bowing before Englishmen who are sitting on a very comfortable leaning chair, with the legs stretched out.

If a person looks at these pictures and start creating a huge understanding of how the Englishmen and women behaved in the subcontinent based on these images, he or she will be making a grievous mistake.

These are pictures that actually picture the actual state of the land, into which the Englishmen and women are mere momentary insertions. I will explain this statement.

One of my parents was an officer of the Madras State Civil Service which had been an immediate continuation of the Madras Presidency Civil Service. All the officers of this service then in the 1950s were quite good in English. My parent worked in the Malabar district. The very noticeable difference that these officers had from the later-day Kerala government ‘officers’, was that they generally communicated to each other in English. As to referring to or talking about a common man, who had come to the office or to the officer’s house with any help request was that, the words in English ‘he / him/ she/ her etc. were used. If the Malabari or Malayalam word had to be used, the word of reference would usually be ‘Ayaal’.

Yet, in the case of a lower stature common man, like a labourer, agricultural labourer, financially low agriculturalist etc., even though they are addressed with a decent word like ‘Ningal’, they invariably bent and bow and show all kinds of obeisance and servitude. Even though at times, they are told not to exhibit these kinds of servile behaviours, it is not possible to do a personality enhancement training upon each person. So, in general, the officers do not take much efforts to tell them to stand straight.

For the social training in subservience is part of the feudal language training that is automatically there in the social system.

Now, look at this picture.

It is quite easy to think that it is the English officials who are oppressing them. Actually the truth would be that these people approach the English officials with the full understanding that they would get help without any strings attached only from them. When they display any kind of worshipful-ness, it is actually their expression of pleading for help, in a terrible social system in which each individual is out to suppress another. That is how feudal languages are designed.

In many contrived history books, one might see refined-looking English colonial residences. And along with them, are shown terribly shoddy residences of the poverty-stricken natives of the subcontinent. These kind of picture combinations are deliberate attempts at misguiding.