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Updated: October 6, 2013 20:48 IST

Have a laugh at 'n' with English

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P.V. Subramaniam
The Hindu
P.V. Subramaniam

The Udder Side is a novel take on the English language. Written by P.V. Subramaniam, the book would have you rolling with laughter

Piggy Bank: your retirement corpus after years of bringing home the bacon. Polygamy: a chap who’s had one too many. Bliss: State of husband who’s ignorant of his wife’s latest shopping binge. P.V. Subramaniam’s dictionary, The Udder Side turns the English language on its head, in a most humorous way.

The Udder Side is different from pun books, joke books and gag humour.

Mixed bag

“It is a mixed bag that has highbrow, lowbrow, every kind of humour. I have taken pot shots at men, women, lawyers, the music industry, TV, media, work place jokes, government and politics and even medical terms,” says Subramaniam, a dentist settled in Mumbai.

Subramaniam says he loves the English language. “I used to read the dictionary a lot. It was the google of our times, the times which was devoid of newfangled communication.”

The writer explains the work he put in for The Udder Side. “It took me about eight to 10 years. It started as a sporadic exercise, as an outlet of my creativity with words. I used to open the dictionary, list out a few words and re-define every word. My wife was my sounding board and editor.”

The 50-odd illustrations by Mark Wood add to the book. “The illustrations break the tedium of the written word, making it a much lighter book to read.”

Grammar groan

Most say English grammar has little logic to it, does he agree? “Grammar rules in English are a joke in itself. The rules will be about four pages and the deviations will be 400 pages! Most English words almost have an alternate meaning; one word can have so many base meanings.”

Explaining the title The Udder Side, the writer says: “The entire tone of the dictionary is set on ‘the other’. The word “udder” is a corruption of “other”. It sounds twisted and makes the staid, serious book as the dictionary, humorous. The Udder Side is a humorous makeover of a dictionary.”

The Udder Side is unique in every sense, different even from Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary. “Bierce’s dictionary is cynical and bitter, not something you can giggle and laugh with.”

Always “the joker in the pack” in his family, Subramaniam says “My father was extremely witty. He was visually challenged, but he could find humour in everything in life.”

Besides writing—he has written articles for travel and in-flight magazines— Subramaniam has an interest in wildlife photography. “I have farm where we do organic farming in the outskirts of Mumbai.” Talking about wildlife and nature, here’s another definition of a word by PV, Zoo: Where enclosures protect animals from wild humans.

The Udder Side is a fingerprint publication, priced at Rs. 250 and is available on flipkart, infibeam,,, and in bookstores.

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