STILL MORE WORDS FROM ANOTHER WORLD

Having sent off our household goods shipment in advance of our great migration, here’s another installment of words and usages from India that are new to me.  Again – these are skewed to the sensational and seasonal because my main sources are all newspapers, which there like here tend to lead with grabbers on taxes, violence, scandal, tragedy, alongside gossip and pieces on communal celebrations.

Hoardings – Large scale printed media advertising, especially billboards, although the extra big, freestanding ones appear to be called “gantries.”  Trucks whose body is a large sign rather than a cargo payload are “mobile hoardings.”

Tender Rate – Hard to tell from context, but this appears to be a tax rate or licensing fee.  I found it in an article on government crackdown on illegal hoardings (above), in which a higher tender rate was recommended, coupled with increased enforcement, including removal of illegal (unpaid) displays.

Lakh and Crore – Indian currency (rupees) are individually quite small in value.  At the time I write this, the exchange rate is roughly 1 rupee = 1.9 cents US.  Therefore prices for big ticket items – cars, houses, jewelry – are expressed in very large numbers.  One lakh = 100,000 rupees, or at today’s exchange rate, about US $1,886.79.  One crore = 10,000,000, or US $188,679.00.  It’s very common to see headlines like “Rs 1.5 lakh of jewelry stolen,” or “Rs 4.3 crore seized”.  The abbreviations are lk and cr.

Names for cardinal numbers – Numbers in general in Hindi and Sanskrit (two of many languages there) are handled differently than in English.  We have unique number words for numerals 1-12, then use a combo form to make the rest of the teens; then have a unique word for tens place numbers (20, 30, etc.) but form compound words for the numbers in between them (21, 33, 67).  In India each number to 100 has a unique name.

Body offences – A broad legal class of crimes that appears to cover the equivalent of the US terms “Bodily harm,” and “aggravated assault” although the definition also includes armed robbery, extortion by threat of injury, poisoning, slavery, and kidnapping

Various common British usages – Thrash instead of beat (“Dacoits thrashed the victim with a stout rod”); shift instead of move (“I shifted the furniture, but I didn’t think you’d mind.”); dustbin instead of trash can; attach instead of confiscate (The Enforcement Directorate attached all remaining funds, after the embezzler was identified.”)

Ota – Earthen platform or raised mound.  A temporary structure used as a platform for devotions, especially during religious celebrations.

Pandal – A structure or enclosure erected for religious purposes.  These can be permanent, but at this time of year, festival season in India, many are temporary.  The legal definition includes structures that serve business purposes, too, although newspaper citations I’ve seen have all been about temporary shrines erected for celebrations, where they are, or what provisions/fees are being levied for electrification, or other infrastructure and public safety support for them.

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