Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ango-Indian Words in English

1. Nancy Friedman, who blogs at Fritinancy,  linked to an "open-source" version of a nearly century-old tome called "Hobson-Jobson" at the open library. The book is "a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive."

2. This book is the backdrop for the article "Hobson-Jobson: The Words English owes to India" on BBC News. Here's an interesting excerpt from the article:
Take the entry for the Indian word dam. The dictionary defines it as: "Originally an actual copper coin. Damri is a common enough expression for the infinitesimal in coin, and one has often heard a Briton in India say: 'No, I won't give a dumree!' with but a vague notion what a damri meant." 
That is the etymology of dam. But Yule and Burnell have more to say. 
"And this leads to the suggestion that a like expression, often heard from coarse talkers in England as well as in India, originated in the latter country, and that whatever profanity there may be in the animus, there is none in the etymology, when such an one blurts out 'I don't care a dam!' in other words, 'I don't care a brass farthing!'"

3. If you are unwilling to spend hours reading a 1000+ page book, Wikipedia has a shorter entry of English words derived from Hindi and Urdu. 

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