Even if you don't know it, you speak Indish if:
- you wear pajamas (pai = leg, jama = garment. origin: Persian, common to most Indian languages)
- you shampoo your hair (champi = press or knead the head or any part of the body; origin: Hindi)
- your wardrobe contains khaki clothing (khak = dust; origin: Persian / Urdu)
- you have ever witnessed the unstoppable juggernaut of a social or political movement (refers to the chariot of the god Jagannath which is rolled out with great force and momentum through the streets of the eastern Indian city of Puri once a year; origin: Sanskrit)
- you don't want to be a pariah within your social circle ( pariah = the name of an untouchable caste; origin: Tamil)
- on the other hand, you do want to be perceived as a pundit ( pundit = learned, expert; from the original Sanskrit)
- the Swastika makes you nervous (Swasti: well being; origin: Sanskrit . Incidentally, the Swastika which is a symbol associated with unspeakable horror in the west, is a common auspicious marking in Hindu households and invokes peace, harmony and general contentment.)
- you are natty dresser who ties a colorful bandana around your head or neck (bandhan = to tie; origin: Sanskrit )
- you relax with an occasional after-dinner cheroot (churuttoo = a roll of tobacco; origin:Tamil)
- you wear a toupée (topee = cap or hat; origin: Hindi)
English, German, Persian and north Indian languages originating in Sanskrit are said to belong to the Indo-European group of languages. Many words in these tongues have common roots. Examples of some common words in English closely related to their cousins in the other three : father, mother, brother, widow, deity and many more. In these cases, the bifurcation occurred in ancient times. The bulleted words listed above however, are relatively recent arrivals and were absorbed during colonial times when Europeans occupied India. Colonial English borrowed from both north and south Indian languages, the latter group falling outside the Indo-European classification. Some of them went directly from the Indian to English. Others took a more circuitous path via Portuguese, French and even Latin. For more of the same, see here. Some of the words will naturally be more familiar to the British than to American English speakers. The list is by no means exhaustive. But as you will see, you also speak Indish if you've ever visited a bazaar to buy a mango, occupied a bungalow with a veranda, acquired a guru to enrich your body and soul or lusted after a pricey cashmere sweater.
Note: This quick post was inspired by the discovery that the new Merriam-Webster collegiate dictionary to be published next fall will contain the word Bollywood among nearly 100 other new words in English.