Bertie Wooster is a Desi

Culture and Media

Dick and Garlick (good to see him back in full form) has a post on the origins of Wodehousian,” the especially silly, inventive language that the, usually upper-class characters, in P.G. Wodehouse stories speak.

Baboo Jabberjee, BA, was a character created by the English humorist F. Anstey for Punch, an Indian law-student in England who has learnt his English from books and speaks in absurdly inflated phrases…. I’ve read both the Jabberjee books: they’re politically incorrect, of course, but also quite funny, with devastating parodies of Babu English. Apparently, they had a great influence on P. G. Wodehouse’s style…

For the curious, here is the Wikipedia entry on Wodehouse, and you can download several of his books and stories at the Gutenberg project.

An upper-class male speaking in a nonsensical fashion isn’t limited to Wodehouse’s eccentric characters. Kerim pointed me to a post on Language Log about disfluency among upwardly mobile Wolof aristocracy in Senegal. And closer to home, members of the US senate. Members of the nobility cultivate inarticulateness as a sign of their status, which also includes the hiring of a lower class person to speak for them–their griot or press secretaries so to speak.