CONVENT.

Dick & Garlick (“Notes on Indian English, Hinglish, slang & pop culture”) is always an interesting read, and R Devraj’s latest post discusses the north Indian use of convent as “a generic term for an English-medium school. Hence, convented, adj., someone who has studied at an English-medium school.” Checking the OED to see if this surprising sense was there (it wasn’t), I was reminded that the Middle English form was covent (from Anglo-French covent, cuvent, couvent), the Latinizing form convent (after Latin conventum ‘assembly’) being introduced in the mid-16th century, and Covent Garden was originally the kitchen garden of the Abbey or Convent of St. Peter, Westminster, something I doubtless once knew but had long forgotten.

Comments

  1. marie-lucie says:

    The Modern French word is couvent. Before public education most schools were run by religious orders, and this continued in a lesser way even when states took over the business of education. A Japanese friend of mine attended a school (in Japan) run by Irish nuns (this would have been about 60 years ago).

  2. Yes, (to echo the first comment)it’s probably just due to the fact that many of the English-medium schools were run by religious orders. Here in Malaysia there have been several schools with Convent in their names, if I’m not mistaken.

  3. There’s also the Konvikt, an institution modelled on the monastery, where future parish priests and teachers live and learn together. It comes from vivere/victus. Note the participle is the same as in vincere/victus. You da winner, you survives, and contrariwise.
    It’s one of those German words that have an attention-grabbing, cognate-collaring effect on the English speaker. You might think Sprachenkonvikt means “language convict” (linguist), but it’s just an ecclesiastical institution for learning ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

  4. Thanks so much for the link, Hat! Now I will ask my Dad tomorrow if the Hill Station boarding convent his sisters went to was a convent in the Nun sense or in the North Indian sense. Who knew that your esteemed blog could fill in readers’ family history‽ Bahut shukriya.

  5. Catanea says:

    Perhaps you’ve all discussed this before, but I had to look up “LSR” and the various acronym hunters failed me. But I’m now guessing it’s Lady Shri Ram (College) which is the “convent” that produces women graduates unsuitable as brides?

  6. No, we certainly haven’t discussed it, and I thank you for doing the research, though you’d have to ask R Devraj whether your guess is correct.

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