“Latest Tharoor controversy is storm in v-cup” (March 2) was an excellent article and I am sure it will open many eyes. The storm was created not by the Minister of State for External Affairs but by the media, especially television channels. I am amazed that major channels did not check the meaning of the word “interlocutor.”
The article was timely and put the use of the word “interlocutor” in the right perspective.
Shashi Tharoor should exercise caution as most politicians do not have enough knowledge of English. It was perhaps the reaction of the media across the border that caused the unnecessary confusion.
Granted, there is a difference between the words “interlocutor” and “mediator.” But what matters is substance, not form. In its proposed capacity as “a person taking part in a conversation,” Saudi Arabia is expected not to be a minutes-keeper. It will definitely exert some influence in the process.
Thus the spirit of the word “interlocutor” in this context is “mediator.” English purists ought to put the context in perspective before sneering upon the supposedly lesser language experts.
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, describes interlocutor as: (a) one who takes part in a conversation (b) the performer in the middle of a minstrel line who engages the others in talk (c) interloqui (Latin) meaning “to speak between.”
Thus a mediator could just lurk one step behind the interlocutor. An assertive interlocutor could promote himself as a mediator if an opportunity presents itself. If Mr. Tharoor had meant Saudi Arabia was a dialogue partner of India on the subject of Pakistan, the question arises: are Saudi Arabia and India on the same wavelength on Pakistan?