I’ve just run across a wonderful blog called “Dick & Garlick: Notes on Indian English, Hinglish, Tamlish, Bonglish & other -lishes.” The last entry was on November 19, 2004; I hope that it’s simply having a nice rest rather than being defunct, because it’s a stylish, hilarious, and well-informed look at the forms of English spoken on the Indian subcontinent. The first entry that caught my eye was Hazaar fucked; hazaar (or more scientifically hazār) ‘thousand,’ a Persian loan word, has been combined with a widespread English participle to produce a memorably resonant phrase, the subject of the following quote from Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August:

“Amazing mix, the English we speak. Hazaar fucked. Urdu and American,” Agastya laughed, “a thousand fucked, really fucked. I’m sure nowhere else could languages be mixed and spoken with such ease.” The slurred sounds of the comfortable tiredness of intoxication, “‘You look hazaar fucked, Marmaduke dear.’ ‘Yes, Dorothea, I’m afraid I do feel hazaar fucked’—see, doesn’t work”.

There are also great entries on alur dosh (“a colourful Bengali phrase that translates as ‘the fault of the testicles'”), words for toadies (“I know about toady-bachchas and hukkabardars, but what on earth is a jholichuk? A quick Internet search suggests this is a derogatory term for Sikhs who collaborated with the Raj, but I haven’t found a proper definition or explanation of the word’s origin”), MLA Pesarattu (“MLA stands for ‘Member of the Legislative Assembly’… the MLA is all-powerful in Andhra Pradesh in ways we cannot imagine… In fact, there may be an element of satire involved in naming a jumbo dosa an MLA dosa, a dig at the politican’s voracious greed”), and the phrase “something black in the lentils” meaning ‘there’s something fishy going on’ (for some reason I can’t link to the post, but it’s dated November 16, 2004). R Devraj, if you’re listening, please come back—Blogistan has need of you!


  1. The book Hobson-Jobson, a thousand page glossary of XIXc Anglo-Indian, can be found at bookfinder.com for as little as $4. I just ordered it.

  2. I remember this passage in “English, August.” It’s on the very first page, I think. The whole book is great, by the way, wise and extremely funny. It really is too bad that Chatterjee and his potty-mouthed, pot-smoking, Marcus Aurelius and Keith Jarrett-obsessed young hero are not better known in the States.

  3. I’ll have to look for it.

  4. I’m sure nowhere else could languages be mixed and spoken with such ease” Really?
    Only 2 hrs ago I’ve came across an amusing adjective *мисчивистая* (characteristic of a “girl”) in a Russian blog. [from mischief, did you guess?]
    I’m not sure how many millions of Russians around the world speak REnglish, so I will restrain myself from claims it will eventually replace English…

  5. There’s a pretty good film of English, August, too, by Dev Benegal — though nothing can match the book. Thanks for this reference, it’s right up my alley!

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