Grammatically yours: 'Gullu' may make it to Oxford Dictionary

Updated Sep 26 2014


The term's popular usage, widespread appeal and easily understood connotations strengthen its case for inclusion.
The term's popular usage, widespread appeal and easily understood connotations strengthen its case for inclusion.

A political gathering is pelted with bricks; the house or vehicle of someone with a political background is vandalised; a state institution like PTV is broken into; who is responsible for this politically motivated violence in Pakistan?

Of course, it's Gullu Butt(s).

The chubby, handlebar-moustached man who made his first public appearance on June 17 in Model Town, Lahore, and smashed half a dozen vehicles parked around the Minhajul Quran Secretariat; refuses to go away from public discourse, political speeches and even news 'analyses'.

Already with more than 10,000 downloads of a game named ‘Gullu’, the word 'gullu' is now likely to make its way to the Oxford Dictionary as a term standing for the disruptive behaviour of someone enjoying (whether explicit or implicit) backing of the ruling/powerful segments of society.

Explore: Gullu Butt: An Auto-smashing-biography

Syed Shamim Azam, a linguist from Lahore, has been watching the Gullu phenomenon since it hit the TV screens on June 17.

He wrote to Oxford Dictionaries for including the word ‘gullu’ in its upcoming edition for Pakistan and India, considering that events have certainly established the semantic value of the word.

The publishers say that if “the term achieves enormous currency with a wide audience in a much shorter space of time, and people expect to find the new 'high-profile' word in their dictionaries, it sure is included in the dictionary”.

Azam sees a strong case for bringing in ‘gullu’ as a common noun in dictionaries, for its popular usage and widespread appeal and understanding of a certain phenomenon in the Pakistani society. He says,

Whenever someone or something is threatened or harmed by the cronies of powerful figures, the violent actors are referred to ‘gullus’, and without any further explaining, the usage of the word is properly encoded and decoded by the public.

Azam opines that people with ‘gullu’ characteristics have been around us for a long time, but for the first time, we now have a symbolic manifestation with linguistic value to denote all such characters.

“The connotations of the word 'gullu' are quite rich, as it encompasses all the emotional associations you think of when you see or hear the word; its connotations include more than violent behavior,” he says.

Read on: The reign of Gullu Butts

In linguistics, the denotation of a word plays an important part in the formation of its connotation. The word ‘gullu’ was neither coined nor invented but came into being through a condemnable event, and now its denotative sense needs to be further refined and properly established for its correct usage. That word, then, in a well-established dictionary will serve the purpose all over the world.

As the derivational and inflectional morphemes of ‘gullu’ needed to be defined for a fluent verbalisation, Azam extended the word by using prefixes and suffixes to make it more expressive and meaningful.

‘Gullu’ is used to show a certain violent behaviour, so its word category is to be changed from Proper Noun to Common Noun, and it should not be written with a capital letter.

The word class is changed by using morphemes like gulluish (adjective); gulluishly (adverb); gullunise (verb); gulluism (abstract noun); the plural form is gullues; the past simple tense of gullu, rather than being gullued, is gulloished; the comparative form of gulluish is more gulluish (not gulloisher, as it contains two syllables).

Also see: Gullu Butt overshadows budget session

The entries of phrasal verbs are more important to extend its sense. Azam suggests the following phrasal verbs: gullu down (to talk violently to choke somebody down); gullu around (to create riot and brutality); gullu up (to demonstrate gulluish behavior), and gullu in (to intrude in one’s personal affairs with aggressive tone and traits).

“These phrasal verbs can be used expressively as the semantics value of the root word ‘gullu’ is so rich that one can easily determine the meaning of all these entries,” he says.

While tracking down the etymology of ‘gullu’, lexicographers will see the word emerge from the acts of Gullu Butt of Lahore.

Azam suggests that the word ‘Butt’ not be collocated with ‘gullu’ as the Butt clan has nothing to do with the violent behaviour which was displayed — it could've been anyone for that matter, from an individual Sheikh to Jutt to Gujjar and so on.

All the same, Shamim Azam warns the Butts that if more Butts after Gullu, Pomi and Billu continued to gullinise people and places with their shenanigans, we'll be forced to action.

“If Butts keep on acting gulluishly, the society will counter them with an explicit linguistic value,” jokes Azam.