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The Indian influence on English Language

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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: wordpress.com)

Next Story

The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)