To an Indian, words like ‘Achcha’, ‘Bapu’, ‘Bada Din’, ‘Bachcha’, ‘Surya Namaskar’ retain certain charm and are synonymous to every day usage with friends and family. However, these desi words have now gone global in the latest edition of Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Total of 70 words from various regional languages like Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and Gujarati have been added in the dictionary, which was updated a month back alongside 900 distinctive words already identified by OED.
One word that stands for elder brother in Tamil and Telugu, ‘Anna’, has found a mention in the Dictionary. Until a month ago, the definition of ‘anna’ existed in the dictionary as the former monetary unit of India and Pakistan, equal to one sixteenth of a rupee used even after Independence and discontinued in 1994. However, the word included as a form of a noun is used as a reverential title or a form of address.
Most of the words inducted are connected to food, culture or relationships. ‘Achcha’ used in Hindi refers to an expression of affirmation akin to okay even surprise, joy or understanding of a situation. Urdu word “Abba’ meaning father has also been included in Oxford English Dictionary.
According to ‘Release Notes: Indian English’ written by Danica Salazar, the author explains that ‘Indian speech etiquette features a complex system of kinship terms and terms of address, in which age, gender, status, and family relationships are marked by a highly specific vocabulary with no direct equivalents in English. This lexical gap is filled by borrowing such words from Indian languages (abba, Anna, bapu, chacha, didi, -ji, mata), or adapting existing English words (cousin brother, cousin sister).’ The lexicon has a fascinating mix of languages from food too, as words like ‘dum’, ‘gosht’, ‘gulab jamun’, ‘keema’, ‘mirch’, ‘mirch masala’, ‘namkeen’, ‘vada’ have been added.
English words continue to be one of the important forms of communication as well as hold a unique identity in the capacity of an official and living language even after seventy years of Independence. The inclusion of the seventy words in OED reflects the mingling and evolution of the diverse Indian culture that has shaped the way of speaking English in the country.