Sunday, March 22, 2009

Word of the week 23 - 29 March 2009 SLUMDOG

The term slumdog was invented for the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, which shows how a poor boy from the Mumbai slums comes to win a TV quiz show. The title of the film has caused some controversy, especially in India, where some people have been offended by the suggestion that people from the slums are no better than dogs. However, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy has explained that the term was intended not as an insult but as a metaphor. He noticed how the dogs and cats of the Mumbai slums just sat there watching everything: ‘I thought it was a fantastic metaphor—of somebody who’s apparently not worth anything, is actually looking, eyeing everything and knowing everything—just like the boy in the game show knows everything.’ Slumdog also suggests the more positive associations of underdog: a person, team or country that is thought to be in a weaker position than others and is not expected to win or be successful.

The title of the film Slumdog Millionaire is an ironic juxtaposition of two extremes, the poor on the one hand (‘the slumdog’) and the rich on the other (‘the millionaire’). It has therefore caused an unlikely collocational patterning for slumdog.

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