ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Second to None

For the intrepid bibliophile, second-hand bookshops, especially those found on city pavements, are an endless source of pleasure and serendipity.


Of late, one increasingly notices advertisements using the expression “pre-owned” in place of the more familiar term, “second-hand.” Second-hand—yet still quite expensive—electronic goods hawked on the internet are invariably described as “pre-owned,” never “second-hand.” The expression has also entered the vocabulary of newspaper reporting. The unfortunate man who was dragged out of the prison in Dimapur, Nagaland, and lynched by a mob, according to a report in The Telegraph of Kolkata, was engaged in the business of trading in “pre-owned cars.”

Clearly, “second-hand,” with its grimy associations, simply does not fit into the squeaky clean and antiseptic hi-tech culture of the internet generation.  Perhaps it does not also sit well with contemporary newspaper reporting, indeed of the all-pervasive menace represen-ted by a “New India.” The very expression “second-hand,” and a whole cultural universe associated with that formulation, is perhaps on the way out.

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