English is a language that has borrowed from every language it has come into contact with. Till the 18th century, the strongest influence seen on English was that of French. In spite of the constant wars between the two countries, English has more loanwords from French than any other language. Things changed after the 18th century, with more and more native British pouring into India to take advantage of trade and colonization. They came into contact with various Indian languages such as Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, and Bengali and incorporated many words from these languages into English. Many of these words are still popular and in use today. Read on to learn about such words.
Though the snake is South American, the word might very well be of Tamil origin. It might come from the words annai kondra, or elephant-killer in Tamil.
This word refers to a small piece of paper with a note, usually referring to financial or pharmacological transactions. It originates from the Hindi word, chitti, meaning letter or note.
It is a condiment made from various vegetables or fruits with different spices added to it. The same word is used in Hindi and many other Indian languages and means pretty much the same thing. Chutney, both product and word, began to be used by the English in the 19th century.
This word means the same in both English and the Malayalam kayar from which it borrowed. It refers to the fiber extracted from coconut husk, which are used for many purposes, notably for the production of ropes.
This has probably originated from the Sanskrit krmi ja, which referred to a red colored dye produced by a worm. It meant the same thing in English for a long time but is now just a shade of red. The word in English today means a deep red, and has travelled the spice route many centuries ago to reach England via the Middle East and Spain.
Curry comes from the Tamil word kari, which means vegetables. This word has been taken into the English language in the 17th century, when the British East India Company merchants traded with Indians on the southern coast.
This comes from the Sanskrit word jangala, referring to uncultivated dry land. In English, the word means an area of wet and dense vegetation, with an abundance of trees and wildlife. The word was probably borrowed during colonial times.
Garments for nightwear, this word, as well as the item of clothing, has been borrowed from India sometime in the 19th century. The original word is pyjamas from Urdu, which in turn is a loanword from Persian. Ultimately, they all mean the same thing.
This comes from the Tamil word paraiyan, which referred to a group of so-called low-caste laborers and servants. The English word means outcast, which is aptly appropriate, even though the etymology for outcast has a Greek background.
Who has not heard of champo or champi in India? We even have a famous song based on it. Meaning massage or squeeze in Hindi, this word made it to the English language during the colonial era. Today, it refers to any liquid used for washing hair.
Image credit: poida.smith on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/IMG_20141217_101736441.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Kavitha is a freelance content writer and French translator, and has been working in this field since 2008. She has degrees in computer applications and international business and has a background in business and international trade. She enjoys learning languages and is currently learning Japanese. Her interests vary from books and writing to travelling and history.[/author_info] [/author]