Eddie Izzard on the naming of Engelbert Humperdinck

Image from last.fm

His name changed from Gerry Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck. I mean, I just wanted to be in the room when they were working that one through:

“Zingelbert Bembledack! Yingybert Dambleban! Zangelbert Bingledack! Wingelbert Humptyback! Slut Bunwalla!”


“All right, Kringelbert Fishtybuns! Steviebuns Bottrittrundle –”

“No, Gerry Dorsey! I like Gerry Dorsey!”

“No, we can’t, who we got? Zingelbert Bembledack, Tringelbert Wangledack, Slut Bunwalla, Klingybun Fistelvase, Dindlebert Zindledack, Gerry Dorsey, Engelbert Humptyback, Zengelbert Bingledack, Engelbert Humperdinck, Vingelbert Wingledanck –”

Image from Wikipedia

“No, no, go back one!”

“Engelbert Humperdinck?!”

“That’s it!”

Doing the needful, part II

Image from geekswithblogs.net

Turns out Wikipedia has its own list of Hinglish words and phrases. Please note that I mean not even the slightest disrespect or mockery with these posts. I sincerely appreciate this particular sub-strain of English. From Wikipedia:

Acting pricey = playing “hard to get,” being snobbish.

Alphabets = letters: “There are six alphabets in my name.”

Boss = used to refer to a (generally) male stranger such as a shopkeeper. It is mildly respectful and friendly, and not considered condescending, e.g., “Boss, what is the cost of that pen?” Perhaps right after he asks, “What is your good name?”

Co-brother = indicates relationship between two men who are married to sisters, as in “He is my co-brother.” Similarly: Co-sister.

Co-inlaws = indicates relationship between two sets of parents whose son and daughter are married.

Cousin-brother = male first cousin, cousin-sister = female first cousin.

Damn = used as an intensifier, especially a negative one, far more frequently and with far more emphatic effect than in other dialects of English (e.g., “that was a damn good meal.”) As the verb “to damn” is rarely used, most Indians are unaware of the word’s original meaning and that it is considered a profanity in other dialects of English. (As I mentioned in the last post: my dad would have become the King of India.)

Dearness allowance = payment given to employees to compensate for the effects of inflation; a cost-of-living increase.

Double and triple = for digits occurring twice or three times in succession is common, especially for a phone number. E.g., the phone number 223-3344 would be pronounced as “double-two, triple-three, double-four.” “Thrice,” meaning “three times,” is also common.

Doubt = question or query; e.g., one would say “I have a doubt” when one wishes to ask a question.

Dress = used to refer to clothing for men, women, and children alike. Young girls in India invariably wear what we call a “dress,” commonly referred to as a “frock” in Indian English.

Eggitarian = a person who eats vegetarian food, milk, and eggs but not meat; an ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

Elder = used as a comparative adjective in the sense of older (e.g., “I am elder to you.”)

Equipments = plural for equipment, e.g., “Go to the place to define equipments.”

Eve teasing = verbal sexual harassment of women.

Long-cut = the opposite of a short-cut; taking the longer route.

Non-veg = short for non-vegetarian, food which contains flesh of any mammal, fish, bird, shellfish, or eggs. Fish, seafood, and eggs are not treated as categories separate from “meat,” especially when the question of vegetarianism is at issue (milk and its products are always considered vegetarian). E.g., “We are having non-veg today for dinner.” Figuratively, a “non-veg joke” is a joke with mature content.

Only = used to emphasize a part of speech preceding it. For example “He is coming only” instead of “He is coming,” “He was at the meeting only” to emphasize that he was nowhere else but the meeting, and “She only is not coming” to mean that everyone is coming except her.

Paining = hurting. “My head is paining.”

Pin drop silence = extreme silence, quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

Redressal = reparation, redress, remedy.

See = used instead of watch, e.g., “He is seeing TV right now.”  Similarly, to see may be used as an imperative to mean to watch, e.g.,” See that very carefully.”

Solid = great or exceptional. “What a solid idea!” means “What a great idea!” (This may actually be an Americanism.)

The same = the aforementioned, e.g.,” I heard that you have written a document. Could you send me the same?”

Uncle and Aunty = Used as suffixes when addressing people such as distant relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, and even total strangers (like shopkeepers) who are significantly older than oneself. Children addressing their friends’ parents as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” is rare, and may even be considered unacceptable or offensive. A substitution of “Sir” or “Ma’am” is common for addressing teachers, professors, or any person in an official position, but too formal to address other elder persons. Using these terms can also connote a derogatory reference to the advanced age of an individual. (Don’t ask me how I learned this, but on the Internet, “aunty” is often used as the Hinglish equivalent of “milf.”) (I said, don’t ask me how I learned this.)

Where are you put up? = Where are you currently staying?

Where do you stay? = Where do you live? Or, where’s your house?

Would-be = one’s betrothed, e.g., one’s “would-be” wife or husband.

And finally, since you already know I’m a font geek.


I just discovered my new favorite word.

At the risk of coming off as culturally insensitive, something I strive to avoid, I just discovered a non-English word that genuinely makes my heart glad. I plan to use it every day for the rest of my life.

One of our local supermarkets is owned by the local Ojibwe band. The market is going through a major expansion and remodeling, and features signage that displays the department names in both Ojibwe and English. And as it turns out, the Ojibwe word for “dairy” is “Doodooshaabooniwang.”

Image from me

Image from mytvfez.wordpress.com

Yup, that’s right. “Doodooshaabooniwang.”

This is now my all-time favorite word. This replaces my previous favorite word, “dondurma,” which is Turkish for “ice cream.” Good thing I’m not lactose-intolerant.

Dondurma image from The New York Times

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have learned this awesome word.  It’s like the chorus from a 1960s girl-group song:

“I’m in love with the neighborhood milkman..
He delivers every morning like no one else can..

And of course the fact that it features both “doo-doo” and “wang” greatly amuses the eleven-year-old kid inside my head.

I can’t wait to use it. “Honey, do we need anything from the doodooshaabooniwang?” “Yes, dear, please pick up some dondurma..”

Kindly do the needful.

Image from geekswithblogs.net

I love Indian English. By which I mean English as spoken by people of India. It’s been referred to as “Hinglish” as it’s sort of a duke’s mixture of Hindu and Punjabi and the Queen’s English, spoken there by those Brits those many, many years. Some Indianisms I tumbled upon through a column by writer Donald DeMello, which has made the rounds of the Intertubes. They are so useful that they need to be part of every-day language in the rest of the world. Some of these are from DeMello’s column, some from other places.

This commercial is a great example of Hinglish, I think.

“Doing the needful”: This is considered archaic in many regions of India, but I think it deserves a resurgence. To do the needful means to just do it, do what is necessary, take care of bidness, get ‘er done.

“What is your good name?”: Apparently this is the greeting tourists will often receive in Indian business places. Like you also have a bad phony name, but they don’t want that one.

“Sleep is coming”: That just says it all. “Let’s take rest now, sleep is coming.”

“Updation”: Being updated, brought current, upgraded.

“Entry from backside only”: A traffic direction commonly found in urban areas, indicating the way to an access point. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Prepone”: To cancel something before it begins. If you can postpone something, why can’t you prepone it?

“Take tension”: To be stressed out.

“Do nuisance”: Take a leak, especially in public.

“Airdash”: Going somewhere in a hurry.

“Badmash”: Hooligan, wild-hair, bad mofo.

“Timepass”: Something to pass the time, like reading this blog for instance.

“Felicitate”: This is probably my favorite. It means to make very happy, to delight, to express joy or pleasure, and/or to congratulate someone. One source wrote that India is the only place the word is used like this.

Someone I know works with many people of Indian descent (in the IT field, not surprisingly). She has commented often about how her co-workers seem to love the word “damn.” They sprinkle it throughout their conversation, in places we would not usually expect it: “Pass the damn ketchup, please.” They think it’s the greatest English word of all.

My dad, therefore, would have been the king of India.

Says it all.

Image from someecards.com


Hermackadoo photo courtesy of ehowcdn.com

When my adorable niece Nolia was an adorable wee tyke she was already quite verbal. Describing a trip to the doctor for a checkup one day, she couldn’t remember the word “thermometer” and referred to it as a “hermackadoo.”

I think that’s brilliant. “Hermackadoo” is a much better name for this device. I’m going to start calling it by that name whenever I go to the doctor. I think you should too.


I hate the word “monies.”

More word issues. That word has always bugged the crap out of me. “Money” is already plural. You don’t have “a money” and “many monies.” This excellent blog by Hellmar sums it up nicely:

You never have one money, you always have some money. So “monies” is a completely useless and redundant word by any application I can think of. There’s never a situation where “monies” could be used and “money” couldn’t be substituted. The dictionary actually defines “monies” as “a plural form of money,” the problem being that money already is fucking plural.