"I love the idea of witnessing the birth of that word."
May 27, 2013 9:47 PM   Subscribe

"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."

Dictionaries are pretty weird! How could a dictionary, reasearched, written, printed, contain words that are used today? Why we need to invent new words! Or you could consult The Emotionary, "Words that don't exist for feelings that do." (via)
posted by the man of twists and turns (10 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Hobson-Jobson is online
posted by idiopath at 10:20 PM on May 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

I find it more interesting to note words which are so common in English today, including American English, that many people wouldn't even know they owe their origin to Indian languages: shampoo, jungle, loot, pajamas, pariah, atoll, cushy, khaki, dungarees (not to mention the more obvious guru, pundit, avatar, etc).
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:45 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

While working for ARTFL, I *wrote* a data input spec for this dictionary as part of The Digital Dictionaries of South Asia. (I also ended up writing one for the Platts Urdu dictionary) -- the dictionary was keyed in elsewhere and we made a searchable version of the Hobson-Jobson. from that keyed in data.
posted by oonh at 10:47 PM on May 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

This article has activated sing-songy rhyme-time in my noggin'.

Let the itsby-bitsy hee-haw begin.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:03 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I couldn't find seersucker; do you know if it's in there or what it's under?
posted by 23 at 1:59 AM on May 28, 2013

Is this not a double? No, not at all, good lord! Good to see its finally here!
posted by infini at 2:31 AM on May 28, 2013

Hobson Jobson's current day influence:

Dear Sir,

In accordance with the agreements reached during our telecon of Friday last, we are deeply grateful to be given the opportunity to submit our proposal for your perusal and consideration.


Yrs truly, etc
posted by infini at 2:32 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The list of words from India in the article doesn't list all letters. Here are the missing ones:
E - ek dum
F - firangi
I - Indigo
M - mongoose
O - out-station
Q - Qazi
U - Unani
W - wallah
X - Xeraphim (had to look this one up)
Z - zenana
posted by the cydonian at 4:34 AM on May 28, 2013

Why we need to invent new words

Oh, God, not Snigglets again.
posted by erniepan at 7:43 AM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

This was really interesting! Thanks!

My only complaint is how ridiculous I found some of the words in the invent new words article. They seemed to have briefly mentioned and then forgotten that for a new word to be useful or catch on, the word(s) it replaces in the chosen example must be more cumbersome than the invented word. ;)
posted by MoTLD at 10:45 PM on May 29, 2013

« Older Two Cathedrals   |   "Misplaced Honor" Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments