1) The Oxford Dictionary makes it a point to include all new terms which are in use in the English language. The words are chosen by the Oxford English Dictionary’s Reading Programme, a huge project employing fifty readers. The findings of the Reading Programme are fed into a vast database called ‘Incomings.’
2) Indian words began trickling into English vocabulary with the establishment of trade relations between the East and West. Common words like ginger, mango and orange find their roots in the ancient Dravidian tongue, Tamil.
3) A large number of native words like pariah, sati, purdah, chintz, catamarans, mulligatawny, pukka and others became part of the English language during the three centuries of British rule in India.
4) Award winning Indian writers like Salman Rushdie, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Vikram Sheth, Arundhati Roy and others introduced more native terms into English.
5) Indian cuisine has achieved a high degree of popularity in England and along with it names of culinary items like curry, ghee and kebab have become familiar and widely used.
6) English speaking Indians, outnumbering the entire British population, form the third largest English speaking community. England now has several Indian migrants who have made native terms part of the English language.
The Oxford dictionary, with every edition, faithfully records all the Indian words absorbed into the English vocabulary. English has accepted words from Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarathi and Marathi. The following is an interesting list.
1. Philosophical and Spiritual terms
2. Social and Religious terms
- Aryan (Sanskrit) – a group of people who spoke the parent language of the Indo-European group of languages.
- Chakra (Sanskrit) – center of spiritual energy in the human body, wheel or circle.
- Dharma (Sanskrit) – moral law.
- Guru (Sanskrit) – a teacher, guide or mentor.
- Nirvana (Sanskrit) – a state of perfect happiness.
3. Terms of Fashion
- Juggernaut (Hindi) – an overwhelming force that crushes everything in its path.
- Pariah (Tamil) - social outcast.
- Sati (Hindi) – the former Hindu practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
- Pundit (Hindi) – a learned person.
- Purdah (Urdu) – a curtain or screen used for purposes of sex segregation.
4. Culinary Terms
- Bandana (Hindi) – a large, handkerchief brightly coloured.
- Bindi (Hindi) – a dot marked on the forehead by Hindu wives.
- Bangle (Hindi) – a rigid bracelet or anklet.
- Dhoti (Hindi) – a loincloth worn by Hindu men in India.
- Jodhpurs (Rajasthani) – long riding breeches.
- Curry (Tamil) – a spicy dish.
- Basmati (Hindi) – a type of rice.
- Ghee (Hindi) – clarified butter.
- Kebab (Urdu) – roasted meat.
- Chutney (Hindi) – a side dish for food.
- Bungalow (Bengali) – a small house.
- Loot (Hindi) – stolen goods.
- Chit (Marathi) – a note or letter.
- Catamaran (Tamil) – a raft made of wood.
- Cheetah (Sanskrit) – long legged, African or South West Asian wild cat that can run at tremendous speed.