Posted tagged ‘lexicography’

Translation 44. Welcome news for Indophiles and language lovers: an abridged version of Hobson-Jobson

4 July 2013

Josephine Livingstone has just written a mouth-watering review of American scholar Kate Teltscher’s most welcome “heroic” new tome, a 570-page (i.e. half size) abridgement of the 1886 classic Hobson-Jobson, the much-quoted glossary of nineteenth century colonial Anglo-Indian “slang”.

Apart from the useful language information quoted by reviewer Livingstone, prepare yourselves to be amazed at the description of a colonial Brit, Arthur Burnell (one of the two authors of Hobson-Jobson), who managed to learn Arabic, Sanskrit, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, Javanese, Coptic and Tibetan. (Yes!) But before trying to emulate Burnell, bear in mind that he died in India, aged 42, of cholera, pneumonia and “overwork” (and, presumably, of acute polyglottal indigestion as well).

For more details, rush NOW to read Livingstone’s review here.

With many thanks to polyglot friend and internet guru Ronnie R. for the tip-off.

1.For my appreciated faithful readers, please do not be alarmed. The extreme brevity of this “blog” entitles it to the new Internet category of ‘bleet’ (Copyright Brian Steel and family – bless them!).

2. If you have the time, curiosity and patience, skim the Comments on this article by Livingstone in Prospect in order to see the best and the less admirable of Internet democratic participation in full flow.

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

22 September 2012

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).

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

30 August 2010

For the curious student of foreign languages and cultures, the influence of dominant national religions is often visually or audibly embedded in the language, especially in vocabulary and idiom and, as we shall see below, in people’s first, or given, names.

In English, with the decline in influence of the various Christian churches, the deliberate choice by parents of given names with strong Christian connotations has waned, especially in the cases of Faith, Hope, Charity, Comfort, Constance, Grace (Gracie), Epiphany, and Patience. With many others, the survival of the names usually has more to do with their acceptability and sound than with solid religious associations.
For example:
Adam, Benedict, Benjamin, Candace, Christian, Christopher, Dominic, Eve. (As further proof of this decline, the former descriptor for English language given names was the Christian name but this term is no longer officially recommended or accepted in most English-speaking countries because of far-reaching social and cultural changes in the past 50 years.

In other European languages the religious link is still strong, or at least stronger than in English, notably in southern predominantly (at least in name) Catholic Europe. For example, in spite of the massive decline of catholicism in Spain since the demise of dictator Franco and in some other Spanish-speaking countries, many children are still baptised as:
Anunciación, Concepción, Inmaculada (immaculate), Natividad (the Nativity), Encarnación (incarnation), Ascensión, Martirio (martyrdom), Esperanza (Hope), Consuelo (Consolation), Milagros (Miracles), Jesusa, Dolores (María de los Dolores), Cruz (Cross – as noun rather than adjective);
Amparo (Protection), María del Pilar (Mary of the Pillar), Mercedes (Mercies), Rosario (rosary), Caridad (Charity), Paz (Peace).

Similarly, the following boy’s names are still bestowed upon infants in Spanish-speaking countries:
Jesús, Salvador (Saviour), José, (Joseph), José María (Joseph and Mary), Santos, (Saints), Angel, Angel María, and Miguel Angel.

In Jewish families, religion-related given names are still current and strongly retain their cultural semantic connotations:
Aaron, Abraham, Adam, Benjamin, Daniel, David, Ephraim, Esther, Hannah, Isaac, Jacob, Jeremiah, Jonathan, Joshua, Moses, Noah, Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Samuel, Sarah, Solomon.

In India, a sizeable minority of the population are Muslims and bear Muslim names deriving from Arabic, Persian and Urdu:
Abdul, Ahmed, Ali, Anwar, Asif, Aziz, Feroz, Hussein, Imran, Irfan, Irshad, Karim,
Mirza, Mohammed, Nasim, Nur, Rahim, Said, Salim, Salman, Samir, Saroj, Sayid, Tahir, Tariq,Yusuf, Zakir, etc.

However, the overwhelming majority of Indians (approximately 80%) identify themselves as Hindu and bear names so closely associated with aspects of Hindu spirituality and culture that many of them are also nouns or adjectives in Sanskrit or in Hindi, its derivative or descendant.

Since these Hindi/Sanskrit names are still far less well known in the wider English-speaking world outside (largely English-speaking) India than the others offered above and since they are featured in the global media more and more often due to India’s increasing economic and geopolitical development and will continue to grow in global importance for English speakers (and others), I present a small selection in this overview of the links between culture / religion and language.

Apart from my own reading, travel and study, I am relying heavily here on the glosses offered in a very rich, tentacular interconnected website for ALL Given Names, that of Mike Campbell, which I recommend for further and deeper study: Behind the Name. The Etymology and History of First Names

The following is a selection of female and male Hindi or Sanskrit names which will be met in travel in India as well as in the media and on the Internet, and, of course, more and more, in Bollywood films and in the literary and sporting worlds.

Abhishek, m, anointment
Aishwarya, f, prosperity
Ajeet / Ajit, m, unconquered
Amar, immortal [cf. Amartya Sen]
Amitabh, m, shining (Buddha) [as in Bachchan]
Ananda, f, bliss
Aravind, m, lotus
Arjun, m, clear
Aseema, f, boundless
Ashok, m, without sorrow

Bharat, India
Dev, m, god
Devdas, m, servants of the gods
Devi, f, goddess
Divya, f, divine
Gauri, f, goddess Parvati
Gita, f, song [Bhagavad Gita]
Gopal, m, cow protector [Krishna]
Govind, m, cow herder [Krishna] [Sikh version: Gobind]

Jagdish, m , ruler of the world
Jay, m, victory
Jayant, m, victorious
Jyoti, f, light
Kalyana, m, beautiful [also a beer]
Kamal, m, lotus
Kiran, f, sunbeam
Krishna, m, dark blue; Krishna
Lakshmi, f, female deity

Madhu, f, honey
Mahesh, m, great Lord
Maya, f, illusion
Mohan, m, charming
Narendra, m, lord of man
Nirmala, f, pure

Padma, f, lotus
Pankaj, m, lotus
Prabhu, n, mighty
Pradeep, m, lantern
Priya, f, beloved
Purushottam, m, the best amongst men

Radha,f, flower [& Krishna’s female companion]
Raj, m, king
Rajesh, m, king + Isha (deity)
Rajneesh, m, lord of the night
Ram, Rama, m, Lord Rama
Ramesh, Rama + Isha (deity)
Rani, f, queen
Ravi, m, sun

Sachin, m, pure
Sanjay, m, triumphant
Sati, f, truthful
Satya, m, truth
Shanti, f, peace
Sunil, m, positive prefix + blue [Krishna-like?]
Suraj, m, sun
Venkat, m, a reference to Vishnu
Vijay, m, victory
Vikram, m, distinction.