Jonathon Green slang at ABECEDARY.NET
Fri Sep 12 14:58:43 UTC 2003

>No plausible vector?  Yogi Maharishi Mahesh, the
>Beatles in India, transcendental meditation, Kama
>Sutra, yoga, gurus, sitar music, etc. ... American and
>European youth in the 60's had great interest in and
>contact with the peoples and cultures of "Hindustan".

Sorry, but no. I am 100% with Jesse. The Hindi-US link isn't there. I was
very much 'in' the Sixties, wrote for the then 'underground press' and
subsequently wrote two books on the period, for both of which I interviewed,
inter alia, many veterans of the 'hippie trail'. Indeed, a number of close
friends took it, though I resisted. The travellers on the trail brought back
many things (cannabis, incense, hepatitis, a mercifully shortlived, in most
cases, religiosity) but Indian slang was not among them. Yes, there might be
such terms as _bhang_ and _charas_, both common names for cannabis, and
doubtless a few ill-digested references to _karma_, _dharma_ and the like
(all of which could have been picked up by any properly read beatnik without
leaving the City Lights Bookstore), but what would still have been a pretty
abstruse Hindi slang lexicon was not among them. I would suggest that to
pick up that level of vocabulary would have required a great deal more
intimacy than there was. Westerners were still essentially exotic, and once
they forsook the ashrams or the known hippie hotels and cafes (and the
attendant drug dealers) were not especially welcome. For instance my wife,
who went to India in '65, had a crowd throwing stones at her and had her
camera ripped open when she attempted to take perfectly innocent tourist
pictures in quite a large city. Hers was not an isolated experience.

If there is one proven vector of Hindi - whether slang or standard usages -
to Western slang then surely it's those who worked and lived in India for
far longer than the hippies, the British civil servants, Army personnel and
businessmen of the Raj. And while one can find their 'Anglo-Indian'
vocabulary in Yule & Burnell's _Hobson Jobson_ (1886), there are relatively
few slang terms that made the trip home. _Blighty_ (from _wilyati/bilyati_ =
foreign and meaning England) being the best known. But obscenities, for all
that Hobson-Jobson, however coyly, lists _banchut_ = motherfucker (Yule &
Burnell do not translate it, suggesting only that those who know it will do
so without further help, it contains that same _chut_ that is the subject of
this discussion on _choad_) seem to have stayed where they were. A few
insults, such as _badmash_, a scoundrel or _soor_, lit. a pig, and used as a
general putdown, might come home with an elderly military man, but they
didn't last.

So, fwiw, I shall stick with Navajo and _chodis_.

Jonathon Green

More information about the Ads-l mailing list