Sunday, November 27, 2011

Language- becoming richer by borrowing !

Language is a living and growing phenomenon- always borrowing words from other languages and assimilating them. While the American English is known to be more flexible and open, the Queen’s English (UK) bound as it is in strict rules of grammar- is more considered more conservative and not so open to external influences. But Queen’s English has also evolved over the years or one could say centuries. From Chaucer to Shakespeare and in modern times, the changes that have taken place are too obvious to have escaped notice. One is amused to see the words like “ lathi charge ”,& “ hartal ” etc finding a place in the English dictionaries. The word juggernaut ” meaning chariot is clearly derived from “ Jagarnath “ or “ Jagannath ” another name for Lord Krishna or even Lord Vishnu .

Recently , we have the word “ moolah ”- a slang for money ; another word “ diva ” denoting a woman of exceptional talent , as far as fine arts are concerned , seems derived from “ Devi ” meaning a Goddess . Similarly the word “avatar” hitherto reserved for an incarnation or a manifestation of God in the Hindu pantheon , has acquired a wider meaning. The ubiquitous potato in a new recipe is said to have come in a new “avatar”. There may be examples of such usage galore. The Hindi words like Guru, Mantra and Jugaad have already been recognized all over the world and are frequently used in English text.


  1. .

    Yeah ! Borrowing is not a problem always...

    Congrats , you got your account back.


  2. Yes, Zeal , borrowing words and assimilating them are two important features of a developing and evolving language .
    Thanks ! as your good wishes came handy in getting back my account !

  3. In fact assimilation of words is the hallmark of the English language. Herein lies its magnanimity. Thats why it has the largest vocabulary.

  4. Exactly my point , Bali ji !
    Thanks .

  5. yes, language, no matter which one, grows richer as it touches upon andives through various cultures and times

    btw,Chaucer is my most fav English writer and was so glad to see his name mentioned on a blog. not many know him as Shakespeare is the more 'famous' one

  6. Chaucer's "Prologue to Canterbury Tales" & the "Nun's Priest's Tale" were prescribed in our syllabus, when I was a university student in the seventies .It was a pleasure to read the text in Medieval English.Though lesser known,delineation of characters and graphic description are his forte .


    1. sorry i should've said 'Middle English '