`subaltern’

It means `subordinate’. The word was originally a term used in the army to refer to any commissioned officer below the rank of a captain. In British English, the `a’ and the `e’ are pronounced like the `a’ in `china’, and the main stress is on the first syllable. In American English, the `u’ and the `e’ are like the `a’ in `china’, and the `a’ is like the `au’ in `aught’ and `caught’. The main stress, in this case, is on the second syllable. Nowadays, the term is used to refer to the underprivileged or the disadvantaged.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ (The Hindu) – February 12, 2007

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