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English explodes in India
July 1, 2014 12:46 PM   Subscribe

English words are becoming more popular in various Indian languages (Hindi is the language that's predominantly discussed in the article). Vise versa: words that English owes to India (again, predominately discussing Hindi).
posted by Shouraku (20 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a dumree"
posted by bitteroldman at 12:51 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I want to a start a new meme, TheBBCIsOnIt.

Growing up in India we did this all the time, and I lived with people from all Indian states, and everyone that spoke ANY regional language snuck in English words into their lingo.

India has a colonial history, and so the fact that this kind of thing is commonplace shouldn't be too much of a surprise OR news.

This article reeks of buzzfeed style "look at how funny their English is" other-ing, just put in more flowery language and under the BBC umbrella.

I'll pass. No thanks.
posted by mysticreferee at 12:54 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


Pro-tip: Indians laugh at English-speaking people when they hear "chai tea".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:06 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


YES!! YES WE DO!!!

also: Oprah Chai Tea. *eyeroll*
posted by raihan_ at 1:31 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


(Also realized that I could go VERY long on chai as a beverage and what it means to Indian culture and how risible it is that Western culture has taken a vibrant beverage and blunted it through the sheer force of vanilla simple syrup.)
posted by raihan_ at 1:33 PM on July 1 [6 favorites]


I'm not getting the "lol exotics" vibe from the article that mysticreferee mentions, but I agree that this phenomenon isn't new in any way. Indians have been mixing English into our vernacular since forever, and I imagine the same thing happens in the other former colonies too. But I still quite enjoyed reading the article. Maybe that's just my nostalgia talking? Having been out of the country for years, I miss doing timepass, preponing meetings, stuffing suitcases into the car's dikki...
posted by narain at 1:37 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


As a Jew, it took me a while to figure out that "chai," in the tea sense, wasn't pronounced with a vigorous guttural.
posted by ostro at 1:39 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Speaking of English words of Indian origin, I had a friend who was extremely upset that the movie Avatar didn't use the correct Sanskrit pronunciation of the word.
posted by narain at 1:44 PM on July 1


We didn't even drink chai in India till the British got there.
posted by dhruva at 1:58 PM on July 1


We didn't even drink chai in India till the British got there.

True. They also showed us how to use our mouths to eat food.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:35 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


They also showed us how to use our mouths to eat food.

Isn't tea originally Chinese and introduced to India by the British?
posted by howfar at 3:00 PM on July 1


Tea drinking in India was largely a result of a sustained campaign by British owned tea consortiums seeking a market for their tea. See the last section in this paper (doc file). There are published references as well, but I read them over ten years ago and so can't remember where to find them.
posted by tavegyl at 3:20 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


A cheetah? In India?

Huh.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:29 PM on July 1


Isn't tea originally Chinese and introduced to India by the British?

Yep.
posted by dhruva at 3:34 PM on July 1


The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership is another cause. "Miss call" has become a popular verb, as in "I will miss call my friend". This is done by phoning someone and ringing off quickly before he or she has time to answer. It lets the person know that you are thinking of them.

In my student days in Sydney, we used to call this 'pranking' as in 'prank call'. For example, "I'll pick you up at around 8 - I'll prank you when I'm outside". A text message or a call would cost, but pranking was free.

Languages mutate and evolve - the street finds its own uses for things. Especially in countries with multiple native languages.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:41 PM on July 1


Woah, a lot to read here. I'm super interested in the dictionary mentioned in the Indian-to-English link.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:54 PM on July 1


Woah, a lot to read here. I'm super interested in the dictionary mentioned in the Indian-to-English link.

Oh oops, I forgot to mention the dictionary in my post:
In 1872 two men began work on a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year. What accounts for its enduring appeal? Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary's short and mysterious title. The subtitle reveals more: "A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. By Colonel Henry Yule and AC Burnell."
You can access a digital version of the Hobson-Jobson at the University of Chicago's Digital Dictionaries of South Asia, where many other Indian language dictionaries are also available.

Here is a link to the online Hobson-Jobson, and here is the google book version.
posted by Shouraku at 5:32 PM on July 1 [1 favorite]


So "Yo" is misscall appified?
posted by pjm at 5:39 PM on July 1


In my student days in Sydney, we used to call this 'pranking' as in 'prank call'. For example, "I'll pick you up at around 8 - I'll prank you when I'm outside". A text message or a call would cost, but pranking was free.


This is literally the same context in which misscalling takes place among my Indian social circle.
posted by all the versus at 10:00 PM on July 1


These English, sitting on the verandahs of their bungalows looking at the jungle and using shampoo.
posted by asok at 1:43 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


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