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Anglo-Indian phrases? 
Posted: 24 June 2007 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]
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In the thread about “big bug”, languagehat posted this:

languagehat - 24 June 2007 02:21 PM

OED:

cheese, n. 2

[Of doubtful origin; but prob. a. Pers. and Urdu chīz ‘thing’. Yule says such expressions used to be common among young Anglo-Indians as ‘My new Arab is the real chīz’, i.e. ‘the real thing’.]

I was interested in this because my Dad is Anglo-Indian, and it got me wondering about whether there were other terms from this source. One I know of is “brinjal” for eggplant/aubergine. My Dad always calls this “brinjal”, but when I started learning Hindi and hanging around with a lot of Punjabi friends, “brinjal” was unknown to any of them. A subsequent search suggested that word came via Portuguese and was more or less exclusively used by Anglo-Indians. Subsequently, I’ve heard the word used in some Tamizh films I own, but certainly in the Indic-language parts of India, “brinjal” does not seem to be common among non Anglo-Indians. As for “chiz”, I’m going to pay more attention to the Hinglish in Hindi films now, because although I have heard “chiz” used for the English “thing”, “baat” would be more common in a Hinglish phrase from what I’ve gathered. Maybe this reflects an Anglo-Indian leaning toward Urdu rather than Hindi? Certainly it was Urdu that my Dad learned at boarding school in the 1930s and early 40s. If anybody has other examples of identifying Anglo-Indian vocabulary or usage, I’d love to know of them.

[ Edited: 24 June 2007 04:26 PM by maxqnz ]
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Posted: 24 June 2007 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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There are quite a few, of course, not all of them currently frequent in conventional English.

I like “barnshoot” (also “banchoot"), which Partridge says is mild or light in English.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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’m guessing “doolally” might count. A elderly friend, who’s since died, not only used the word but had also spent time in the eponymous hospital in Deolali. He vigorously denied being doolally, however. :)

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Posted: 24 June 2007 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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maxqnz: I wrote about brinjal and its many, many cognates here.  (By the way, you might want to edit your post to get your final paragraph out of the “quote” field.)

If you’re interested in Anglo-Indian words, you should bookmark Hobson-Jobson if you haven’t already.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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languagehat - 24 June 2007 04:12 PM

maxqnz: I wrote about brinjal and its many, many cognates here.  (By the way, you might want to edit your post to get your final paragraph out of the “quote” field.)

If you’re interested in Anglo-Indian words, you should bookmark Hobson-Jobson if you haven’t already.

Thanks. I do have Hobson-Jobson on my list of links, along with your site, of course. I’m particularly interested in words like brinjal which might (apparently) identify the speaker as Anglo-Indian by virtue of being more or less restricted to that group of speakers.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Am I missing something about the Hobson-Jobson, or does it not have a browse capability? The link I have brings up a search box, but I can’t seem to find a way to simply browse the dictionary.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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D Wilson - 24 June 2007 03:24 PM

There are quite a few, of course, not all of them currently frequent in conventional English.

I like “barnshoot” (also “banchoot"), which Partridge says is mild or light in English.

Sorry, but this is a real LOL! Hobson-Jobson offers “rascally” for “banchoot”, and it’s not in the OED at all. So I googled it, after thinking maybe it was derived from “jhUth”, meaning “lie, falsehood”. In fact, it’s a corruption of “sister-f*cker”. Not sure how mild or light that would be in English, at least outside the Appalachians.

Also, googling it suggests that the word is more likely to be used by Indians, especially punjabis if the number of times it’s paired with “kuti” is anything to go by, rather than by Anglo-Indians.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The sense/usage of a word is not always congruent with its etymology, of course.

For example, “bugger” (e.g., “Your son is such a cute little bugger") or “ballocks"/"bollix" (e.g., “This is all bollixed up") may be used entirely innocently, and without any reference to the ‘original’ sense of the word (in these cases, in the US, often without even any awareness of any ‘other’ meaning).

Similarly, a native English speaker using “barnshoot” = “rascal” is presumably making no reference to the meaning of the ancestral Hindi expression; in fact he may very well be entirely ignorant of the etymology of English “barnshoot”. Of course the ancestral term is sometimes used lightly in Hindi too.

[ Edited: 24 June 2007 05:45 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 24 June 2007 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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D Wilson - 24 June 2007 05:38 PM

Of course the ancestral term is sometimes used lightly in Hindi too.

Indeed, although madarchod seems more common. I’m wondering the “choot” for “chod” is another reflection of the source being from an Indic language other than Hindi. Had the English version been “barnshot”, I might have guessed the real derivation, but “choot” from “chod” seems quite a stretch. Anyway, I shall ask my Dad if he ever heard it as a child, either as banchoot or barnshoot.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I first came across the word “barnshoot” in the novels of John Masters, many of which are about India and Anglo-Indians** (the best-known is probably Bhowani Junction, which was made into an excellent movie with Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger). According to Masters (who speaks with some authority), “barnshoot” was the English soldiers’ version of a phrase which he renders bahin kachut, and which my Hindi-speaking friends tell me is very, very impolite indeed.

English soldiers (in the days of that “Empire on which the sun never sets") were well-known for picking up turns of phrase (frequently rude and/or obscene) in many languages, mangling them thoroughly, and making them their own.

(**Masters uses the term “Anglo-Indian” to refer to people of mixed English/Indian descent. Thus, in Bhowani Junction, Victoria Jones is Anglo-Indian, Rodney Savage isn’t. Some English people use the term “half-caste”, which I find as unpalatable as the American expression “half-breed")

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Posted: 24 June 2007 10:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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lionello - 24 June 2007 10:40 PM

I first came across the word “barnshoot” in the novels of John Masters, many of which are about India and Anglo-Indians** ...

(**Masters uses the term “Anglo-Indian” to refer to people of mixed English/Indian descent. Thus, in Bhowani Junction, Victoria Jones is Anglo-Indian, Rodney Savage isn’t.

That’s the way I’m using the term. It’s also the way it’s used in the Indian Constitution, iirc, which guaranteed Anglo-Indians a minimum of two seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the federal parliament.

As for bahin kachut, it’s the last word that I’m interested in. It tuns out that the phrase carries the suggestion of action only by implication. I eventuallly found it in my Oxford Hindi-English dictionary, and the phrase literally translates as simply “sister’s vulva”.

As interesting as this little meandering down the byways of Indic vulgarities has been, I’m still regrettably no closer to finding words or phrases that identify the users as likely to be Anglo-Indian. The few references to “barnshoot” suggest that any currency it once had in English was not so much in India as in England itself. There are several google hits to George Orwell’s discussion of the term, and an interesting blog piece on it use among natives of Delhi, but not much about its use, if any by the Anglo-Indian community.

[ Edited: 24 June 2007 11:08 PM by maxqnz ]
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Posted: 24 June 2007 11:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Lionello

Further examples of Indian usage heard in the 70s-90s when I was a reservist: bunduk (rifle), roti (bread) and of course chaa (tea).

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Posted: 24 June 2007 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Max - in 1960 my dad unsuccessfully tried asking for a ‘brinjal’ in a relatively cosmopolitan part of London, but didn’t actually come across one (by then described as an ‘egg-plant’) until the following year. Some time later ‘aubergine’ became the standard word. Now ‘beigun’ is recognised not only by diners in Indian restaurants but also by some greengrocers.

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Posted: 24 June 2007 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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24450239 - 24 June 2007 11:06 PM

Lionello

Further examples of Indian usage heard in the 70s-90s when I was a reservist: bunduk (rifle), roti (bread) and of course chaa (tea).

Yes, chaa is another victory for Punjabi. Maybe this form was easier to adopt than the Hindi chai.  I find myself chopping and changing depending on whom I’m with. When with Punjabi friends, all my “z"s become “j"s, and I drink “cha”, with my Hindi or Urdu speaking friends, it’s “z” and “chai”.

[ Edited: 24 June 2007 11:13 PM by maxqnz ]
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Posted: 24 June 2007 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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24450239 - 24 June 2007 11:11 PM

Max - in 1960 my dad unsuccessfully tried asking for a ‘brinjal’ in a relatively cosmopolitan part of London, but didn’t actually come across one (by then described as an ‘egg-plant’) until the following year. Some time later ‘aubergine’ became the standard word. Now ‘beigun’ is recognised not only by diners in Indian restaurants but also by some greengrocers.

Your Dad asked for a brinjal? How interesting. How did he come to know the plant by that name?

[ Edited: 24 June 2007 11:16 PM by maxqnz ]
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Posted: 24 June 2007 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Max

A giveaway (assuming the Subcontinental person wasn’t speaking to you on the phone or in front of you) was the use of a certain kind of ‘Matric’ English: ‘purchase’ was favoured over ‘buy’, ‘residence’ over ‘home’ and ‘plantain’ over ‘banana’.

Brinjal was what he’d been taught, but he was prepared to call it whatever was necessary to lay his hands on one. Getting some mustard oil to fry it was another tale!

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