BBC NEWS ONLINE HAS A STORY ABOUT AN AUTHOR ADAM Jacot de Boinod who after pouring over 280 dictionaries and 140 websites has prepared an impressive collection of words and phrases from around the world. He has captured those sights and situations that we all experience but which can be best described only through the local idiom. Boinod says, “What I’m really trying to do is celebrate the joy of foreign words (in a totally unjudgemental way) and say that while English is a great language, one shouldn’t be surprised there are many others having, as they do, words with no English equivalent”. Here is an small selection from Boinod’s compilation:
Bakku-shan — a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front Gapanese).
Kummerspeck — the excess weight gained from emotion related overeating (Germany).
Drachenfutter — literally translated it means Dragon fodder — a peace offering made by guilty husbands to their wives. (Germany).
Uitwaaien — walking in windy weather for fun (Dutch).
Aviador — a government employee who only shows up on pay day (Among Spanish speaking people in Central America.)
English often fails to capture what the vernacular can do exceedingly well, like adding a squeeze of lemon or tasting the special tang of chutney in sandwiches. William Safire from the wall New York Times has separately referred to several Yiddishisms (words of Hebrew origin) which are now part of the English dictionary e.g. schmooze (manipulate people by talking), mensch (a person of integrity), schlock (trash) and of course chutzpah (audacity). May be one day our thummak thummak , chammak of e challo”, “gol matol”, “dadagiri”, “bindaas” and “tadi maro” will find a place there too.
English is spoken as a first language by more than 300 million people throughout the world and used as a second language by millions more. One in five persons in the world speaks English, with what the Oxford Dictionary (OD) stiffly calls “a good level of competence”. As millions more learn English it is forecast that it could lead to a dramatic effect on the English language, changing for all times. English will perforce have to accommodate local language usage, new words, grammar and pronunciation and the strict adherence to the Queen’s English will perforce have to ‘Sarak’ (Marathi for move over). Already, the OD describes India as a “complex multilingual society” where Indian English grammar has “many distinguishing features”. The concise OD cites the following as typical examples of Indian English:
“He is having very much of property.”
Similarly the COD refers to the Indian use of “isn’t it” which is tagged on after sentence like: “We are meeting tomorrow, isn’t it?” Apparently this is a typically Indian thing to do. COD also reports that Indians tend to drop verbs as in “I insisted immediate payment.”
Now that our special style of speaking has been noted, it is time our special “Hatta-Katta” English gets more place in the dictionary. As I see it it’s all “Theek Thak” — as long as it expresses what one wants to say more expressively.