Hobson-Jobson is a unique work of maverick scholarship. Compiled in 1886 by two India enthusiasts, it documents the words and phrases that entered English from Arabic, Persian, Indian, and Chinese sources - and vice versa. Described by Salman Rushdie as 'the legendary dictionary of British India' it shows how words of Indian origin were absorbed into the English language and records not only the vocabulary but the culture of the Raj. It encompasses aspects of the history, trade, peoples, and geography of Asia in entries that are at once authoritative and playful. Like the Oxford English Dictionary, Hobson-Jobson included illustrative quotations that were drawn from a wide range of travel texts, histories, memoirs, and novels, creating a canon of English writing about India. The definitions frequently slip into anecdote, reminiscence, and digression, and they offer intriguing insights into Victorian attitudes to India and its people and customs.
With its delight in language, etymology, and puns, Hobson-Jobson has fascinated generations of writers from Rudyard Kipling to Tom Stoppard and Amitav Ghosh. This selected edition retains the range and idiosyncrasy of the original, and Kate Teltscher's introduction and notes provide fascinating information on the glossary's creation, and its significance for the English language.