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Sun Dec 04 22:27:01 SAST 2016

At last, something we can thank the Guptas for

The Times Editorial | 2016-11-07 07:51:26.0
"Gupta" has entered the South African lexicon with a flourish and the name is destined to remain an expression of lurking evil and peril for many a long year. File photo
Image by: MARTIN RHODES

We don't have much to thank the Gupta family for. Well, some of us clearly do, but not the vast majority of the population of this great land. In fact, we wish they'd just pack their bags and Gupta off.

And therein lies the one small way this cunning clan will enrich us: they have given us a word to conjure with as we express anger and frustration at the devious, self-enriching machinations of the rich and powerful.

"Gupta" has entered the South African lexicon with a flourish and the name is destined to remain an expression of lurking evil and peril for many a long year.

Of course, Julius Malema and his special poetic gift took our latest expletive to a whole new level with his parliamentary chanting of "Zupta must go!"

Yesterday, minister of higher education and SA Communist Party bigwig Blade Mzimande gave Gupta grammar another quick twist when he turned the word into a verb.

"We need to fight both monopoly capital and the Guptarisation of our state with ferocity and vigour," Nzimande roared at the SACP's Red October rally in Sebokeng (in November, but that's not the point).

This neologistic contortion is known as "verbing" and is generally frowned upon by English language purists. As a witty one has remarked: "Verbing weirds language".

But many a noun has been transformed into a verb - from host, to highlight, to salt and pepper. We still frown on verbing the word impact, but if someone says, "Can I beer you?", we bite our lip and nod.

The point is, the country that gave the world the linguistic delight of "tenderpreneur" has another brilliant offering. (Mzansi is also where bakgat, bliksem, haibo and heita; toyi-toyi, ubuntu, kiff, zef, tsotsi, windgat and sharp-sharp came from).

It's unusual to see a surname get verbed. We know all about brand names such as Google and Taser, but not many family names crack it. Maybe we'll one day be saying: "Zuma you!"

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