Translation 43. Learner’s Guide to Hindi Suffixes. Introduction

Posted 30 June 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This article in the Handy Hindi Hints series is about Hindi suffixes (and other word ending constituents). It is the companion of my recent article on Hindi prefixes (et al), aimed at fellow learners of Hindi as a Second Language. If you missed that one it is still there.

These articles and their copious examples are the fruit of my own ongoing documented struggle with the Hindi language. They have been composed for my own benefit as a shortcut to comprehending the (alien to Anglos) Hindi lexicon. As before, I am happy to share this detailed information with other learners of Hindi as a Second Language. hoping that more knowledgeable readers will assist us all by suggesting corrections and additions to further ease our painful but invigorating linguistic Himalayan climb.

In view of the scope and length of this analysis of suffixes (29 pages, with several hundred examples and translations), those who feel interested enough in the topic already can access the .pdf on my language website ( For others, especially those who are not sure if my offering may be of use to them, I present the following basic examples of Hindi word families and a few short extracts from the pdf.

The full version is available here.

Hindi Word Families

As a preliminary exercise, let us consider the following Hindi word families, which give an idea of the wide lexical scope to be covered in this compilation. They also show, better than any description, how helpful it is to be able to know the meaning of suffixes and other lexical endings available in the Hindi language.

1. darshan

darshan, m, sight, seeing, view
darshan karnaa, to see, visit

adarshan, invisible
darshaanaa, to exhibit, show
darshak, m, bystander, visitor, spectator,
darshan shaastr, philosophy
darshanik, philosophical
darshee, observer, seer
darshit, shown, displayed
darshneey, noticeable, worth seeing (YK, 125)
doordarshan, m, television
doordarshee, farsighted
doordarsheetaa, farsightedness, sagacity
adoordarshitaa, shortsightednesss
maargdarshan, m, guidance
nidarshak, illustrative, demonstrator
nidarshan, m, example, illustration
paardarshitaa, f, transparency
paridarshan, m, panoramic view
pathpradarshak, m, leader, guide
pradarshan, m, show, demonstration, performance
pratham pradarshan, premiere
pratyaksh darshan, m, firsthand view
satdarshee, m, seer of truth
sudarshan, good-looking, elegant
virodh pradarshan karnevaale, protesters, demonstrators

2. sukh

sukh, m. happiness, pleasure
sukhee, happy
sukhkaarak, pleasant
sukhjanak, giving pleasure
sukhdaataa, sukhdaayinee (f), giving pleasure
sukhpoorvak, happily
sukhvaad, hedonism
sukhvaadee, hedoinist

3. vichaar

vichaar, m, thought, idea
vichaaraatmak, thoughtful
vichaarak, thinker
vichaararth, discussion
vichaardhaaraa, f, ideology
vichaardhaaraaparak, ideological
vichaarheen, thoughtless, unthinking
vichaarneey, worth considering
vichaarpoorn, thoughtful
vichaarpoorvak, thoughtfullY
vichaarsheel, thoughtful
vichaarsheeltaa, f, thoughtfulness
vichaarvaad, idealism
vichaarvaadee, m/f, idealist
vichaarvaan, thoughtful

vaichaarik, thoughtful, ideological

Word formation processes: 4 examples from the full study.

From Part 1 (Functional word endings)

-ee, f, abstract nouns (from nouns or adjectives)
choree, f, theft (chor, m, thief)
daaktaree, f, medical profession
dostee, f, friendship
mazdooree, f, labourer’s wage

With adjectives
beemaaree, f, illness
bahadooree, f, bravery (bahaadur, brave)
giraftaaree, f, arrest
eemandaaree, f, honesty
hoshiyaaree, f, intelligence

2. Invariable adjectives and nouns

A. Origin or affiliation (nouns and adjectives)

amreekee, American
banarsee, from Benares (Varanasi)
bhaaratvaasee, Indian citizen
cheenee, Chinese
gujraatee, Gujarati
islaamee, Islamic <islaam?
madraasee, from Madras
paNjaabee, Punjabi
roosee, Russian
videshee, foreign, foreigner

B. agents and “doers”, -er, -ist, etc.

adhikaaree, m, official, officer
adhohastaaksharee, the undersigned
shaastree, scientist
telee, oil worker

C. Other invariable nouns and adjectives

asarkaaree, non-governmental
(Note also: asarkaaree [asar+kaaree], effective)
bhrashtaachaaree, m, corrupt person
dhanee, wealthy (person)
hridayasparshee, heart-touching
krodhee, angry
nivaasee, inhabitant(s)
phaujee, military
sukhee, happy
zarooree, urgent, important, necessary


From Part 1

Abstract nouns, masculine : -ness, -hood, etc.

akelaapan, m, feeling of loneliness
bachpan, childhood,
gaNjapan, baldness
kachchaapan, rawness
kalaapan, blackness
khoklaapan, m, hollowness
khulepan, openness (khulaa, open, clear)
motapan, fatness
nayaapan, novelty
paagalpan, madness
pakkaapan, thoroughness
peelaapan, yellowness
samajhpan, understanding
uneeNdaapan, m, drowsiness
vidhvaapan, m, widowhood
vigyaapan, advertisement

From Part 2 (Labels)


Very productive
(For -kaaree as an adjectival suffix, see Part 4.)

chaayaakaar, m, photographer
chitrakaar, painter, artist, designer
geetkaar, lyricist
kahaanikaar, m, story writer
kalaakaar, m, artist
koshkaar, lexicographer
lekhakkaar, accountant (lekhak, writer/author)
moortikaar, sculptor
naatakkaar, m, dramatist, playwright
patrkaar, journalist <
rachnaakaar, m. author, creator
saNgeetkaar, musician
vaastukaar, m, architect
vivrankaar, m, commentator
yaNtrakaar, mechanic

The noun kartaa (doer, maker) is also used as a suffix.
kaaryakartaa, m, worker, activist
niyaNtrankartaa, m, controller
peshkartaa, m, presenter
saakshaatkaarkartaa, m, interviewer

From Part 3 Descriptive elements (Things get even more interesting from here on.)
(The first of the 4 main descriptive suffixes: -ik, -ak, -eey, -it)

(consonant +) -ik

The number ONE descriptive suffix is -ik, often equivalent to the English suffix -al
or -ic (or -ical) which, coincidentally, it closely resembles homophonically. It is usually attached directly to a noun, e.g. samaaj, society + ik > samaajik, social.

aadhaarik, basic
aadhunik, modern (
aanubhavik, empirical
aanukramik, sequential
aanuvarnik, alphabetical ?
aatmik, spiritual
adhyaatmik, spiritual
aaraMbhik, initial, early, preliminary
aarthik, economic, financial
aastik, believer
akaalik, inopportune
dharmik, religious
maasik, monthly
paarasparik, reciprocal
raajneetik, political
samaarik, strategic
samaajik, social
shareerik, bodily, physical (body)
upyogik, useful (pr upi-)
varshik, annual
vyapaarik, business atr., trade atr.

1. Standard vowel changes occur:
i > ai; e > ai; u > au ; o and oo > au

alaukik, unwordly, non-secular
amaulik, unoriginal
anaitik, unethical
itihaas (history) > itihaisik
pauranik, legendary
vaigyaanik, scientist
vaikalpik, optional
vaicharik, thoughtful, idealogical
vaitanik, salaried. paid
vaideshik, foreign

From Part 4

From poorv, full. It is used to form adverbs.

aadaarpoorvak, respectfully
adhikaarpoorvak, authoritative, with authority
dhyaanpoorvak, carefully
kushalpoorvak, safely
nishchaypoorvak, firmly
prempoorvak, lovingly, agreeably
shaNtipoorvak, peacefully
sukhpoorvak, happily
suvidhaapoorvak, conventionally
veerpoorvak, valiantly, heroically
vichaarpoorvak, thoughtfully
yuktipoorvak, skilfully
vishvaaspoorvak, confidently

From Part 5


Highly productive of masculine nouns and, with common suffixes like -ik, adjectives also.

aayog, m, a commission (body)
abhiyog, accusation
asahyog, m, non-cooperation
durupyog, improper use, wasteful
manoyog, m, concentration, single-mindedness
niyog, m, employment
prayog, m, use; experiment
pratiyogaa/ee, competitor
pratiyogitaa, competition
sahyog, cooperation
sahyogtaa, support
sahyogee, assistant, colleague, ally
saMyogik, accidental, fortuitous
suyog, m, happy chance, serendipity
udyog, industry [scr.]
udyogpati, industrialist
upyog, use (pr. upiyog)
upyogee, useful, helpful
upyogitaa, f, usefulness, suitability
viyog, separation

-yogya, -able <yogya, able, worthy
niryogya, disabled
Well, there you are! The above and another 20+ pages are available here. As a potential shortcut to achieving wider comprehension of the ‘alien’ Hindi lexicon, the broad system of suffixes and suggested translations offered in this compendium is surely worth attention.

Reference List

Agnihotri, Rama Kant, Hindi. An Essential Grammar, Routledge, London & New York, 2006. (pp. 57-75 provide an original analysis of suffixes.)
Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, edited by Henk Wagenaar and Sangeeta S. Parikh, New Delhi, Allied Publishers, 1996.

Bahri, Hardev, Rajpal Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary, 2 vols., Delhi, Rajpal Publishing, 2011.
(This is possibly the most helpful bilingual romanised dictionary for intermediate and advanced English-speaking learners of Hindi.)

Kachru, Yamuna, Hindi, Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2006. (pp. 114-127 are crammed with concise information which I have quoted directly for a small number of those suffixes which I have not met.

Koul, Omkar N., Modern Hindi Grammar, Springfield, VA, Dunwoody Press, 2008, pp. 69-72).
This work is available for download from
Professor Koul at

McGregor, R. S., Outline of Hindi Grammar, OUP, 3rd. ed., 1995. His treatment of suffixes (pp 211-214) is a very useful starting point on this topic and the author’s treatment of the -saa particle (pp. 161-163) is particularly helpful.

India and Hindi Portfolio, 2009-2013. Brian Steel

Posted 22 May 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language, India

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Updated February  2016

In 2009, Australia was not aware that it needed my assistance. Neither was I. In 2012, however, the government discovered that it has almost half a million Indian citizens and visiting students and, logically if belatedly, it has been trying to encourage its educational establishments and suitable citizens to take up the study of Hindi in order to contribute to the faster growth of existing Indo-Australian links and trade.

Since some of my private Internet contributions relate to both the tenacious study of Hindi by one Australian (myself) and the recent portrayal of India in foreign media and books, I shyly reveal this brief portfolio of offerings to date.

Now, what about a retrospective study grant?


2010 October
Background Reading on Contemporary India

2010 November
Contemporary India. 1. Basic Sources of Information
Contemporary India. 1a. Basic Sources of Information. Catherine Taylor’s Possible Sequel to Sarah Macdonald’s Interpretation of India

2011 January
Contemporary India. Basic Sources of Information. 2. New Books by Patrick French and Anand Giridharadas

2011 August
An Unofficial Analysis of India’s Current Problems

2011 December
The Australian’s interest in Contemporary India. Part 1

2012 February
The Australian’s Interest in Contemporary India. Part 2

2013 March
The Indian Investigative Magazine Tehelka and its Hindi Version


2010 August
Translation 22. Cultural Content of Given Names. The Case of Hindi

2011 January
Translation 26. An Online Hindi & Urdu Glossary of Bollywood films by Volker Schuermann

2011 August
Basic Hindi Vocabulary for English-Speaking Learners

and a shorter version, August 2011:
Basic Hindi Vocabulary for Lucky English-speaking Learners

2011 December
Hindi Acronyms are based on English phonetics

2012 June
Translation 36. Free Internet Translation Software: The Contest between Google Translate and Microsoft’s BING Translator. Russian and Hindi

2012 September
Translation 37. Arvind and Kusum Kumar’s magnum opus: the Bilingual Hindi and English Thesaurus

2012 October
Translation 38. Hindi Learning Shortcuts. Introduction to a New Series

“This new web page reflects the course of my broadening interest in contemporary India as a whole and in one of its major languages, Hindi.”
In October 2012 I have finally felt able to begin to post a series of articles on the Hindi language based on my (determined) 4-year struggle to add Hindi to the list of languages that I can comprehend. I am now comprehending, but still quite slowly!
It is my hope that the series, Hindi Learning Hints, may be of some use to fellow foreign learners of Hindi, in particular to those for whom English is a native or major language. I hope that those who are further advanced in this process than myself, as well as any Hindi-speakers who may chance to see these articles, may be able to favour me with their corrections of my misunderstandings and errors, preferably at ”

2012 November
Hindi Learning Hints. 1. The Versatile vaalaa Suffix (Introduction)

Translation 39. A Short Reference List for Hindi learners & Notes on the suffix vaalaa / ‘wallah’

2013 January
Translation 40. Hindi-English-Hinglish, an Indian ménage à trois
Translation 41. Hindi Learning Hints 4. English Loanwords in Contemporary Hindi

2013 May
Handy Hindi Hints. 2. Selected Prefixes and Other Word Formation Elements
[First Draft]

Click to access hindi2_prefixes.pdf

Translation 42. Learner’s Guide to Hindi Prefixes and word formation. Introduction

* Update:
Handy Hindi Hints. 3. Hindi Suffixes and Word Formation [June 2013]

Click to access bsteelhindi3_suffixes.pdf

Hindi Learning Hints 4. 2,500 English Loanwords in Contemporary Hindi [Unpublished Draft]

Hindi Learning Hints 5. Postpositions
(108+ Hindi Postpositions. A Comprehensive List for HSL Students. Draft.’)

Click to access bsteelhindi5_postpositions.pdf

[December 2013]

Update. February 2016:

30 April 2014  Linguistic Glimpses of the 2014 Indian General Elections Through English Loanwords in Hindi

23 December 2014 Translation 49. French Loanwords in English. Pronunciation Guide for Hindi Speakers. Introduction

27 March 2015  Translation 51. Arvind Kumar’s Word Power in English

21 February 2016. Book: English Loanwords, Abbreviations, and Acronyms in Hindi. A Romanised Guide to Hindi Media Usage.


Translation 53. English Loanwords in Hindi. Lexical References.




Translation 42. Learner’s Guide to Hindi Prefixes and word formation. Introduction

Posted 20 May 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The full 20-page study, with 800 examples (and a fuller Introduction), is available here.

Hindi word formation is a wide and complex lexical and morphological field. The following two studies will cover some aspects of word formation of special interest and potential benefit for learners of Hindi as a Second Language. They are offered in Draft form, in the hope that those more knowledgeable will send me their corrections and suggestions in order to make this amateur compilation more accurate and useful for myself and for fellow intermediate students of Hindi.
After four years of study, I remain deeply engaged in a time- and energy-sapping struggle with this fascinating but quite difficult foreign language. Some of my previous language-learning strategies have proved very useful in keeping me on a slowly productive learning curve but the extreme foreignness of Hindi script, vocabulary, morphology and grammar has presented a formidable linguistic Himalayan range to scale and here I am, still exploring the foothills. All these Handy Hindi Hints articles are therefore basically for my own benefit, but the considerable work involved makes the results potentially worth sharing with others on the same long trek.

One of the special difficulties for speakers of English (and many other languages) is that Hindi vocabulary does not offer any of the usual convenient and comforting ‘toeholds’ or mnemonics which are available to us in our attempts to speed up comprehension of the foreign languages we are most likely to learn: the European Romance Languages. A large quantity of words passed down from Latin are still easily and instantly comprehensible to us in these languages.

This applies most particularly to those words and word families containing familiar prefixes and suffixes, like con-, dis-, mis-, pre-, pro-, un- etc.
-ate, -ary, -ful, -ive, -ous, -sion, -tion, etc.

As a simple example of the practical value of this shared knowledge, take the word constitution with its prefix, con- and suffix, -tion. In many countries of Europe, and beyond, the corresponding term is instantly identified (especially in its written form):
constitution (French), constitución, costituzione, constituição, constitució and constituție, etc. Equal similarities apply to most other words containing the affixes con- and -tion and, indeed, to many other cognate Latin (and other) prefixes and suffixes.

This is a valuable learning advantage that the second language learner probably takes for granted while wrestling with the many very real problems of the foreign language.

In learning Hindi, however, NONE of these basic similarities exist and as a consequence, most native Hindi words have to be individually committed to memory. This is such a huge task that the only way to make satisfactory progress is to find shortcuts.

One obvious strategy is to systematise one’s lexical acquisitions by studying the morphology of Hindi word formation in order to build up an appreciation of Hindi word families by memorising common prefixes, suffixes and other frequently used word-compounding elements like those I shall be introducing in this academically unorthodox but (I hope) learner-friendly study.

This article and the following one will deal with detailed analyses of these two types of word formation in Hindi.

1. Words which consist of the addition of a particle (prefix) or an existing word to an existing word or ‘word base’ to form semantically related words.

2. Other selected word formations which consist of a suffix, or compounding word or element appended to an existing word. These words and compounds will be the subject of my next article.

(See Reference List for publishing details.)

In my study of the lexicon of written and spoken media Hindi, I have been especially aided by the authors of two excellent bilingual romanised dictionaries:

Hardev Bahri, Rajjpal Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary, 2 vols., Delhi, Rajpal Publishing, 2011. (In Vol. 2, there are Appendices on Prefixes (upsarg) on pp. 1767-1771 and on Suffixes (pratyay) on pp. 1772-1778.)

Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, edited by Henk Wagenaar and Sangeeta S. Parikh
(New Delhi, Allied Publishers, 1996.)

For some months I have also had the luxury of referring to the bilingual Hindi and English Thesaurus by Arvind Kumar (both the online version and the printed one) and in the last three months, I have also benefitted from the recent research and romanised renderings offered in Dr. Badrinaath Kapoor’s Advanced Hindi-English Dictionary (New Delhi, Prabhaat Prakaashan, 2007).

Of the Hindi grammars I have consulted, the most thorough treatment of prefixes and suffixes is in Professor Yamuna Kachru’s magisterial study, Hindi (John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2006, Chapter 8, ‘Word Formation’, pp 111-129. This very densely packed chapter also deals with other characteristic forms of lexical compounding in Hindi which learners need to know.

Also invaluable in my initial Hindi studies and as a constant reference point was R.S.McGregor’s enduring classic analysis, Outline of Hindi Grammar, OUP, 3rd. ed., 1995. His treatment of word formation affixes (pp 207-215) is a useful starting point on these topics.

I am also grateful to my tutor, Indramohan Singh, for timely answers to a series of last-minute queries.


Selected Hindi Prefixes and Other Initial Compounding Elements

(Definitions in inverted commas are from Yamuna Kachru.)

1. Negatives, antonyms, opposition

a-, “not, without”
an-, ana-, “not, without”
duh- : + dur-, dush- “bad, difficult”
ku-, “bad, deficient”
nih-, nir-, nis-, nish-, “without”
par- other
prati- 1. against
vi-. 1. “different, opposite”
[vi-2, : See’Section 5.]

2. Positive

su-, good
sat-, sad-, true
dharm (COMPOUND)

3. Number, quantity, size

alp (COMPOUND), small
adh-, and ardh-, half
bahu- ( C ) multi-, poly-
ek-, one
du- (do-), two-
dvi-, two, twin
tri-, three-

4. References to place, position, order and time (similar to some English prepositions and prefixes)

(The brief introductory glosses in inverted commas given below are from Professor Yamuna Kachru, pp. 112- 113 and 124-125.)

aa-, “to, toward, up to”
abhi-, “toward, intensity”
adhi-, “additional, above”
[adho-, lower]
aNtah, aNtar, “inter”
anu-, “after”
ap-. “away, off, down”
ati-, “excessive”
av-, “away, diminution”
door-, far, distant
[nav-, new(ly), neo-]

pari-, “around, whole”
[poorv-, (time): former, previous
(place): east(ern)]
pra-, 1. before, pre-, forward
[pra-, 2. excellent. supreme. See Section 5.]
[punah and punar-, [re-]

up(a)-, up(i)-, “subordinate”
ut, ud-, un-, “upward”
[sah-, with, co-]
[baa-, containing, with]
saN-, with, together
[san- / sam-, same, equal]

5. Intensity or degree

[poorn-, full(y)]
pra- 2. “forward, excess”
[vi- 2. completely]
[saarv-, sarv-, all-]

6. Similar COMPOUND elements indicating scale, rank and intensity

madhya-, ( C), medium, middle-
madhyam, ( C), medium
mukhya- . chief, main
raaj-, royal
vishva ( C), universal, world

7. Personal

aatma- ( C), self-
sva(a)-, self, own
praan- ( C), life-
yog ( C), combination, joining, yoga
mano-, mental, psycho-

8. Selected productive compounding words

8.1 Elements

agni ( C), fire
bhoo, ( C) and bhoomi ( C), land, soil
jal ( C ), water
vaayu ( C) air

8.2 People

jan ( C ), people
lok ( C), people
jeev ( C), & jeevan ( C)
jaat ( C) & jaati ( C)
arth, ( C), money; meaning
raashtra, (C ) nation

8.3 Action Compounds

kaarya ( C), work, action
kriyaa ( C) action
krit-, done

All these are examined and illustrated in detail as a vocabulary-building exercise on my Hindi web page. Approximately 800 examples and translations are given as well as glosses for the ‘base word’ to which the prefix or other element is added.

The Indian Investigative Magazine Tehelka and its Hindi Version

Posted 31 March 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: India

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As English-speaking businessmen, tourists and spiritual seekers would all agree, one of the special advantages of going to India is that you don’t need to learn one or more foreign languages because they “all” speak, write and communicate in perfect English, whether in the (predominantly Hindi) North or the Dravidian South. Some foreign journalists might agree, although it is likely that those whose reports are most valued overseas have learnt a relevant Indian language, especially Hindi or Tamil. (Like Mark Tully, Edward Luce, Kris Kremmer, Patrick French, etc.)

For English-speaking foreign journalists, one of the most valuable sources of information on life in contemporary India is the highly independent investigative magazine Tehelka, whose dramatic 12-year history of sensational début and (persecuted) decline, followed by a slow but determined and vigorous revival (now including a thriving website) is well documented.

According to several Hindi dictionaries, Tehelka ( तहलका Ta-hal-kaa ) carries semantic content involving sensation, commotion, hubbub or hullabaloo. Tehelka itself clarifies the matter for us by quoting Time Magazine’s absolutely admirable definition:

“Tehelka is a delightful Urdu word, difficult to translate. It refers to that special kind of tumult provoked by a daring act, or a sensational piece of writing.”

Although this forthright intention nearly caused its early demise, the magazine has certainly lived up to its name and orientation, both the inspired creations of Tarun J. Tejpal. The current Internet motto is: “Free. Fair. Fearless”.

On its website Tehelka describes itself thus:
“On January 31, 2004, after more than two years of persecution, Tehelka was reborn as a weekly newspaper committed to constructive, crusading journalism. As a people’s paper geared to take a stand, to follow the hard investigative story. A fearless paper ready to create opinion, and not just remain a passive vehicle of news.
Over the years, Tehelka has firmly established itself as a people’s media choice. With public interest journalism, serious opinion and analysis, Tehelka has earned unmatched credibility and brand recall.”
(More of Tehelka’s amazing inside story is available from its Editor-in-Chief, Shoma Chaudhury, on

Independent writers also confirm and flesh out the Tehelka saga.

Mira Kamdar presents the “Tehelka Tapes” story in Planet India. The Turbulent Rise of the World’s Largest Democracy (Simon and Schuster, 2007,pp. 93-94):
“In March 2001, the fledgling weekly Tehelka rocked the nation when it released tapes secretly made by two of its reporters, Aniruddha Bahal and Mathew Samuel, showing bribes being taken in the ministry of defence at the highest level of the Indian Government.”

Kamdar also describes the retaliation by authorities intent on punishing Tehelka and its staff for the embarrassment caused and she notes the courageous resistance by the editors and reporters. As a result of government action, Tehelka’s staff was reduced from 120 to 4, and their main financial backer, Sharma Mehra, was prosecuted. Kamdar adds the encouraging happy ending by explaining that finally, through sheer determination, and backing from media personalities and others, the editor Tarun Tejpal [and his managing editor, Shoma Chaudhury] managed to reopen the paper in 2004. As a result, of strong support, the printed editions sell well and “The online edition reaches readers around the world. The paper continues to conduct sting operations, exposing corruption at every turn [ …].”

In his acclaimed 2011 study, India. An Intimate Biography of 1.2 Billion People, (London Allen Lane, 2011), Patrick French offers more background on Tehelka as well as specific quotations from the original sensational “Tapes”. In his chapter on wealth, business, politics and corruption in contemporary India, French makes the point that since 2000 the transparency factor has played an increasingly important role in Indian journalism and life:

“One of the strongest weapons against corruption was transparency – or a fear of being caught. Taking bribes was now becoming annoyingly difficult for senior bureaucrats and politicians, such was the fear of spy cameras. The 2005 “Right to Information Act”, combined with the new media’s love of spying and bugging, appeared to be undermining certain types of graft.” The author goes on to give three pages of details about the hazardous Tehelka undercover sting of 2001, involving politicians, military officers and bureaucrats, claiming that this was the incident which “sparked this shift, catching and shaming people for the sort of behaviour that had always been rumoured but never so graphically demonstrated” (p. 217). Be that as it may, after a long quote from the secretly taped Tehelka investigation, Patrick French adds that although the Defence Minister was forced to resign, “the most outrageous thing about this exposé was not the corruption […] but the state’s response to the dishonesty. The prosecution of those involved was half-hearted, and much more effort was devoted to prosecuting Tehelka, which was nearly destroyed by repeated investigations and court cases […]” (p. 219).

So much for the “known knowns” about Tehelka. Less well known outside India, presumably because a (difficult) foreign language is involved, is the fact that since 2008, Tehelka has also published a Hindi version. However, unless you peruse the issues (or at least the Contents pages, you may not realise that Tehelka in Hindi contains much information not printed in its English version. Some of this extra information really needs to be more widely studied and reported on by foreign India watchers, because it is also the fruit of Tehelka’s ongoing commitment to revealing information which the public deserves to know. Another reason for foreign journalists to follow “Tehelka in Hindi” is that writing sensational reports in Hindi is likely to attract less official attention than writing them in English. Yet another positive factor is that India is not yet showing any signs of a decline in newspaper and magazine sales.

To justify my main assertion that a knowledge of Hindi is essential for foreign journalists, I propose to refer to 3 articles published in “Tehelka in Hindi” ( in December 2012 and January and February 2013. I am grateful to my translator colleague Suyash Suprabh for supplying me with these valuable copies of Tehelka.

1. The cover of Tehelka (Hindi) for 31 December 2012 announces the 12-page updated investigation by Brijesh Singh of the decades-long and hitherto intractable question of refugees in Kashmir (pp. 42-53):
Kashmeer kee sautelee saantaaneN (Kashmir’s Step-children)

Tehelka Kashmir Cover

Jammoo: Refugee Capital

2 lakhs [200,000]
Refugees from West Pakistan

10 lakhs [1 million]
Refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir

2 lakhs [200,000]
Displaced by the war with Pakistan

3 lakhs [300,000]
Pundits from the Valley of Kashmir

(To my knowledge this article by Mr Singh has not appeared in the English version of Tehelka and although I am aware of an Internet translation, I am not willing to share the URL until I am satisfied it is duly authorised.)

Following the horrendous gang rape in Delhi, the Tehelka Hindi issue for 31 December 2012- 15 January 2013 was devoted to Women’s Issues, including a short article on the positive history of Women’s Movements in India by Priyanka Dubey, Hauslon kaa haasil (‘Courageous Achievements’), in which she makes the point that, in view of their involvement in the decades of struggle for Independence, they were well placed to continue the fight after Independence in 1947.

The cover of Tehelka Hindi for 28 February 2013 announces a long article, by a retired politician, Arif Mohammad Khan, on another sensitive subject. The title given there seems to be ‘Isn’t there any room for change or modernisation in Islam?’ (‘Kyaa islaam meN badlaav aur aadhuniktaa ke lie kaaee sthaan nahee hai?’) The article itself (pp. 36-41), however, has a revised title: ‘Is there any Scope for Change and Reform in Islam?’ Where sudhaaroN (reforms) and gunjaaish (scope) have replaced aadhuniktaa (modernisation) and sthaan (place / room) and the rhetorical negative has been deleted.
(For this article by Mr Khan there is an English translation available on the Tehelka website, dated 7 March.)

The latest Tehelka sting operation in December 2012-January 2013 involved taping conversations by senior Indian police officials. These contradicted official statements on tightening up on attitudes to reported rapes and the way of investigating them.

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

Posted 29 January 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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 (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


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


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


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)


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


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,


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


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)


bilyan, billion
pop, the Pope
aarkestraa, orchestra
janvaaree, January
sitaMbar, september
aktoobar, October
disaMbar, December
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

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.


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. []

Translation 40. Hindi-English-Hinglish, an Indian ménage à trois

Posted 23 January 2013 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One of the aspects which makes travel to ‘Incredible’ India different is the ease with which foreign tourists and businessmen can make themselves understood (in English) in airports, shops, hotels and (usually) taxis. There is no language angst as in many other countries. This is because most urban Indians speak English as a first language and many others as a second one – as well as a regional language (or two). Indians are very used to learning more than one language. In the case of English, it can be useful in getting them a better job, thus improving the wages or salary that they receive.

The long relationship between Indian languages and English has been a major factor in the modern history of the India and its States. Now, with English as the major world lingua franca, it is proving to be beneficial to Indias’s increasing development and prosperity. It is also a comforting advantage over India’s fellow colossus, China, which in so many other ways is ahead of India. The Chinese are making massive investments in education but it will take them a long time to reach the fluency at present enjoyed by so many (numerically) in India.


The dominant position of English in India over the past two centuries is fairly well known and is easy to document. By the 1830s, Britain was ruling over vast areas of the Indian subcontinent with relatively few British soldiers and administrators. A deliberate act by Lord (Thomas Babington) Macaulay brought about the extraordinary dominance of English over the lives of Indians and was to change the destinies of all those Indians who studied the language to work for or under the British Administration. It is also responsible for the ongoing prominence of the English language in the independent Republic of India.

In the admirably succinct Wikipedia account:
“[Lord Macauley] introduced English education in India through his famous minute of February 1835. He called an educational system that would create a class of anglicised Indians who would serve as cultural intermediaries between the British and the Indians. Macaulay succeeded in implementing ideas previously put forward by Lord William Bentinck, the governor general since 1829. Bentinck favored the replacement of Persian by English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction, and the training of English-speaking Indians as teachers. He was inspired by utilitarian ideas and called for “useful learning.” Macaulay convinced the Governor-General to adopt English as the medium of instruction in higher education, from the sixth year of schooling onwards, rather than Sanskrit or Persian then used in the institutions supported by the East India Company. By doing so, Macaulay wanted to “educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother tongue” and thus, by incorporating English, he sought to “enrich” the Indian languages so “that they could become vehicles for European scientific, historical, and literary expression”. Macaulay’s preference for the English language was based on his view of the local languages as “poor and rude” and on his belief that the body of writing available in Sanskrit and Arabic was no match for the scholarship available in English. He stated in his “Minute on Indian Education” (1835): “all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England.”
(Wikipedia, 23 January 2013)
(Note. Interested readers should see the absorbingly detailed account given by Pavan K. Varma in Becoming Indian, Chapters 2 – ‘The Imperishable Empire’ – and 3 – ‘Macaulay’s Legacy’, pp. 26-87.)

If we now fast forward to the end of the British Raj, as a result of Macaulay’s educational Minute, the position of English in the administration of India and in the running of daily urban life was so well entrenched that it was the national lingua franca, in partnership with regional languages (especially in the south), while in the north it was the partner (or perhaps big brother?) to Hindi.

1947 on-

In the Republic of India, the Hindi-English question has been present since the Independence ceremony.
1. In the Constituent Assembly on 14 August 1947,
“Few of the people in the hall could talk to each other in their native tongue; their only common tongue was the English of the colonizers, whose rule was about to end” (Collins and Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight, p. 287).
2. Jawaharlal (Pandit) Nehru’s famous eloquent Independence “Tryst’ speech was delivered in English.
3. Hindi and English were decreed to be the two main languages, with a limit of 15 years set for English.
4. Sixty five years later, Hindi and English are still the dominant official languages of India, with the advantage still favouring English (and English-speaking Indians.)

1950 The new Constitution was written in English.

“The 1950 Constitution had eventually fudged the issue: Hindi was to be the sole official language, but not for fifteen years (during which English might still be used. […] The hope was that in the fifteen-year interim tempers would cool and Hindi would win more friends …” (John Keay, India. A History, p. 528). As a result northern supporters of Hindi redoubled their efforts to coin more Sanskritised neologisms to cover modern and technical terms with the result that “the Hindi news on All India Radio became […] barely comprehensible” (p. 529). Meanwhile in the north there were protests against English and in the south, mainly in Tamil Nadu, the demonstrations were far more violently against Hindi, with many deaths and several self-immolations (Keay, 529).

From one of his interviews, Patrick French offers this extra detail, gleaned from a Tamilian professor:
“those protests were so intense, with people immolating themselves against the perceived northern domination, that the plan was abandoned and English continued as a parallel language. The powerful Dravidian political parties of the South came out of this movement.” (India, pp. 371-2).

Maria Misra offers another perennially important factor in the debate:
“Critics argued that the reform would grant an unfair advantage in the intense competition for government jobs to the 35% of the nation for whom Hindi was their first language. In 1959, Nehru began to retreat, promising that Hindi would not be imposed and that English would stay as an ‘associate’ language”.
(Maria Misra, Vishnu’s Crowded Temple, p. 289).

Finally, in 1967, a bill was passed which, “while confirming the status of Hindi as India’s official language, gave the non-Hindi states a veto over the phasing out of English, thus effectively guaranteeing its place as “an associate official language” indefinitely (Keay, 529). States were allowed to conduct official business in their preferred regional language (Tamil, Telugu, etc.)

As a result of such language complications, India’s national parliament has some organisational similarities with the European Union; provision for interpreting services is quite generous. In the mid-1990s, the Indian Prime Minister Deve Gowda, who apparently did not speak Hindi or English well, must have been especially grateful for this service.

Among the provisions are the following, taken from

Constitutional Provision and use of different languages in Lok Sabha

“Under article 120 of the Constitution, the business of both the Houses of Parliament is transacted in Hindi or English. In order to enable the Members to communicate directly across the language barrier, a two-channel system of simultaneous interpretation from Hindi to English and vice-versa was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 7 September, 1964. Subsequently, to facilitate Members who could not express themselves adequately in Hindi or English, it was decided to extend the facility of simultaneous interpretation in some of the languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. In November 1969, this facility was extended to some more languages of the Eighth Schedule. At present, the facility of simultaneous interpretation is available in the following languages namely: Assamese, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Maithili, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Efforts are being made to provide simultaneous interpretation facility in the remaining languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Direction by Speaker regarding use of languages other than Hindi/English
A member who wishes to speak in a language other than Hindi or English is required [under Direction 115 B(1)* by the Speaker] to give at least half-an-hour notice to the officer at the Table to enable the Interpreter concerned to take his seat in the Interpreters’ booth before the member speaks.

Interpretation of the Proceedings of Parliamentary Committees etc.
Arrangement for simultaneous interpretation exists in all the Committee rooms in Parliament House, Parliament House Annexe and Parliament Library Building where meetings of Parliamentary Committees, Departmentally Related Standing Committees, Consultative Committees attached with various ministries etc. are held.”

Many generations of Indian children from the upper and middle classes have had an ‘English Medium’ education, where the tuition takes place in English. For many of these children, Hindi (or another regional language like Tamil or Kannada) is a second language. Also, Higher education and much political, professional and technical training and activity are mainly conducted in English.

Mark Tully, the much-admired India-watcher and “interpreter”, with a lifetime’s collection of valuable observations on Indian life and history, offers this comment on the mixed benefits of English in one of his earlier books on India (No Full Stops in India, 1991):
“The upper echelons of Indian society regard English as one of the greatest gifts of the British. They have made it the language of the exclusive club they belong to, and parents who see half a chance of getting their children admitted to the club will make any sacrifice to provide an English-medium education for them. The élite are not concerned that English has impoverished Indian languages and stood in the way of the growth of an indigenous national language. They insist that English must be preserved as the common language of multilingual India, even though less than 3 per cent of the population have even a basic understanding of it” (pp. 7-8).

In more recent times, some members of the Other Backward Classes have begun to take advantage of an English education. Indeed, Patrick French presents this vignette about a Dalit writer and activist, Chandra Bhan Prasad, who set up a primary school in 2010 and also built a temple dedicated to a new deity, ‘Dalit Goddess English’. His supposition was that Dalits, being socially and educationally excluded, should learn English so as to advance” (India, A Portrait, p. 278).

Since the spread of English throughout India, words from English have been adopted by speakers of Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages. These borrowed words and phrases are called loanwords or loan translations (calques), In the case of Hindi, there have been many such loanwords and calques, adapted more or less to the phonetics of Hindi, and referring to daily life and to technical terms. This borrowing process goes on all the time between all languages in contact. Think of the massive influx of French or Norman words into English after 1066, or the number of Arabic words in modern Spanish which date back to the centuries-long Muslim rule.

Whereas everyday Hindi contains a very very large number of English loan words, adapted to the phonetics of Hindi, and referring to daily life and to technical terms, their rapid, inexorable, increase, almost on a daily basis, is the cause for the recent cries of alarm from some observers (for example, Professor Rupert Snell, quoted below). Many of these loanwords, and a large number of English acronyms, also based on English phonetics (bee.jay.pee, see.bee.aaee, for example), are understood by Indians in many cities.

Examples of simple loans:

bas, bus; tren, train; kort, court; steshan, station; saspains, suspense; iNjekshan, injection; graauNd, ground; saaikal, cycle; gaiNgrep, gang rape; haaidrojan, hydrogen; saintimetar, centimetre; kaarburetar, carburettor; aaiskreem, ice cream;
ekyoopankchar, acupuncture; spaainal kord, spinal cord. (For many more examples, see the Reference list, under Steel.)


aaee.aaee.tee., IIT (Indian Institute of Technology)
aaee.e.ess, IAS (Indian Administrative Service)
aar.bee.aaee., RBI (Reserve Bank of India)
aar.tee.aaee., RTI (Right to Information), BJP (Bharaateeya Janata Party – or, in Hindi phonetics)
dee.aaee.jee., DIG (Deputy Inspector General)
ef.dee.aaee., FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)
em.e., MA.(Master of Arts)
en.dee.tee.vee. (Indeeyaa), NDTV (India) – New Delhi TV
en.aar.aaee., NRI (Non-Resident Indian), NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme)
o.bee.see., OBC (Other Backward Classes)
pee.el.e., PLA (People’s Liberation Army – China)
pee o ke , PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir)
see.aaee.aaee., CII (Confederation of Indian Industry)
see.bee.aaee., CBI (Criminal Bureau of Investigation_
tee.dee.pee., TDP (Telugu Desham Party – Andra Pradesh)
tee.o.aaee., TOI (Times of India)
tee.tee., TT (train ticket inspector)
too.jee., 2G (The ongoing 2G ‘Spectrum’ scandal)

As well as Hindi, we now have ‘Hinglish’, one of a global variety of hybrid combinations of English with a dominant local language., used by bilingual, or partially bilingual speakers. But as we shall see, Hinglish in the form it has evolved over the last 15-20 years is a very complex linguistic phenomenon, on which many scholars are working. The major source of recent discussions on the Hinglish-Hindi-English trio is the 2008 Conference Proceeding, Chutnefying English, edited by Rita Kothari and Rupsert Snell. (Also worth searching for on the Web are Hinglish, Code-switching and Code-mixing.)

When first heard (on a Bollywood film, for example), Hinglish appears to contain far more complex elements of code-switching than, say, the more parochial ‘Spanglish’ of California, Florida, or Australia . (See under Steel in the Reference list.)
It is also probably more complex than ‘Chinglish’, but the special brand of Chinglish of Hong Kong, which is based on a very long and close association between Chinese and English may be closer. (See Wikipedia under Chinglish or ‘Code-switching in Hong Kong’.)

Hinglish can be freely observed in many Bollywood movies and on the streets of Indian cities. It is especially favoured by younger generations of Indians and goes far beyond loan translations. Here are some simple examples (taken from the Gurcharan Das article quoted later):

“Main aaj busy hoon. Kal bill doonga definitely. [I’m busy today. I’ll do the bill tomorrow, defintely.]
“ Voh mujhe avoid kartee hai!” [You’re avoiding me!]
“Careful, yaar. Voh dangerous hai!” [Careful, mate. You’re dangerous.]

Anand Giridharadas, a young American visitor, born of NRI parents, describes his first encounters with (upper class) Indian Hinglish:
It consists of
“stirring Hindi words into English sentences, conjugating Hindi verbs with English suffixes, and appropriating the pidgin English of the less-educated classes. He offers these examples:
“He was just line maro-ing.” [‘chatting up’ the girls]
“Chal, time pass karte hain.”
“Shall we pacca meet at seven?”
“Come jaldi se. Nahin to, the booze will finish.” [early; Otherwise …]
(From India Calling. An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking, 2011.)

Here is another one from an Internet comment:
“Main baahar nikalnee vaalee thee, tab ren stated pooring. Main bheeg gayee and I went clothes chainj karne ke liye.” (“indi45”. One of the comments on Anjoo Mohan’s article in The Guardian on 27 January 2010: ‘English or Hinglish – does it matter what Indian students are learning?’)

(For other examples see Chutnefying English, Tomas Borowiak, and L. Thillai Salvi, in the Reference list.)

After seeing these brief samples, it is not difficult to understand that Indians are currently divided over the ‘Hinglish question’, especially for its implications for the future of Hindi (rather than for that of Indian English, which continues to thrive). The following paragraphs give an idea of the principal points of view.

In the 2008 conference, Hinglish was strongly supported as a natural phenomenon among bilinguals. Of special interest are the papers given by Professor Harish Trivedi and the renowned linguist, Tej. K. Bhatia.

Another keen supporter of Hinglish is Gurcharan Das, the energetic ex-businessman, and author of the bestseller India Unbound. Das began his article, ‘Inglish as She’s Spoke’ (Outlook India (2 May 2005) with customary vigour:

“In a world growing smaller and in an India growing bigger, English is the currency of the future. Even insecure vernacular chauvinists can’t deny us our due.” He went on to speak glowingly of ‘Inglish’ (i.e. Hinglish) as being “increasingly pan-India’s street language.” He portrays Hinglish as a possible future national “aspirational” language for all Indians: “perhaps we may have found a language common to the masses and classes acceptable to the South and North.”

During the 2008 ‘Chutnefying English’ conference, Das moderated and participated in a controversial Panel Discussion, ‘Is Hinglish the language of India’s Future?’ The following contribution by Das expands on the point already made above:
“The spread of Hinglish is a democratizing process. It is a way for the rich and the poor to communicate in the same language for the first time. I wonder why and how Hinglish came up in the 1990s? Is it the reforms that brought it about? Is it a part of the mental liberation of the young in the 1990s?”

A celebration of both Hindi and Hinglish is offered by the prominent diplomat and writer, Pavan K. Varma, whose recent three sociological studies on contemporary India and Indians are de rigueur for students of India, as well as Indians (and NRIs), who have already converted them into bestsellers.

Varma, who concentrates on observations and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary Indian society, suggests that the prominence and domination of English in India stunted Hindi’s growth in the past:

“We have a linguistic pool so large and diverse that despite attempts to colonize the language, it survived. However, over the past three or four decades, this rich linguistic heritage has been disproportionately overshadowed by a pan-Indian preponderance of English.” (Times of India (30 January 2012).

However, things have now changed:
“An assertive popular culture is beginning to acquire critical mass in India. The growing popularity of Hindi is a case in point. The attempt to introduce it by fiat failed; but the growing number of people who speak and read Hindi today would surprise its opponents” (Being Indian, p. 144).
“The popularity of Hindi has nothing to do with a new-found affection for the national language nor is it a deliberate dilution of linguistic chauvinisms. It has happened gradually, on its own and in response to market forces […].” “Many Indians are not fluent in Hindi, but a great many more understand something of it now. Hindi films are popular in Tamil Nadu.”

“A new lingo dubbed Hinglish, an irreverent masala of English and Hindi words, has sprouted spontaneously in the cities. The young speak it; with the success of Pepsi’s slogan – Yeh dil maange more (This heart wants more) – the advertising industry has also come to love it; successful films have adopted it; television resounds to it, even conservative English dailies have not been able to resist its appeal. Hinglish, like Indipop, thumbs its nose at the purists. It represents a confident new comfort zone, in which people arte more concerned with communication than with ideological loyalties” (p. 145).
(See also Varma, Becoming Indian. The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity, Chapter 3, ‘Macauley’s Legacy’, pp. 64-87, for a lengthier treatment of the Hindi versus English story.)

In the same conference Proceedings, the prominent Hindi lexicologist, teacher, and scholar, Professor Rupert Snell expresses deep concern for the present and future of Hindi in ‘Hindi: Its threatened ecology and natural genius’.
“… I see a far more insidious process at work: thanks to the influence of English on Hindi, that would-be national language is year by year sacrificing its own heritage of articulacy, and becoming a stranger in its own land.” He also sees the “elegance of Hindi being eroded by making its own innate lexicon seem exotic, esoteric and eccentric even within its own geographic territory” (p. 23).

His sad conclusion is:
“We are encouraged within the pages of this book and elsewhere, to celebrate the new, zippy Hinglish as a fun thing that echoes the buzz of youth culture and all that. But the point I want to make is a more sombre one: the unattractiveness, for whatever reason, of the over-formal register of Hindi promoted in official circles has turned a long-term trickle of English words into a monsoon flood; the result is a dilution of the genius of Hindi, and irreversible damage to its ecological balance. Hindi aspires to be a national language but is in danger of becoming little more than a notional one as people turn to English or Hinglish in droves” (p. 36).
(Kothari, Rita and Snell, Rupert, eds. Chutnefying English. The Phenomenon of Hinglish, pp. 22-36).
(In 1990, Snell had published a ground-breaking study, ‘The Hidden Hand’, in which
he foreshadowed his present position. See Reference list.)

English is still the lingua franca of India and its de facto national language.

Although Hindi is officially supported and promoted by the Department of Official Language (DOL), financed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, an article by Rashmi Sadana in April 2012 suggested that progress by DOL is impeded by bureaucracy.

Hindi will continue to absorb foreign words and Hinglish will continue to grow and to be discussed and studied.


From the point of view of translation needs as well as for language teaching and learning, especially teaching or learning Hindi as a second language, more effort needs to be made to record the most common English loanwords (and phrases) which have been adopted into the Hindi language so that they can be listed in monolingual and bilingual Hindi (-English/ German,Chinese, etc,) dictionaries, because English/German./Chinese students need to know them!

Over the past two years of listening to and reading the Indian media and Internet sources, I have collected roughly 2000 English loanwords in Hindi, most of which are much more necessary to foreign learners than the linguistic gymnastics involved in ‘performing’ in Hinglish, which is more suited to bilinguals. Given the size of the loanword phenomenon, my glossary should be taken as a (large) sample only.

The collection will be available shortly, to be sent by email, as a pdf document, to those students who wish to consult it for their personal use. (@


Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique, Freedom at Midnight.
Das, Gurcharan:
India Unbound. The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age, New York, Anchor Books, 2002.
‘Inglish as She’s Spoke’, Outlook India, 2 May 2005.
Giridharadas, Anand, India Calling. An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking, USA, Times Books, 2011.)
Keay, John, India. A History. Revised and enlarged edition, NY Grove Press, 2010.

Kothari, Rita. Translating India. The Cultural Politics of English. New Delhi: Foundation Books (Cambridge University Press India), Rev. ed. 2011.
(An excellent study of the publishing of translations of Indian works in India and the recent burgeoning and increased academic interest in Translation Indian Universities. It includes a survey of the perennial English and Hindi questions in Chapter 3, ‘The Two Worlds Theory’, pp. 26-35.)

Kothari, Rita and Snell, Rupert, eds. Chutnefying English. The Phenomenon of Hinglish, New Delhi, Penguin, 2011.
(The results of reporting the 2009 conference.
The collection of papers and discussions offers a plethora of views on Hinglish, its nature and recent impact. It also draws attention to the influence of the media, including Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV, etc. This, along with the Internet and text messaging, all points to major urban usage of hybridised Hinglish by young people, who are in a majority in India.

The sociolinguistic paper by Professor G.J.V Prasad (‘Tamil, Hindi, English: The New Ménage à Trois’, pp. 141-160) is full of valuable insights into the complex state of multiple language use in contemporary India, with special reference to the author’s personal multilingual experiences and the nature of Indian Englishes, which vary according to linguistic areas, as illustrated with reference to Indian English literature.

In response to his conference brief, and as a Tamilian, Prasad’s major focus here is, correctly, on the ‘anglicization of Tamil’. The anglicisation of the Hindi language and its potential consequences may turn out to have been the elephant in the room at that gathering.)

Misra, Maria, Vishnu’s Crowded Temple, p. 289. London, Penguin, 2008.
Sadana, Rashmi, ‘How we live multilingually and what this says about our language and literature’,
Snell, Rupert, ‘The Hidden Hand: English Lexis, Syntax and Idiom as Determinants of Modern Hindi Usage’, South Asia Research, 1990, 10, 53-68.
(An important study, worth reprinting, in which Snell presents a cornucopia of detailed evidence on the massive influence of English on Hindi, leading to his Trojan horse analogy. The rapid growth of Hinglish over the last 15-20 years was to reinforce his thesis.)
Steel, Brian:
‘El Espanglish de Australia’,
‘Hindi Vocabulary for Lucky English-speaking Learners,
Tully, (Sir) Mark:
No Full Stops in India, London, Penguin, 1991.
India. The Road Ahead, London, Random House, 2011.
(esp. pp. 176-199: ‘The English Raj’)
Varma, Pavan K.:
The Great Indian Middle Class, Revised ed., New Delhi, Penguin, 2007 [1998]
Being Indian, London, Arrow Books, 2006 [2004].
Becoming Indian. The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity, New Delhi, Allen Lane, 2010
(Chapters 2 – ‘The Imperishable Empire’ – and 3 – ‘Macaulay’s Legacy’, pp. 26-87.)

Note: For more examples of information on loans, Hinglish, code-switching and code-mixing, see:
Baldauf, Scott, ‘A Hindi-English Jumble, spoken by 350 million’, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 November 2004.
Borowiak, Tomasz, ‘Mixed Conjunct Verbs And Other Manifestations of Hindi Englishization’,

Click to access Borowiak_INVELING15.pdf

Selvi, L. Thillai, ‘Code-Mixing in Hindi: A Study’,

Click to access hindi%20oct-dec-11.pdf

Wolf Messing – a Lesson for Wikipediacrats

Posted 31 December 2012 by Brian Steel
Categories: Wikipedia

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Like most others, I make frequent use of English Wikipedia for quick reliable information. I am grateful for that and have chipped in my $10 to prevent the organisation from downsizing. Like many other websurfers, however, I also feel very disappointed (or unhappy) with some of my wikisearches.

The flaws or inadequacies of Wikipedia’s small but significant collection of unreliable articles can usually be traced back to one or both of the following causes: the counterproductive inflexibility of Wikipedia’s definition of and (luddite) blanket ban on “research”, and in the case of controversial topics, the ingenious and exhausting use of Wikipedia’s arcane laws by “interested parties” to suppress or remove unpalatable facts from the controversial page.  (A rarer third cause is the ignorance of contributors, while an undeclared contributing factor is Wikipedia’s casual attitude to printed sources, especially books and bibliographies.)

The current English Wikipedia page for Wolf Messing is a depressing example of the first and third causes listed above, as I shall endeavour to prove.


In the West, since at least 1970, we have been informed about Messing’s life and exploits by BOOKS like Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Shroeder’s sensational 1970 bestseller dealing with hitherto secret Soviet research, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain and in 1989 an English translation of Tatiana Lungin’s 1982 biography, as well as in articles and Encyclopedias like the Harper Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience (1991). (See Reference List.) From 1980 on, the controversial “omniscient” guru, Sathya Sai Baba brought Wolf Messing (d.1974) to the attention of his many devotees and to wider New Age circles by making three public reminiscences about their three alleged meetings. For non-devotees, the strange reminiscences have zero credibility.

Such works have told us over and over again, often citing the same sensational sources, that Wolf Messing (1899-1974) was a phenomenally successful Polish-born Russian stage performer of “mentalism” and hypnotism, accredited with quite extraordinary feats, involving Freud, Einstein, Gandhi, and Hitler, as well as Stalin and Beria, and other less well known people).


Wolf Messing’s very impressive and lucrative stage performances over several decades are similar to the sort of theatrical activities that Derren Brown is currently demonstrating and “explaining” to massive TV audiences and full theatres. Derren professes no supernatural powers, just special skills. In fairness to Messing, it has to be said that he is also on record as saying in 1961 in an interview with P. Oreshkin that he was not a ‘mind-reader’ but a ‘muscle reader’ (a play on words in the original Russian: mysl vs. muskl). However, it must also be borne in mind that charismatic Messing’s special success onstage was founded on a series of well-publicised sensational claims, which suggest to his fans that he must have supernatural gifts. From that factor above all, Messing derives his current superstar fame as one of the most important psychics of all time.


Thirty two years after the publication of Ostrander and Shroeder’s bestseller, on 9 March 2002, the recently minted English Wikipedia article on Messing stood as follows:

“Wolf Messing (b. 1899) is one of the most talented mind readers of the world. Born to a Jewish family, Messing fled from Germany to Russia before World War II. He was sentenced to death by Hitler after declaring his prophecy about Germany’s defeat during attempted invasion of Russia. After world war, he worked for long years as a stage artist and he is suggested to be one of Stalin’s advisors.”

“Wolf messing also led to the three little pigs having to be temporarily re-housed due to the sudden and sequential loss of their self-built, ecologically-sound, detached houses.”

A mere stub of a stub, plus that irrelevant and cheeky addendum, which was promptly, and correctly, removed. Ten years later, on 24 December 2012, the English Wikipedia Messing article has failed to keep up with available information on the subject in print and on the Internet. It is still not much more than a stub (albeit a page long). The current stub includes two weak sources for its brief claims of some of Messing’s expertise, and a bare reference to a (vital) scholarly article in Dutch, which no Wikipedia contributor appears to have investigated in the past 8 years.

In 2004, that same Dutch scholar, Alexandra Nagel, completed an M.A. thesis about Wolf Messing and in 2005. This was published in a Dutch Journal. Here is the reference, as printed, at the end of the English Wikipedia article, and elsewhere.

Alexandra Nagel: Een mysterieuze ontmoeting…: Sai Baba en mentalist Wolf Messing / A mysterious meeting…: Sai Baba and mentalist Wolf Messing. In: Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie/Journal for Parapsychology 368, Bd. 72 Nr. 4, Dez. 2005, S. 14-17.

However, Nagel also prepared a 25-page English version of her thesis and published it on on 10 November 2004. It should still be there. It has also been on the Internet, more or less ignored, for the past 7 years at this rather secluded URL.

Those interested in investigating Messing (including wikipedians and Wikipedia readers) who have not had access to a translation of Nagel’s Dutch thesis or to this English version will have missed a fascinating mine of information and questions for further investigation presented in this ground-breaking academic study of Messing’s life and work.

Basic contents of Nagel’s thesis:

A detailed description of the life and work of Wolf Messing, gleaned from very wide reading, beginning with the 1970 chapter by Ostrander and Shroeder, and the biography by Messing’s friend and confidante Tatiana Lungin, and digging even deeper to examine the important German study by Topsy Küppers and references to Soviet studies by Varlen Strongin, Ludmila Svinka-Zielinski and a few others. (Nagel acknowledges the help of Russian researcher Serguei Badaev with some of these texts.)

A critical examination of this valuable material leads Nagel to the conclusion that it reveals “myth-making” on a large scale (i.e. the constant repetition of Messing’s own stories as told by Ostrander et al). Nagel emphasises the almost total lack of corroborating evidence of Messing’s most famous (alleged) exploits, and she adds a list of other unresolved loose ends (mainly due to the lack of translations of Russian material).

Nagel’s hypothetical conclusion is that not all the famous Messing episodes are true:

“Aspects of Messing’s life are in need of further research”

“One may tentatively deduce that Messing’s narrative must for a large part be an invented life history. Probably unaware and unintended, Ostrander & Schroeder have played a role in spreading – probably false – stories. They should have cross referenced their material more thoroughly. For instance, they could have looked into the 200,000 mark put on Messing’s head in 1937 by Hitler, or the protest the German Embassy in the Soviet Union lodged when Messing in 1940 predicted the end of the German hegemony, or the ‘psychic bank robbery’ Stalin assigned him to perform. Lungin and Küppers (I cannot judge for Strongin) should have done so as well. The fact of the matter is, they did not, so one wonders whether this was due to laziness, accident or was purposive falsification.”

This thesis is worthy of further public attention – as the following new information, mainly from Russia, will underline.

Since 2005, the Messing success story (myth?) has featured in many articles and a few books and, since a sumptuous 16-part Russian TV series on his life in 2009, he is now worshipped even more widely, as a cult figure, thanks to a large number of You Tube videos (mostly without subtitles), many of 45 minute duration. His fame has reached a peak. He has his own fan club in Russia. And perhaps on Facebook?

Meanwhile, important new counter-evidence has been presented by a new and highly reputable source which supports in great detail Alexandra Nagel’s hypotheses about a) myth-making (i.e. that Messing invented many of the major incidents, precisely those that set him apart from other stage performers) and b) the authorship of his 1965 “autobiography”.

The major new source of information is Nikolai Nikolaevich Kitaev (N. N. Kitaev – Н.Н. Китаев), a distinguished Russian jurist and legal researcher, with a specialty in hypnosis. (One of his written works is titled ‘Hypnosis and Crime’.) Kitaev has been researching Messing’s life and work for 30 years (along with his many other projects) and, because of his professional rank and prestige, and especially because of the liberating effects of the break-up of the USSR, he has had free access to an impressive number of National and regional archives in Russia, Belarus and Poland and some access to German archives. From this huge trawl, Kitaev has produced an important booklet of about 100 pages, first published in 2006:

“Криминалистический экстрасенс. Вольф Мессинг. Правда и вымысел”

Forensic psychic: Wolf Messing. Truth and Fantasy.

(Links to a download of the 2010 version of the Russian book of the same name is included in the Reference list at the end of this article.)

Kitaev sets out evidence to refute the most spectacular episodes in Messing’s career, those which have given him his wide fame, far beyond that accorded to other stage hypnotists and mentalists. Forensically, he offers biographical evidence to suggest why the meeting with Freud and Einstein could not have taken place. The Gandhi meeting claim, always the weakest link in the chain, is easily dismissed and Kitaev also demonstrates at length that there is no archival evidence for Messing’s major claims of a relationship with Stalin.

Kitaev concentrates on the available biographical evidence about Messing and demonstrates (as Alexandra Nagel had suggested) that the only evidence we have of Messing’s major claims is in Messing’s own writings (and those of his close associate, Lungin). Other commentators (as we have seen above with Ostrander and Shroeder) have been content merely to repeat or paraphrase these same words over and over again. There are no eye-witnesses, no corroborating details supplied by other persons.

Another of Kitaev’s documented claims is that the somewhat shadowy 1965 memoirs in Nauka i Religiya (Science and Religion), published in a journal (with two different titles: About Myself and I am a Telepath) were not even written by Messing but by a very prominent Russian journalist and nonfiction writer, Mikhail Vasilievich Khvastunov (pseudonym, M. Vasiliev). Kitaev further suggests that it was Khvastunov who “beefed up” the Messing story for maximum effect, and sales. A ghost writer, in fact.  (Others, including Nagel, have suggested, that the Polish-born Messing would have needed help to express himself vividly in Russian.) And indeed, in the Russian Wikipedia page for Khvastunov, long since dead, the following appear in a list of his written works, both presumably posthumous re-editions of the 1965 work or works.

Вольф Мессинг «Я — телепат», литературная запись М.Васильева, СП «Интеркиноцентр» Рекламно-издательское агентство «Юго-запад», 1990.

Wolf Messing, I am a telepath, literary version, M. Vasiliev.  [M.Vasiliev, was Khvastunov’s pseudonym.]

«Феномен Д и другие». «Вольф Мессинг. О самом себе». Литературная запись М.Васильева. Москва, Издательство политической литературы, 1991.

Phenomen D and Other Matters. Wolf Messing. About Myself, literary version M. Vasiliev.

A substantial half-page reference to N. N. Kitaev’s lengthy investigation is included in the 6-page Russian Wikipedia entry on ‘Volf Messing’. The paragraphs, which refer to Messing’s writings and Khvastunov’s alleged part in them and to Kitaev’s broader work on Messing, are titled ‘Source of legends’ and ‘Participation in exposing crime’. Several very useful bibliographical references are also given.

Well done, Russian Wikipedia! 



Comment on a forum, by “paddylandau”:

“Derren Brown successfully repeated Wolf Messing’s trick with paper for money. Of course, as Brown himself makes clear, what he did was all smoke and mirrors (well, misdirection and trickery), and nothing whatsoever to do with psi powers, hypnosis or NLP.”


Russian Wikipedia: ‘Volf Messing’. (This includes a link to Kitaev’s book and many other interesting articles.)


Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience, ed. Rosemary Ellen Guiley, HarperSanFrancisco, 1991, p 367-8.

Kitaev, N. N.

(There is an English reference to the Kitaev revelations (July 2009) here.

Китаев Н.Н. “Криминалистический экстрасенс” Вольф Мессинг. Правда и вымысел

Forensic psychic: Wolf Messing. Truth and Fantasy

A copy of the 2010 edition of his book in Russian is available here:

The 2006 version from can be seen here.

A detailed list of Kitaev’s law writings, including Gipnoz i prestuplenie (Hypnosis and Crime), is available here.

Lungin Tatiana, Volf Messing. Chelovek. Zagadka, (W.M., The Man. The Enigma), 1982. (It is available online here.

Lungin, Tatiana, Wolf Messing: The True Story of Russia’s Greatest Psychic (edited by D. Scott Rogo and translated from the Russian by Cynthia Rosenberger and John Glad), New York: Paragon House, 1989. (Contains material from the 1965 publication and more information from W. M.)

Ostrander, Sheila and Schroeder, Lynn, PSI. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, London, Abacus, 1973 (1970). (See especially ‘Wolf Messing, the Psychic that Joseph Stalin Tested, pp. 58-73.) (This was soon followed by an equally successful book by the same authors, which contains the same chapter and title (pp. 38-52):

Ostrander, Sheila and Schroeder, Lynn, Psychic Discoveries. The Iron Curtain Lifted, London: Souvenir Press, 1997 (1970) [Introduced by Uri Geller]



Translation 39. A Short Reference List for Hindi learners & Notes on the suffix vaalaa / wallah

Posted 4 November 2012 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 A copy of this Reference List for English-speaking learners of Hindi has recently been published at the end of  Item 1 of Hindi Learning Hints on my language website. This extensive analysis is based on my learning curve in relation to the important Hindi suffix vaalaa (aka vala or wallah).

In an item referred to in the Reference List below (, Sharell Cook introduces vaalaa to would-be travellers to India with this useful thumbnail sketch:

“This word is notorious for its different meanings and spellings. Most visitors to India know it in the context as it refers to a seller or vendor of something. For example, a taxi-wala is a taxi driver. A vegetable-wala is a vegetable seller. However, wala can be combined with the name of a town or city to indicate someone who comes from there. For example, Mumbai-wala or Delhi-wala. Wala can also be used to specify a certain thing. For example, chota-wala means small one, lal-wala means red one, kal-wala means yesterday’s one. Finally it can be used to indicate something as about to happen in the immediate future. Ane-vala means about to come or about to arrive. Jane-wala means about to go or about to leave.” (‘5 Common but often confusing Hindi words’. See in the List below.)


Hindi vaalaa is, in fact, a much more complex and a very frequently met phenomenon. Since bilingual dictionaries tend not to help with this basically morphological matter, grammars and other descriptions need to be consulted for an idea of the wide scope of the usage, especially for improved comprehension and translation purposes. For those interested, my vaalaa comprehension and translation analysis is available here.


A Short Reference List for English-speaking Learners of Hindi


Agnihotri, Rama Kant. Hindi. An Essential Grammar, Routledge, London and New York, 2006.
McGregor, R. S. Outline of Hindi Grammar, 3rd edition, New Delhi, 1995.   
Shapiro, Michael C. A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1989.
Snell, Rupert, Teach Yourself Beginner’s Hindi. London, Hodder Headline and USA, McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Dictionaries and other Lexical Studies

Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, ed. Sangeeta S. Parikh, New Delhi, Allied, 2002. (with Romanised transliterations) 
Bahri, Hardev, Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary, 2 vols, New Delhi, Rajpal, 1999. (with Romanised transliterations) (HB)

Bulcke, Father Camille, Hindee-AaNgrezee Kosh, Catholic Press, Ranchi, 2008. [This appears to be a posthumous publication since the author died in 1982. His English-Hindi Dictionary, 1968, was highly acclaimed and is still in print. See Wikipedia for his distinguished career.]

Sinha, R. Mahesh K.  See
The site of a fabulous cornucopia of bilingual dictionaries in MANY languages. The Hindi-English dictionary has a very impressive number of vaalaa offerings. Far more than I have seen anywhere else, online or in print.  Bookmark it! Another very useful online lexical tool, with a lively forum, listed below.

For other useful references see librarian Salman Haider’s website pages, notably this one.

Kumar, Arvind, The Penguin English-Hindi/Hindi-English Thesaurus and Dictionary.
For intermediate and advanced study of Hindi, this essential reference work is available for purchase from Arvind Lexicon:
Also available there is The Arvind Lexicon Online Version (for an $18 annual subscription), and a smaller free version for visitors.

Hindi Corpus
The Center for Indian Language Technology (CFILT) Hindi Corpus
(Although not a very large corpus, and with an apparent preponderance of scientific texts, this is a treasure trove for any language researcher.)

Online Transliteration and Translation
(Indispensable aids for the wary contemporary user.)

Transliteration from English into Hindi:

Transliteration from Devanagari into Romanised Hindi:
Google Translate (to, from, and between many languages):
Microsoft BING Translator (to, from, and between many languages):

Other useful websites for learners and students of Hindi

Also from CFILT: Indo-Wordnet. “A Wordnet of Indian Languages”:

A forum for questions on Hindi and English translation:  [another forum]

Learning_the_Language_in_India.htm/, with its helpful course recommendations, and language hints by Sharell Cook.

Professor Frances Pritchett of Columbia University has a labyrinthine and very stylish website on Urdu language and literature. For Hindi students there are many insights in his long series on the work of C. M. Naim.


Note: The introduction to this series of Hindi shortcuts is available here, or here.





Translation 38. Hindi Learning Shortcuts. Introduction to a New Series

Posted 26 October 2012 by Brian Steel
Categories: 1

Tags: , ,

Preliminary Note: This is the full Introduction to the series as it appears on my language website India page.

All subsequent articles in this series for English-speaking learners of Hindi will be briefly announced on this blog with a link to the full versions available only on that language website page.

Introduction to a series of Hindi Learning Hints

After spending most of my life learning, studying. using, teaching or writing about European languages, and after several visits to India, I decided four years ago that it was time to try to learn Hindi. My aim was not to be able to order a succulent curry or even to talk to Hindi-speaking Indians (who know infinitely more English than I will ever know Hindi) but to be able to follow what the Indian media and Indian citizens talk and write about. So the main criterion in selecting materials for this series was (and is) the achievement of greater comprehension of that language.

Four years older and wiser, I remain engaged in a time- and energy-sapping struggle with this fascinating but quite difficult language. Some of my previous language-learning strategies have proved very useful in keeping me on a slow learning curve but the real foreignness of Hindi vocabulary, morphology and grammar has presented a formidable linguistic Himalayan range to conquer. With Hindi there are none of the usual convenient and comforting ‘toeholds’ or mnemonics for “us”: all those familiar COGNATE European (latinate, and even germanic) words, prefixes and suffixes which are quickly recognisable to the English learner in a flow of Romance writing and speech (or even, to a much lesser extent, in German and Dutch).

One slight but interesting advantage has been the vast – and constantly growing – number of English loanwords used in educated and media Hindi. That will be the subject of a later Hindi Hints chapter. Another early chapter will deal with Hindi acronyms (with both local and international references) which, mainly because of a historical accident, are phonetically based on English. Hooray!

The planned series of hints and shortcuts for greater or speedier comprehension of Hindi by Anglo and other foreign learners has (at least) three motives:
1. To share some of my very hard-earned knowledge with other Anglo learners.
2. To encourage Hindi speakers and fellow Anglo learners of Hindi to point out my misunderstandings and to correct my errors.
3. To force myself to study and observe Hindi more carefully.

The Reference lists posted in each article will also point to those books or websites that I have found useful in learning Hindi, in particular in relation to transliteration of the difficult (but nowhere near the difficulty of Chinese script) Hindi Devanagari script, for quicker (romanised) deciphering.

I wish to express my special gratitude to my patient tutor, Indramohan Singh, who for the past three years has also acted as my translator, transliterator, interpreter and scientific advisor and has also supplemented my bilingual (romanised) dictionaries on the many occasions when they failed to enlighten me (or, perhaps, when I failed to locate the information in the exhausting labyrinth of the anti-firangi Devanagari alphabetical order). To give credit where credit is due, these life-saving lexicographical works were:
Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, Father Camille Bulcke’s posthumous Hindi-English Dictionary and, much more recently, the late Dr Hardev Bahri’s first-class 2-volume Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary) and, at the eleventh hour, Arvind Kumar’s HEROIC opus and life’s work, the Hindi AND English Thesaurus.

Nevertheless, the errors in this series of articles are entirely of my own making and I look forward to benefitting from readers’ corrections (and, perhaps, additions), which would be most welcome by me – and excellent karma for such benefactors.

Notes for the Series

1. My simplified Hindi transliteration system should not be too difficult to understand. One of its advantages is that it stands a reasonable chance of being recognised by transliteration systems like those of Google (for conversion into Devanagari script, where necessary). (Thank God for transliteration as a partial antidote to the Devanagari script, however artistic the latter may be!)

2. In most articles, an English alphabetical order for Hindi words (a further utilitarian desecration!) is deliberately used since it allows Anglos to make quick searches for words and also allows the speedy extraction of useful materials using the “Sort” and “Find” features of Microsoft WORD and other word processors. Without this subterfuge, I would not have been able to accumulate (and benefit from) my private 14,000 word romanised Hindi Glossary! Although totally artificial, this unorthodox Hindi word order thus speeds up reference work enormously for foreign learners.

Translation 37. Arvind and Kusum Kumar’s magnum opus: the Bilingual Hindi and English Thesaurus

Posted 22 September 2012 by Brian Steel
Categories: Hindi Language

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Although a visit to the Arvind Lexicon website will instantly reward students, dictionary enthusiasts and lexicographers with the fascinating and inspiring story of the lifelong achievement of Arvind and Kusum Kumar (with the later assistance of their son, Sumeet, and daughter, Meeta Lall), it is my great pleasure to share the thrill of my very recent discovery of this extraordinary product of determined devotion and scholarship. The Kumar’s bilingual Hindi and English Thesaurus and Dictionary (and its recent online version) is the fruit of 39 years of patient pioneering work.

Arvind discovers Peter Roget’s Thesaurus and hopes to see a Hindi version.
1973 (December)
Since there is still no Hindi version, Arvind tells his wife, Kusum, that he must make one. Together they begin the labour.
23 years later, the Samantar Kosh (Parallel Dictionary) is published.

Backed by the database and programming skills of their son Dr Sumeet Kumar, Arvind and Kusum redouble their efforts to produce a bilingual version, a Hindi and English Thesaurus, which is finally published in 2007, in 3 volumes by Penguin: The Penguin English-Hindi/Hindi-English Thesaurus and Dictionary.

Since then, they have formed a family business (Arvind Linguistics with Meeta Lall as CEO) to update and market their printed works and have more recently added an online version, in two formats: a generous free sample, which anyone may access by registering and, for more advanced students, writers, journalists, scholars – and bloggers- a full version at a reasonable annual subscription. It is very practical and endlessly fascinating and I shall benefit greatly from its use.

Google reveals many reviews of Arvind’s work (some also linked from the website) but the most recent references to this inspiring undertaking are:
The award of the Shalaka Samman prize last year in Delhi and a very recent article in The Hindu by Swati Daftuar, ‘An Endless Road of Words’ (8 September 2012).