Monday March 19, 2018
Home India The Indian in...

The Indian influence on English Language


New Delhi: The cultural invasion on India and other countries in the subcontinent might never cease and we will keep on trying to speak in proper English language and keep ignoring our respective mother tongues. But it is a fact that even before the British set their foot in India, their language had influences from our culture.  The perpetual influence of India’s culture on the English language indicates the importance of our cultural heritage and the role it played in enriching the foreign language.

It is a common phenomenon that we use words without paying heed to its origin. Words like nirvana, shampoo, cashmere, ginger, bungalow are very commonly used in the English language but very rarely one realizes that these words originated from Indian culture.

Undeniably, before the East India Company landed in the subcontinent, India was a power-house in various field including trade and commerce. As the then trade expanded in European nations, Indian words made their way into the vocabulary of the English Language.

It was only in 1615 that East India Company acquired a territory in the Indian subcontinent. But Indo-Greek trade and business ties between India and Portugal had already facilitated the usage of Indian words in foreign languages.

Words mainly from Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Tamil made their way into the English Language.

Ginger, pepper and indigo first entered Greek and Latin vocabulary and then crept into English.

The root of the word ‘ginger’ can be traced from Malayalam. It was the Greek who imported ‘ginger’ and later it travelled across the world. In the 15th century, people in the Caribbean and Africa began growing ‘ginger’ giving it a global recognition. It is even tough to think now that ‘ginger’ is an Indian word.

Mango’ which is commonly known as ‘aam’ also has its origin in India. Malayalam and Tamil languages had the word ‘mangai’ which entered into the Portuguese culture as ‘manga’. Later, the British added the word in their language and called it ‘mango’.

The word ‘cashmere’ also has its root in India. The word evolved from the wools produced from the sheep and goats of the Kashmir region.

The smartphone generation would be surprised to know that the word ‘shampoo’ has its origin in India.  The original word was ‘champo’ which originally meant a body massage given after pouring warm water over the body.

A small boat is called ‘dingy’ and it too has its origin in India.  ‘Dingy’ is a small boat mainly used by Indian fishermen.

‘Juggernaut’ has evolved from the word ‘Jagannath’ which means the chariot of the Indian God and its procession.

There are a plethora of words in the English language which clearly testifies the richness of the Indian culture. It was the British who gauged the opportunity to use Indian words to spread their influence in the Indian subcontinent. Incorporating Indian words in the English vocabulary facilitated the British to communicate better with the local people.

However, a lot has changed now. Earlier, the influence was from East to West but now it has changed its direction completely.  It is the West that is dictating the terms now.

The attack on Indian language is so stringent that most Bengalis have forgotten that ‘ashbabpotro’ means furniture.

(With inputs from various sources)

(Picture Courtesy:

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

Also Read: With Medicine Running Out, Venezuelans With Transplant Live in Fear

According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS