Useful Words From Indian English

Useful Words From Indian English

Mar 9 2011, 4:50 PM ET
By James Fallows

By Sanjay Saigal

In his list of lessons learned traveling by Indian air carriers — who knew? — topmost for my fellow guest blogger Sriram Gollapalli is:

1. Flights can be advanced (seemingly without too much notice)
Here Sriram inexplicably lets pass an opportunity to circulate a wonderful word from Indian English — prepone

Prepone is the antonym of postpone. It makes perfect sense. If an event is re-timed to occur earlier than previously scheduled, it is preponed. A marriage is preponed, for instance, if  the couple decide to elope to Las Vegas instead.
Why is this word not in common currency worldwide?

Locutions in Indian English can be mystifying to the untrained ear. North Indians of a certain age, for instance, might say something along the lines of, “James Cameron is the holisoli on his films.” Holisoli, as it happens, is a re-purposed “wholly and solely.” In other words, James Cameron is responsible for all aspects of his films.

A couple of other locutions peculiar to Indian English that lack comfortable equivalents in American English are:
  • Black money is undeclared wealth, likely obtained by illegal means. Given that cheating on taxes isn’t exactly rare, I’m not sure why the term doesn’t see more use in America.
  • Funda, slang, from fundamental, refers to an essential truth, as in, “Did you see Charlie Sheen on television hurling fundas left, right and center?”

Sanjay Saigal is founder and CEO of Mudrika Education, Inc., with offices in Silicon Valley, CA and Delhi, India.

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