Saturday, January 28

70 words to celebrate 70 years of inspiration

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The British Council on Friday concluded its 70th anniversary in India by celebrating 70 Indian-origin words which have found their way into mainstream English lexicon.

Ayear after India’s independence in 1948, British Council began its Indian journey from Kolkata (then Calcutta) and two other cities. “These 70 words are expressions of acknowledgement of how India inspired the English language over the years,” said Debanjan Chakrabarti, director (east and northeast).

“Hundreds of words have entered the English dictionary over the years. Out of them, these 70 have been chosen carefully from categories ranging from food, clothing, spirituality and wildlife to highlight the extent and intensity of India’s influence and inspiration,” said Chakrabarti. All the 70 words feature in Oxford English Dictionary and experts from Oxford University Press were consulted while finalizing then.

The earliest Indian word that found its way into English, according to British Council, is ‘cummerbund’. It was picked up by British military 400 years ago from the Urdu and Persian ‘kamarband’ (waist-band). The modern use of the cummerbund is in formal evening wear (worn with a tuxedo). The latest entry among these 70 words is ‘bhelpuri’, which joined the list with Indian ornithologist Salim Ali’s 1985 ‘Fall of a Sparrow’.

There are also some words which entered English lexicon long ago, but their usage was largely revived in the mid-1990s. For instance, the economic importance of pashminas was identified as early as 1877 and the word saw significant revival in English in the mid-1990s when pashmina shawls became popular in the west.

In its 70th year in India, British Council also launched the Primary Plus — a course to improve English learning for children aged between 7 and 10. The programme aims to enhance communication, creativity and leadership skills, helping them become confident and poised for success.

“Children now need 21st century life skills from an early age to develop into successful and confident individuals. The course aims to help them achieve that,” said Chakrabarti.

Source: Times of India

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