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India’s gift to the English language : Hindi origin words

We are in a habit of commonly using Hinglish, referring to the combination of Hindi and English, to make our conversations easier. In fact, we are so influenced by the English language that the average Indian is more fluent in English and gasps for air when asked to translate certain words into Hindi from English.

We might feel lost when asked regarding what the Hindi translation of certain words is. Bread, Chocolate, Phone, Shirt, Bottle, Texts, Cycle and Ship are some of the words which will stress our minds if we try to find their Hindi alternative.

Although India has incorporated many English words into its daily conversations, it has not adopted the words into the Hindi Language itself. However, there are certain words that are seemingly English, but are originally from India. This means that the English language has adopted words from the Hindi language and used it so often that we cannot argue anymore whether the word is Indian or English.

A few years ago, as a kid, I would have never thought that the English dictionary might have borrowed words from the Hindi Language. It turns out that it has, and it turns out that it has borrowed quite a few. The following is a list of ten words that are India’s gift to the English language.

Jungle

The English word of Jungle came to be from Hindi’s ‘Jangal’, which meant wild wastelands overcrowded with wooded scrub landscapes and tangled forest trees. It was first used in English by English settlers of India to refer to large areas of uncultivated land with trees and woods covering the entire plot.

Bungalow

The word Bungalow was derived from the 17th century Bengali word called ‘Bangla’, which meant one story houses used by the British for settlement in India. It was also the word used in Hindi for Bengali style houses, hence the mane Bangla.

Loot

The English word ‘Loot’ meaning to ransack somebody or the things that are obtained by such thievery was derived from the Hindi word ‘lut’. This word originated from north India and stayed within its boundaries until the 18th century. It meant the same as stealing or plundering from someone.

Verandah

The word verandah was adopted by the British when they first came to know about the existence of Verandahs. Verandas, as called in Hindi, were open spaces attached to the outward edges of a house for enjoying cool breeze on hot summer days. Since England didn’t need cool breezes due to its cold weather, the English people and the English language didn’t know of verandahs until their interaction with India.

Bandana

The fashion accessory ‘Bandana’ was derived from the Hindi word of ‘Bandhana’, which means to tie something up and the word ‘Bandhnu’, which is the process of tying and dyeing large handkerchiefs with vibrant designs. These two words came together to create the famous fashion statement called bandana where people tie vibrant handkerchiefs around their heads.

Thug

The word ‘Thug’ was derived from the Hindi word ‘thag’, meaning people who were crafty with their thievery skills. Thugs in ancient India were people who would travel across India and befriend local travellers before looting and killing them. In the modern English meaning, a thug is someone who deceives another or swindles people of any valuable item, money or otherwise.

Shampoo

Shampoo is a word derived and evolved from the Hindi word ‘champo’, which means to massage, squeeze or knead.  A Bengali trader introduced the term in Britain, when he and his wife opened a shampooing bath in Brighton in 1814.

Punch

A punch, more commonly a fruit punch, is a word derived from the Indian word of ‘Paanch’. Paanch in Hindi means five, and in this case refers to the number of ingredients that are used in the making of a punch: Soda, sugar, water, lemon and tea/spices. The drink was introduced to England by sailors and employees of the East India Company in the 19th century.

Cushy

The term ‘cushy’ meaning relaxed, comfortable and easy, was borrowed from the Hindi term of ‘khushi’. Khushi in Hindi refers to the expression of happiness. The term is assumed to have been introduced to English through the British army during the WWI.

Pyjama

The word ‘Pyjama’ which refers to comfortable night wear in the English dictionary was derived from the Hindi word ‘Payjama’. While ‘pay’ means leg, ‘jama’ means loose fitting clothing, bringing the word ‘pyjama’ meaning loose pair of trousers into existence.

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