Post No. 11,075

Date uploaded in London – –    2 JULY 2022         

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Urduu (Urdu) is in full ‘Zaban -i-urduu’, that means ‘language of the camp- a Persian phrase that incorporates the Turkish word ‘ordu’. Thus Urdu is the same in origin as horde.

The spoken Urdu of the 19th century, one the major languages of British India , was then called Hindustani .

Now Urdu is spoken by  6 crore/ sixty million people in Pakistan and India and adjacent countries .

It is the official language of Pakistan. Its origin lies in Sanskrit and Prakrit. The script used for Urdu consists of Persian script with some added letters. Unlike Indian language, it is written from right to left (like Indus Valley script).    

Urdu literature began in the 14th century in South India. Even now there are a large population of Urdu speakers in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. Delhi Sultanate sponsored Urdu language.

MIRZA GHALIB (born 1797) was one of the famous Urdu poets



Horde appeared in European languages after 1241 CE, when the Mongol Horde entered Poland and Hungary. It was originally Urdu. In Hindustani, Urdu meant both a nomad camp and a body of armed men.

Persia suffered most from the Mongol invasions, but yet they used Urdu to mean ‘a camp site’. But in Europe Horde ( a form of Urdu) struck terror.

In Russian, ‘orda’ meant a wild and terrifying , hostile and essentially a foreign mob. In Poland the word acquired an ‘h’ (horda) but otherwise kept the Russian sense. And in countries further west, in the languages of countries themselves un invaded by the Mongols, but horrified by the calamity of invasion, the Polish ‘horda’ and its air of dread entered French, German, Dutch, Swedish and English.


Meaning of Kanaka

Another surprisingly widespread word, rather a nasty one is ‘kanaka’, originally Hawaiian for ‘man’. It is in use in Australia.

The dictionary defines it as ‘A native of the South Sea Islands’, but in fact it is an ugly, pejorative word meaning something between ‘native’ and ‘nigger’. In various forms and spellings, it remains in use throughout the Pacific basin . in the Pacific , it is in regular use as ‘kanak’…… with a sly perversity the Melanesians had stolen the Pacific word for nigger from the French; they called their country ‘kanaky’, so the French had to call them  Melanesians.

In Ecuador and Peru,  ‘canaca’ means a Chinese, but also a brothel keeper. In Chile, it also meant a ‘brothel’, while by association with Chinese skin colouring, canaco has come to mean pale or yellow in Chile and Ecuador.

Perhaps nastiest of all, the word has somehow entered German, in which Kanake is an abusive slang term for a foreigner, immigrant labourer, refugee and so on. It is back in vogue with the rise of the German right; for example, ‘We East Germans are no Kanakas (The Times, 4 February, 1993)

Source book – Book of Babel, Nigel Lewis, Viking, 1994.


My Comments

We may compare the above abusive words to the Tamil word Pariah. It is even in Oxford Dictionary.

It is in international English newspapers almost every week. It is a shame that Tamils have not started any movement for deleting the word from the dictionaries. I am the only one campaigning against Pariah and Ayyo in Oxford and other English dictionaries.

My second comment is about Kanaka. It is associated with Yellow skin of Chinese and brothel.

Kanaka is gold in Sanskrit, which is called Yellow metal.

Last but the least, words such as Urdu/Horde , Kanaka, Pariah changed their meanings during the course of time. One must remember this while doing word research.

Xxx subham xxxx

Tags- Urdu, Horde, Kanaka, Kanake

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