Many English words have their origin in Indian languages. Probably because the English found themselves to be deficient in expressing many ideas and borrowed the words from the languages of the countries they went to.
Some of the common words of Hindi origin are bungalow, caravan, juggernaut (from Lord Jagannath in Puri, Orissa) , Raja and the most famous of them all (responsible for making hundreds of ordinary people millionaires in the US of A) yoga. There are even words, very famous ones at that, which have originated from Tamil like curry, Mulligatawny (Don’t ever get fooled by the presence of Mulligatawny soup on the menu, it is just Plain Rasam!), Catamaran and Coolie.
Few days back, I was watching the movie Umrao Jaan, the new one starring Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan. Contrary to the reviews of the various movie channels, the movie was pretty ok and watchable. The plot happens in and around Lucknow. Though i can understand Hindi pretty well, i had to rewind and switch on the sub-titles at many places to understand the dialect spoken which, i assume, had lot of Urdu in it.
When the English reached these parts of India, they must have been amused by the local language and would definitely have been inspired to borrow words and phrases. One such interesting word, which featured in the movie a lot was “Ammi”. This word was used by Ameeran to refer to her mother. The English fell in love with this word and wanted it to take it back to Britain with them.
But, they had a problem. A minor variation of it, Amy, was a common name in Britain. So, they couldn’t take back the word as such. So, they had to innovate. One smart English officer called Lt. Ayma Moron suggested that they use this word in Britain for the same meaning i.e mother, but they add a letter in the front and change the word a bit. So, a group of them got together and started trying out the various combinations. After breaking their heads a lot, they decided on using the letter M and to “anglicize” the word “ammi” as “mummy”.
There you go, all you lucknow people, feel proud that the word mummy has its origins in your very own ammi!