Yo Say José

One of the activities that some Shi’ah participate in during Muharram is to chant “Ya Hasan! Ya Husayn!” “Oh Hasan! Oh Husayn!” These were the Prophet’s (PBUH) grandsons, both of whom were assassinated.

When the British came to South Asia they heard “Hobson-Jobson” and thus was born the Anglo-Indian Dictionary. Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary of all the words that have entered English from South Asia. The list is quite entertaining and exhaustive. There has been an attempt to supplement it with some of the words that have gained currency in the 20th century in a book called Sahibs, Nabobs and Boxwallahs which is good, but not as much fun as the original.

I first read the story of this dictionary in Salman Rushdie’s Imaginary Homelands, but of course didn’t write down the full citation. It lives on the web I’m sure.

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