Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fancy tag

One expression that has come into widespread use over the last decade or a little more is ‘life partner’. The Oxford online dictionary, I found, defines it as ‘a person with whom one is in a long-term monogamous relationship’.

Funny, isn’t it, that the older term spouse has been quite forgotten? Also, as far as India is concerned, I cannot get rid of the suspicion that the term is a direct translation of the expression jeevan saathi, for the popularization of which all credit must go to cable TV and the matchmaking industry.

Funnier still is the fact that the term has caught on precisely in an age when no one can be sure any more whether a marriage will last out a single full year. Old-fashioned as I am, I should have thought no one who has not celebrated his or her silver jubilee, at least, with the same spouse can earn the right to call that spouse a ‘life-’ partner!

1 comment:

Shilpi said...

Ha. That is a direct translation of jeevan saathi. I'd never thought about that.

'Life partner' isn't very common here; wonder why. The ambiguous 'partner' is though. It can mean just about anybody but normally I guess it means another human being with whom one is in a romantic relationship or is in a relationship of holy matrimony or civil union. The very first time I heard the term 'partner' in a conversation, I was puzzled while that bit about 'Partners in crime' and...Christie's books vaguely swum around in my head until the term was explained.

Spouse is still used a fair people and especially in the context of 'spousal hires' and in insurance and tax forms I've noticed. Nobody talks about 'my life-time partner' or about 'partner-hires' or 'partner earnings'.

But it's probably not strange though. Maybe it's because marriages may not last for longer than a year that the term's become so popular!