English at its base is a Germanic language, which has borrowed a huge amount of its vocab from French, due to the Norman conquests a millenia ago. But other languages have added much to the rich tapestry that we know as the English language; Arabic, for one (a post I will write another day). But the British colonial occupation of the Indian subcontinent also gave us a host of words. Some, like curry, are still associated with their place of origin, but others like thug and verandah are no longer thought of as being "exotic" in nature.
HINDI / URDU WORDS
Hindi and Urdu are dialects of the same language, with Urdu spoken in Pakistan and having significant influence from Persian and Arabic. Hindi is the dominant language of Northern India and is common as a second language throughout the rest of India as well. Thus, English colonists borrowed more from Hindi and Urdu than the other Indian languages.
bungalow (originally meaning a house in the Bengali style)
chutney (chatni = to crush)
juggernaut (named after the giant chariot of the god Jagannath)
mugger (magar = crocodile)
pundit (pandit = priest or scholar)
toddy (tari = juice of a palm tree)
Malayalam is the language of Kerala on the southern tip of India. Together with the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, these southern Indian kingdoms were historically important in trade with both East and West.
calico (originated in Calicut, in Kerala)
orange (naaranga. Entered English via Arabic naranj)
rice (arici. Entered English via Greek oryza)
ginger (inciver. Entered English via Greek zinziber)
Sanskrit is an ancient language, not spoken anymore outside of religious or academic contexts. Just as Latin evolved into Italian, French and Spanish, Sanskrit is the basis for most of the languages of Northern India today. Because of the trade links between ancient India and the rest of the ancient world, there are words in English that come indirectly from Sanskrit, via Europe or the Middle East.
jackal (srgala. Entered English via Turkish shagal)
candy (khanda = sugar. Entered English via Arabic qandi)
madarin (mentrin = minister, advisor. Entered English via Malay menteri)
musk (muska-s = testicle. Entered English via Greek or Latin)
sugar (sharkara. Entered English via Arabic sukkar)
aubergine (vatinganah. Entered English via Catalan alberginia, via Arabic al-badinjan)
INDIAN RELIGIOUS TERMS
The following words, Sanskrit in origin, have their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, but their use in English has taken on broader meanings.
zen (via Japanese, from Sanskrit dhyana)
See. Everything's Indian...
Like this? You may like:
How Muslim names evolve across the world
Pilaf, paella and pulao - how a rice dish conquered the world
It ain't easy being Sikh
So, who really invented noodles? China or Italy?
The Malaysian-Indian food experience