Punjabi or Hindustani slurs on British?

Cohen, Signe cohens at MISSOURI.EDU
Fri Jan 20 20:12:38 UTC 2006

This may be a little far-fetched, but I'll throw the idea out there anyway: Could this term have become a swearword through tensions that arise in the encounter (and intermarriage?) bertween a patrilineal Indo-Aryan society and matrilineal tribes (Khasi, Garo, etc.), where the wife's brother would claim to have more authority over his sister than the sister's husband? 
Signe Cohen
University of Missouri-Columbia


From: Indology on behalf of Valerie J Roebuck
Sent: Fri 1/20/2006 8:24 AM
To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Punjabi or Hindustani slurs on British?

Does anybody actually know *why* brother-in-law (actually, wife's
brother) is a swearword?  I have heard different explanations: either
(1) that the speaker is implying that he has had sex with the
addressee's sister or (2) that such a relative is deemed to be a
nuisance because he is liable to turn up, stay for ages and eat all
your food, and you can't throw him out because he's family.
McGregor's Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary offers no explanation;
Hobson-Jobson seems to hint at the former one.

Valerie J Roebuck
Manchester, UK

At 7:48 pm -0500 12/1/06, Stella Sandahl wrote:
>Dear Allen,
>Your knowledge of Hindi "gros mots" is touchingly innocent! Of course the
>British and other enemies would have been called saalaa/saalee (latter
>correct vocative, lit. 'brother-in-law'), haraamzaade kahiiM kaa (bastard
>from God knows where), bahinchod or maaMchod (sister resp. mother-fucker),
>laundebaaz ( bugger). Dafaa ho! "bugger off!
>This is all I can think of   for the time being, but there are tons of slurs
>out there. Hindi and Panjabi are very rich languages!
>Professor Stella Sandahl
>Department of East Asian Studies
>University of Toronto
>130 St. George Street, Room 14087
>Toronto, ON M5S 3H1
>Phone: (416) 978-4295
>Fax: (416) 978-5711
>stella.sandahl at utoronto.ca
>on 01/11/2006 17:20,     Allen W Thrasher at athr at LOC.GOV wrote:
>>  A film-maker is doing a film on the Komagatu Maru incident (the turning back
>>  of a ship of Indian immigrant farm workers from Vancouver, BC in 1914).  She
>>  needs to know what slurs, slang, or derogatory words the Indians involved
>>  would have applied to the  British or to the employees of the Immigration
>>  offices.  I already suggested Ferenghi and Gora (log), but does anyone know
>>  any others?
>>  Thanks,
>>  Allen Thrasher

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