Kavin Can’t Even Quickie: Food Babe, Did You Know that “Indian” Isn’t a Language?


Kavin is exasperated
Kavin can’t even

This will be an extremely short edition of “Kavin Can’t Even.” I have been taking one for the team and reading Vani Hari’s book, “Food Babe Way,” a New York Times bestseller. For the life of me, I cannot imagine how anyone believes that this book is factually accurate. Even her personal anecdotes are reductionist to the extreme. Case in point:

“Dad and Mom had my brother first and then, seven years later, me. They named me Vani, a name I hated as a child because my  schoolmates made fun of it and no one could pronounce it. But in Indian, it means “voice”—how prophetic, because I’ve definitely developed one.”

-Food Babe Way, page 7

Vani must be aware that there is no language called “Indian.” India is a vast, diverse nation with a rich and varied culture, where over a hundred officially recognized languages are spoken. More accurately, “Vani” can mean “voice” or “expression of thoughts” in Hindi; the word originated from Sanskrit. If she is aware of this fact, does she not believe her audience to be savvy enough to look up the word “Hindi?”

I previously wrote a post called “Kavin Can’t Even:  Food Babe Way Exotifies India, and Grossly Exaggerates or Lies About Her Dad.” I hadn’t noticed this line about the meaning of her name, though it would have fit perfectly in that post.

By the way, my name “Kavin,” is pronounced exactly like the word, “coven.” Growing up, almost nobody pronounced it correctly. It means “beauty” in Tamil, my parents’ native language. Apparently they had high hopes for their daughter to be beautiful, or to bring beauty to the world? I love my name, though I didn’t appreciate it until adulthood.

If you share this post, please remember to use hashtag #KavinCantEven. Until next time!

My parents moved from Tamil Nadu, in the southeastern tip of India, a few years before I was born. Image credit
My parents moved from Tamil Nadu, in the southeastern tip of India, a few years before I was born. Image credit

Featured image © 2015 Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy is a mom of two, co-Executive Director of March Against Myths, public speaker, Forbes contributor and author in Madison, WI. She is also co-author of "The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari's Glass House". Follow her on Facebook and twitter @ksenapathy

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  1. Maybe she gets paid by the character? That’s like, a few extra mills for saying ‘Indian’ instead of ‘Hindi’.

    You’d be surprised how many times you hear ‘Native Americans’ and my mind is going [citation needed][clarification needed].

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