John Larrysson Column: Indian English in Hong Kong 2 of 2
文章日期:2012年7月18日

There are many different varieties of English around the world. The two most important varieties of English are British and American. (Which of those is most important is a discussion for another day.) The third most important is Indian English. It is different from the first two because it is a second language variety and not a native speaker variety. Hong Kong English has its own characteristics, but it is not as developed, nor as important internationally as Indian English. When people are doing international business they need to be aware of the different varieties of English. Even simple things can cause trouble, such as the difference in floor counting between British and American English.

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Since there is no government regulation of the English language, no variety of English is absolutely correct. Even in the United Kingdom there are local variations in English. Some other languages (French, German, Norwegian...) have government laws that decide the official spelling and grammar rules. English does not. English speakers can use whatever variety of English is most useful. Americans and British people will choose to use other varieties of English when it is useful; such as when they are doing business in other countries.

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Here is a glossary, or mini-dictionary, of Indian English words commonly found in Hong Kong. Most of these words are related to food and found in Hong Kong's Indian restaurants. This glossary can be very helpful in Hong Kong's many Indian restaurants.

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Glossary of Indian English words often used in Hong Kong

aloo

-potato

amah

-domestic helper

bhaji

-a type of fried vegetable snack

biryani

-fried rice

Bodhisattva

-deity, enlightened person, Buddha

channa

-chickpeas, a type of pea

chit

-a receipt or ticket

coolie

-unskilled worker

chop

-an official stamp or mark on goods or contracts to indicate their identity or quality

congee

-a breakfast food made by boiling rice with water until the mixture has liquefied

curry

-sauce

dal

-a type of pea

falafels

-a ball made from crushed chickpeas, a type of Indian dim sum

gobhi

-cauliflower, a vegetable related to cabbage

gulab jamun

-a very sweet round Indian dim sum

hummus

-a sauce made with chickpeas

korma

-a sauce made with yoghurt, cream, or coconut milk

lassi

-a yoghurt drink, often with mango

makhani

-butter

masala

-a spice mixture

muttor

-peas

naan

-an India bread, softer than roti

nullah

- a small river

palak paneer

-spinach and paneer cheese

paneer

-a type of soft cheese

paratha

-a flat bread, often containing vegetables

pilaf rice

-rice cooked in soup to give it extra flavour

pita

-a flat bread with a hollow pocket in the middle

roti

-a flat bread, chewier than naan

samosas

-a type of deep fired bread stuffed with vegetables or meat, a type of Indian dim sum

shroff

-a person or place that accepts payment, a cashier

tandoori

-a type of oven used to bake bread and roast meat

tiffin

-lunch

tikka

-roast meat that has been soaked in a sauce

vindaloo

-1. This sauce is made with various meats, chilli and potato. It is very spicy. Modern Indian meaning


-2. a Portuguese-Indian sauce from the city of Goa, in India. This sauce was made with pork, chilli, wine and garlic. It is moderately spicy. Original meaning

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by John Larrysson

JohnLarrysson@gmail.com

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for more than a decade.