Translation 41. Hindi Learning Hints 4. English Loanwords in Contemporary Hindi

Introduction to a Glossary of 2,000 Hindi Words and Expressions of English origin

As I have recently pointed out here,
the growing phenomenon of Hinglish as a hybrid language has aroused public interest and is the subject of academic research. Since Hinglish is widely used by urban Indians (especially young ones and especially in the northern ‘Hindi belt’), by advertisers, and by Bollywood, Hinglish does not lack media publicity. With its impressive linguistic gymnastics, code-switching and code-mixing of Hindi and English at a very fast colloquial rate, Hinglish well deserves continued professional study and tracking because it may have a strong long-term impact on the shape of Hindi. However, from the viewpoint of teaching practical Hindi as a Second Language (HSL), especially to non-Indians, it is not of vital concern at the moment. What does need incorporating into HSL now, via Hindi to foreign language dictionaries and other teaching materials, is a selection of the extraordinary large number of loanwords and loan translations (calques) from English which have already entered into contemporary daily life, and on which Hinglish is partly based.

This sizeable windfall of English Hindi words for lucky English speakers is entirely due to the very special historical links between Hindi and English. In contemporary Hindi, English loan words and phrases have become an essential part of contemporary Hindi. They are taken for granted by Hindi speakers.

Most of the items in this selection will not help students much with conversations in the street or booking a train ticket (although tren and tikat are two very commonly used borrowings, as is a whole family of words based on relrail). The borrowings are, however, useful for English speakers to begin to understand bits and pieces of the spoken and written Hindi currently used by the media and in bureaucratic life as well as by the Indian middle classes in their daily conversation. (Many are also understood by Indians from other social backgrounds.) There are many more of these anglicisms to be picked up as you listen to or read the media or watch Bollywood films.

My credentials are a lifetime interest in language, lexicography, and teaching, and four years as a keen student of HSL (for the purposes of comprehension of written and spoken current affairs in India, rather than as a means of personal communication, which can be more efficiently achieved in English). In the process of this arduous learning experience, I have sought shorcuts. In addition to my personal Romanised Glossary of Hindi words, I have compiled two separate lexical collections, the major one being this list of 2,000 English loanwords encountered in contemporary urban Hindi, and a minor but substantial collection of acronyms used in Hindi, which are also based on the English phonetic system and are therefore instantly recognisable to “us” – like bee.je.pee (BJP), see.bee.aaee (CBI), bee.bee,see, BBC, etc. The smaller acronym collection consists of two types: entities restricted to India and other more universal references, which are also of importance to foreign learners, as well as to native Hindi speakers. The short acronym glossary will be published soon in this series, as ‘Hindi Learning Hints, 5’. (Parts 2 and 3, on Affixes (a VERY essential shortcut for serious students of any language), are still in preparation.) A few very common acronyms, familiar to urban Hindi speakers (and others), are included in the present list.

Notes on the Devanagari and Roman scripts and on my transliteration system

English speakers have an advantage over other HSL learners because of the extraordinary capacity of Hindi phonetics to present near equivalents of almost all English sounds. (This is just not possible with French, Spanish, etc.) The English loans sound like Hindi to Hindi speakers but they also (usually) sound like English and so are instantly recognisable for us in the flow of speech. Although this helps a little in the comprehension process, for most foreign learners, Hindi is a very distant cousin, twice removed, in lexicon (virtually NO cognate words) and in its arcane syntax.

Because of my inbred ‘Roman’ bias, I have found reading Hindi to be a major issue, so my simple transliteration system has been tailored to allow speedy transfer of the Devanagari script to Roman script, for writing and typing. In my opinion, this system also allows more efficient transfer to Internet bilingual translating and transliteration aids, such as those offered by Google and Microsoft. For these purposes, the short ŏ sound of English (as in ‘box’, and ‘Bollywood’) is often best represented by the digraph ‘au’.

Using a capital N or M for nasals seemed a good idea and my laborious attempts to distinguish with italics between various alternative sounds and spellings (Hindi’s multiple t’s, th’s, d’s, dh, r, rh, sh, n, h, and ri, etc.) do seem to work. In short, I find this system more practical and easier to read than some of the official transliteration schemes.

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

Here Hindi ‘ee’ is equivalent to ‘ee’ in English, but single ‘e’ rhymes with ‘rate’, or sometimes with ‘ten’. So ‘pee.em.’ in Hindi is pronounced more or less as P.M. Similarly, ‘tren‘ = train, and ‘em.e.‘ is M.A. (‘aim-eh’). The very frequent double vowel ‘aa+ee’ rhymes with ‘my’ or ‘high’: hence Hindi ‘haaee kort‘ (High Court), or ‘aaee.e.ess.‘ (IAS: I = aaee; A = e; S = ess, the Indian Administrative 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. I am sorry if that offends language purists but this makes it easier for me to cope with a daunting task.

Although most of the items below are single lexical items, special notice should be given to those marked (EH). These are hybrid English-Hindi phrases, which give a very fleeting glimpse of the sorts of ways in which Hindi speakers can assimilate some English words into the Hindi morphological system (the commonest case being combinations of English loan + karnaa, to form compound verbs, which, as Rupert Snell (1990, p.55) has pointed out, are constantly being coined. denaa and honaa also appear in such hybrid compounds.

To obtain a Devanagari version of any (or most) of the words and phrases listed below, type them into the Google or Microsoft ‘Hindi to English’ box and press Enter (for each word).

The extent to which English permeates Hindi is perhaps most easily visible in the use of English initial letters not only for acronyms but for Hindi names. Note that each (English) letter is followed by a full stop (period). This is particularly important if entering a search term on Wikipedia in Hindi, e.g, Pee. Jee. Chidambaran प.ग. चिदंबरम

And, for even more instant evidence of English penetration of the Hindi system, here is the frequently used English alphabet as it appears in Hindi, for example in Hindi acronyms.
*

e. , A
bee. , B
see. , C
dee. , D
ee. , E
ef, , F
gee. , G
ech. , H
aaee. , I
je. , J
ke. , K
el. , L
em. , M
en. , N
o. , O
pee. , P
kyoo. , Q
aar. , R
es. , S
tee. , T
yoo. , U
vee. , V
dablyoo, , W
eks. , X
vaaee. , Y
zed. , Z
(zee. , Z – USA)
*

English loanwords, a sample:

My 2,000 item collection covers most aspects of contemporary Indian life. Many have been carried over from Imperial times but the majority are post-Independence coinages.

karnaa, honaa, denaa compounds:

aapreshan karnaa, to operate
kvaalifaaee karnaa, to qualify
dismis karnaa, to dismiss
distarb karnaa, to disturb
iNvaait karnaa, to invite
iNfaurm karnaa, to inform
saspaiNd karnaa, to suspend

paas honaa, to pass (exam)
naurmalaaeez honaa, to normalise

riport denaa, to report
vot denaa, to vote

From English -tion, -sion

standiNg oveshan, standing ovation
steshan, station
aupreshan, operation
peNshan, pension
blad doneshan, blood donation

Countries and nationality

aarjenteenaa, Argentina
briten, Britain
dubaaee, Dubai
eerak, Iraq
iNglaiNd, England
landan, London
polaiNd, Poland
saaipras, Cyprus
svis, Swiss
svitserlaiNd, Switzerland
thaaeelaiNd, Thailand
vetikan (sitee), The Vatican, V. City
yoo.pee., UP (Uttar Pradesh)
yookren, Ukraine
yoorap, Europe

Personal

baig, bag,
fan, fan; seeliNg fan, ceiling fan
kaimra, camera
peNsil, f, pencil
plag, plug
saiNtimeetar, centimetre, centimeter
shatar, m, shutter
sileNdar, (gas) cylinder
suparmarkat, supermarket

Food and drink

saiNdvich, sandwich
tost, toast
sodaavaatar, soda water
tee baig, teebag
aaisd tee, iced tea
aaisd vaalee chaaee, iced tea (EH)
aaiskreem, icecream
aamlet, omelette
chuiNgam, chewing gum
vetar, waiter

Travel and transport

kaar, f, car
start karnaa, to start (car, etc.)
deezal, diesel
eyarport, airport
steshan, station
bas, bus; bas adda, bus station
rel, rail; relve, railway
rel bhavan, railway office(s) (EH)
ekpatraa rel, monorail (EH)
tez gati rel, hidhspeed rail (EH)
relgaree, f, train
tren, train
rel maarg, (railway) track
riNg rod, Ring Road

tikat, ticket
tikat baaboo, ticket clerk

taiksee, taxi
taikseevaalaa, taxi-driver
meetar se chalo!, drive by the meter (taxi/rickshaw)
veezaa, visa
traival ejensee, travel agency

Media, Films & Internet

rediyo, radio
teevee, TV
satalaait dish, satellite dish

seeriyal, serial, and cereal
veediyo, video
film , f, film
futej, footage
kaimraa, camera
bauleevud, Bollywood,
suparstar, suparstar

iNtarnet, Internet
kampyootar, computer
hardveyar, hardware
aakaash taiblet, Sky Tablet (Indian)
sauftveyar, software
sim kard, Sim card
priNt kareN, Print!
storee ko ret kareN, Rate this story

mobaail, mobile phone
sailfon, mobile phone, cellphone

Education

vee.see., V.C. (Vice Chancellor)

Sport

krikat, cricket
vikat, wicket
aaut!, Out! (cricket)
ampayar, umpire
refaree, referee,
maichfiksiNg, matchfixing
saspaiNd karnaa, to suspend
rikaard tornaa, to break a record(EH)
vestiNdees, West Indies
olampik (kheloN), Olympic (Games) (EH)
besbaul, baseball

Careers and Offices

kareeyar, career
aarkitekt, architect
kamishnar, Commissioner
depyootee kamishnar, Deputy Commissioner
pee.em., P.M.
see.em., C.M (Chief Minister (of a State)
iNjaneeyar, engineer
baaristar,, barrister
mejar jenral, major general
freelaiNs, freelance
kaimraman, camera man
klarkee, f, clerical job (EH)

Commerce

baiNk, bankl; b. akaauNt, b. account
vishva baiNk, World Bank
chaik, cheque
daalar, dollar
hed ofis, head office
siNdiket, syndicate
sentar, Centre

tredmark, trademark
shedyool, schedule
sheyar markat, share market
sheyar bazaar, share market (EH)

taiks, tax
teNdar, tender
pepar klip, paper clip

Medical

iNjekshan, injection
blad, blood; b. preshar, b. pressure
chaikap, check-up
terapee, therapy
hart atak, heart attack
kainsar, cancer; kainsar vigyaan, oncology
teebee, TB
eds, AIDS
veNtiletar, breathing apparatus; life support,

Technical

taiknolojee, technology
seedee., CD
teevee, TV
ilaktranik, electronic
voltej, voltage
shart sarkat, short circuit
jenretar, generator
sailseeas, Celsius
laiNs, lens
staurm vautar drenej, storm water drainage

Science

maiNgneez, m, manganese
global varmiNg, global warming
gobar gais, methane from cow dung (EH)
phaaspharas, phosphorus
plaastik, plastic

Administration, Politics and Law

sartificat, m, certificate
iNdaiks, index
sabsidee, subsidy

vipaksh leedar, Leader of the Opposition
lokpaal bil, ombusdsman Bill/. Law (EH)
bil paas, the passing of a Bill
pulis, police
chaarj sheet, f, charge sheet
laain auf kantrol, Line of Control (Kashmir)

Miscellaneous

bilyan, billion
pop, the Pope
aarkestraa, orchestra
janvaaree, January
sitaMbar, september
aktoobar, October
disaMbar, December
etc.
pistaul, pistol
bam, bomb
*

A further alphabetical sample is available here:
‘Basic Hindi Vocabulary for Lucky English Speakers’

*
The above selection represents just one tenth of my (Romanised) alphabetical list of 2,000 selected English loanwords (not exhaustive by any means) which will shortly be available by email as a .pdf document to those who are particularly interested in the phenomenon. (ompukalani AT hotmail.com)

For those of you who will not see the full document, I would like to share my Acknowledgments for this whole project since there are references which may be of special use to you, as they were to me.

Acknowledgements

Over the two and a half years of my search for English loanwords, etc. I have gleaned vital information from many written sources (dictionaries, grammars, and articles on the Hindi language), which substantially supplemented my own intensive observations of media and Internet usage.

I am grateful to my Hindi tutor, Mr Indramohan Singh, for his constant help and encouragement.

I was also extremely fortunate to come across three immensely useful sources of English borrowings in Hindi. From these three sources, my collection was boosted by several hundred examples, even though I made a judicious selection of their offerings.

My very special sources were:

Hardev Bahri’s Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary (2 vols.). This is an excellent (and Romanised) reference book, the only Hindi dictionary of those I consulted which has methodically tried to cover this important aspect of the contemporary Hindi language. (An updated version would be most welcome.)

Volker Schuermann’s Bollywood Dictionary – available online.
and the
DK Visual Bilingual Dictionary of Hindi, which deals realistically and in great depth with the nomenclature of everyday life. [dk.com]
*

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