a kedgeree of knowledge

Just back from a three day trip to Lucca — more later — to find SpamAssassin outmanoevred again — 440 spams on the server; 220 made it down to my spam folder. One of those was legitimate. But the number of spams I had got was smaller than the 500 or so entries on bloglines, which are all things I thought, when I left, I might have an interest in. At least one of them was in fact interesting: the unfailingly wonderful Juan Cole explains why Urdu is the language that my mother, and her mother, called Hindustani, and how it got the name:

the national language of Pakistan is Urdu, which was the Muslim lingua franca in Muslim South Asia from the 18th century, and is a Persianized form of what we would now call Hindi. It is taught in schools and spoken alongside the regional languages, though the elite of the country still prefers English and often speaks halting Urdu. Again, it is Indo-European but with a large dose of Arabic, Semitic vocabulary. It is in fact a lot like a Muslim Yiddish. (Historically, “Hindi” is actually a result of a movement of Hindu nationalists to “purify” what was then called Hindustani of the Arabic and Persian words. The Muslims kept the words, and Hindustani came to be called Urdu. Urdu is a Mongolian and Turkish word meaning “military camp” and is the root of the English word “horde.” When the Central Asian tribal warriors came into northern India, Urdu is the creole that ended up being spoken in the camps so that Hindu traders could sell the Muslim grandees their goods).

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