The Origin Of A Few Words
3 minutes • 504 words
God: God is a combination of three letters: g, o, and d. G stands for “generator”, o for “operator” and d for “destructor"2
Jeep: Originally this vehicle was called a general-purpose car (G.P. car for short). Later on it became a G.P., and finally became known as a jeep.
OK: Once there was a major battle on American soil. Most of the soldiers were Spanish-speaking. Not being well-acquainted with English, in expressing that they were in good condition they wrote oll korrect instead of all correct.
OK is the shortened form of oll korrect.
News: News is a combination of four letters: n,e,w, and s: signifying “that which comes from four directions – north, east, west and south”.
Lichi and peach: The lichi and the peach were originally Chinese wild fruits.
More palatable varieties were developed by the Chinese horticulturalists, Mr. Li Chi and Mr. Pee Si, after whom the fruits were named.
Owl and mango: A certain English gentleman called Mr. Ricecurry came to India as an employee of the East India Company. He and his wife were responsible for the adoption of a number of words into the English vocabulary.
It is said that one night Mrs. Ricecurry heard the hooting of owls for the first time. Somewhat distressed, she exclaimed, “How horrible! How horrible!” a number of times and then asked her maidservant, “Was that the growl of a Royal Bengal tiger?” “No, madame,” she replied, “that was the hooting of an ullu.” [Ullu is the Urdu word for “owl”.]
This word was mispronounced by Mrs. Ricecurry and found its way into the English language as owl.
One day a mango seller passed by the Ricecurry residence. Mrs. Ricecurry could not resist the temptation of buying the juicy fruit. She immediately called her [servant] and said, “Man, go! Go and call the fruit-seller!” The [servant] thought that his mistress was calling the fruit itself mango, and whenever the fruit-seller would come by would himself shout, “Mango! Mango!” Since then mango has been the recognized English [term for] the juicy Indian fruit.3
(1) In some cases, the illustrative origin. –Eds.
(2) The Supreme Entity is composed of three forces: the force that creates, or generates, the expressed universe out of the unexpressed Supreme Consciousness; the force that preserves and operates the universe; and the force that “destroys” the finite entities of the universe, i.e., that dissolves them back into formless consciousness. These three forces are often personified for figurative purposes. –Eds.
(3) The above passages on owl and mango are taken from “Pravacan 6” (“Speech 6”) of the author’s Varńa Vijiṋána (“The Science of Letters”), 1984. In that book the author prefaced these accounts with the remark, “Many people think that the English word mango came from the Tamil mángá. But that is not the case. In the Tagalog language of the Philippines a mango is also called mángá, but that does not mean that the English mango came from that word. The Philippines had no influence on the English language.” –Eds.