Archive for August 2011

Basic Hindi Vocabulary for Lucky English-speaking Learners

16 August 2011

If you speak English and wish to speed up your acquisition of general Hindi vocabulary, consider the 400 words listed below in transliterated form as a beginner’s bonus. Most of the items, which are commonly used loanwords from English, will not help much with your travel or with conversations in the street but they are useful for beginning to understand bits and pieces of the spoken and written Hindi currently used by the media and in political life as well as by the Indian middle classes in their daily conversation. There are many more of these to be picked up as you listen to or read the media.

This windfall for English speakers is entirely due to the very special historical links between Hindi and English. In contemporary Hindi, English loan words and phrases (and the much more complex and fascinating phenomenon of “code-switching”), have become an essential part of contemporary Hindi. The total number and rate of borrowings far exceed the number of English words used in French, which so upset French purists. In India the thousands of loanwords are taken for granted, especially as part of globalisation.You will already have witnessed the usage in practically any Bollywood film you have seen. It is a linguistic wonder to behold, and it is not confined to scripted dialogue or commentaries. At the more basic word and phrase level, a striking advantage which facilitates these borrowings is the ability of Hindi to represent most English sounds fairly accurately (in a rough and ready way) within Hindi phonetics. This is simply not possible in languages like French, Spanish and many (most?) others.

To allow the English words to ‘emerge’ from the transliterations below, simply pronounce what you see. Some may amuse you: smile while you learn!

It is essential to know that Hindi ‘ee’ = ee in English but single ‘e’ rhymes with ‘rate’, or sometimes with ‘ten. So ‘peeem’ in Hindi is pronounced more or less as ‘pee aim’ = P.M. Similarly, ‘tren‘ = train, and ‘eme‘ is M.A. (‘aim-eh’). The double vowel ‘aa+ee’ rhymes with ‘my’ or ‘high’: hence Hindi ‘haaee kort‘ (High Court), or ‘aaeeeess‘ (IAS: I = aaee; A = e; S = ess, the Indian Civil Service).

Also the letter ‘v’ is often pronounced as a soft version of ‘w’ as in ‘vikeeleeks’. Do not be distracted by the lack of capital letters in the transliterations. That is the Devanagari alphabet in action. Also, for your and my convenience, I have not used Devanagari alphabetical order.

Although most of the items below are single lexical items, special notice should be given to those marked (E/H). These are hybrid English-Hindi phrases, which give a very fleeting glimpse of the sorts of complex and very dexterous code-switching that goes on all the time in contemporary sophisticated Hindi. If you wish to see an analysis of this real code-switching, I strongly recommend this academic paper by Dr Tomasz Borowiak on “Hindi Englishization”.

Basic Loanwords

aaeeaaeetee, IIT = Indian Inst of Technology
aaeeeess, IAS, India Administrative Service: (‘Bharateey prashaasnik sevaa’)
aaeeesaaee, ISI (Pakistani Military Intelligence)
aaeeseesee, ICC, International Cricket Council (‘antarrashtreeyaa krikat parishad’)
aiscrim, icecream,
aksijaan, oxygen,
aaut, Out! (cricket)
aaeeseeyoo, ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
aktoobar, October
alteemetam, ultimatum
apeel, appeal
aprail, April
athoritee
auph, of
baiNk, bank
baklash
beebeesee, BBC
beeesef, BSF, Border Security Force
beejepee, BJP
bil, bill & Bill (Political)
bildar
bildiNg
bituman
biznas
blad preshar, blood pressure
blaikmel, blackmail
blem gem, blame game
bloo laain, Blue Line (buses)
boiNg, Boeing
boks
boleevud, Bollywood
brek, break

The rest of this long list may be viewed here.

An Unofficial Analysis of India’s Current Problems

4 August 2011

Are you bewildered by the frequent announcements of India’s recent scandals and scams (beginning with the Commonwealth Games last year) and the increasing media and public pressure to bring about overdue changes in the “system”, especially the major popular campaigns by peace activist Anna Hazare and the influential and volatile yoga superstar Swami Ramdev?

Then you may find some enlightenment in the following recent blogs by one of India’s best known bloggers, Amit Varma. Varma has been blogging (as ‘India Uncut’) since 2004 and a few years ago retired from journalism to write novels, the first of which was My Friend Sancho (2009).

These are the blog references. Do they help?

April 2011. ‘Where Anna Hazare Gets it Wrong’

June 2011. ‘India’s Second Freedom Struggle’

As light relief after all that heavy stuff, you may well enjoy this related satirical piece by Varma.

Amazon UK Reviews for Eileen Younghusband’s ‘One Woman’s War’

1 August 2011

Two weeks after the book launch there are 5 reviews on Amazon UK
(Will insular Amazon USA incorporate these one day?)

An untold story from WW2, and a very good read
By Hugh Turnbull (Wales) (Real Name)

A remarkable book which tells the untold story of a group of young women who played a huge role in saving Britain from the Nazis. Eileen Younghusband not only gives belated credit to the unsung heroines who worked at the heart of Britain’s radar defences, but were sworn to secrecy long after the war. She also speaks for the millions of ordinary people had their lives turned upside down by the need to contribute to the war effort. Her accounts of her wartime romances and her “make do and mend” wedding are almost as fascinating as her extraordinarily demanding job, helping to defeat Nazi bombing raids or save downed Allied aircrew. This is a complete picture of WW2 – from the build-up to the grim aftermath – as seen by a young woman who was just eighteen when it started but had to grow up extremely quickly. Those of us who were born later can only thank Eileen and her generation, and wonder whether we could have coped half as well.

An incredible story written by an incredible woman
By HC123 [Check this reviewer’s contributions on Amazon UK]

I haven’t read many autobiographies because they always seem to be written by celebrities, but this is a truly incredible story of an unsung hero. The author writes of her WW2 experiences in such a way that it’s as though she is telling the story to you personally. I have always been interested in the World Wars and this book provides not only an individual perspective but also remarkably accurate facts relating to the status of the war effort, allowing the reader the gain knowledge of Ms Younghusband’s life whilst learning more about the hardship and timeline of war.

This book can be read in two ways; an effort to learn more about the Second World War or just an incredible story featuring the love and loss of an incredible woman. Either way it can be enjoyed by anyone anywhere.

Better Late then Never
By Brian

This is a fine contribution to the history of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in World War II. Readers will be grateful that the 90 year old author’s memory so sharply recalls the detail of her war service, in particular her special service training and activities as a radar-savvy operator in the Filter Rooms of the British Royal Air Force in the early 1940s. Further revelations are offered by Younghusband about her equally vital and accurate work in Belgium towards the end of the War tracking the launch sites of V2 rockets.

In the July 2011 issue of the magazine “Saga”, Emma Soames (grand-daughter of Sir Winston Churchill) describes this ex-WAAF officer as “one of the mentally sprightliest people I’ve come across” and recommends “One Woman’s War” to all those “interested in the untold stories of that time”, especially for “its valuable contribution to our overall knowledge of that war.”

WAAFs at War
By Simon Mawer (Italy) (REAL NAME)

This book struck a strong chord with me because my mother served in the WAAF during the war, and worked in the top secret Filter Room as did Eileen Younghusband. However, my mother is no longer around to talk about her experiences whereas Mrs Younghusband most certainly is. And that is the tone and charm of the book – it is oral history put on paper, as though you are sitting in a chair beside the author and hearing her reminisce about night watches in the bunker at Fighter Command HQ or plotting V2 trajectories in Belgium in late 1944. Amidst the technical details the author also recounts her life and loves, the personal experiences of a young woman on active duty during a period that is starting to seem like distant history. It is an inspiring story from a remarkable woman.

How else can we thank that special generation?
By Clive Elsbury

This wonderful account of life during WW11, when a whole generation of British and allied citizens joined together to give civil populations the peace now enjoyed, draws the reader into the ‘pressure cooker’ atmosphere that those folk experienced. In the book, so well written, we join this lady in her journey from being an Au Pair to a most able tracker of missiles which enabled allied aircraft to destroy the launch vehicles. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thank you for helping make my world safer.
*

(Please see my previous blog on my feisty 90 year old friend Eileen and her book. I am very proud of her writing and envious of her energy! It was a privilege and a pleasure to attend the book launch activities and to see Eileen review an RAF Guard of Honour at RAF Saint Athans, Wales.)