Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hindi Loanwords: Part 1

In previous loanwords posts we've looked at English vocabulary from languages such as Tupí, Tamil, and Malay. Today and tomorrow, we'll be taking a look at some of the most interesting terms that have entered the English lexicon from Hindi, one of the top five most-spoken languages in the world.

For when you need to walk like an Egyptian...
Bangle - While these bracelets are worn as fashion accessories in many countries, they were originally traditional ornaments worn by women in India and Pakistan. Many brides wear as many glass bangles as possible, and when the last breaks, their honeymoon is considered to have come to an end. Their name comes from the Hindi term bangri.

Bungalow - These low, thatched houses with wide verandas get their name from the Hindi word bangla meaning "Bengali", or in this case, "house in the Bengal style". 

Chutney - If you've ever had Indian food, then you've surely seen chutney before. This wide range of condiments can be powdered or more similar to fruit preserves. Chutney is typically made by grinding ingredients using a mortar and pestle, so it makes sense that it gets its name from the Hindi word chatni meaning "to crush".

A cheetah stalking its prey.
Cheetah - These cats are the fastest land animal in existence, but they were named for their appearance, not their speed. Their English name came from the Hindi chita, which in turn evolved from the Sanskrit term chitraka, meaning "speckled".

Cot - Why sleep on the floor when you can use a portable bed instead? These handy pieces of furniture get their name from the Hindi word khat meaning "couch" or "hammock", which in turn came from the Sanskrit khatva.

Dinghy - If your cruise ship hits an iceberg and you don't want to end up like Jack in Titanic, you better hope that it's carrying enough dinghies for everyone! The word comes from the Hindi term dingi, meaning "small boat".

We'll have more Hindi loanwords to share in Part 2 tomorrow.