Duncan Forbes’ A Smaller Hindustani and English Dictionary

Following up on the theme of dictionaries from my last post, here is another one. This is Duncan Forbes’ A smaller Hindustani and English Dictionary. It was produced in 1861, about forty years after Shakespear’s dictionary. It does away with problem of multi-script typesetting completely, and is printed entirely in the Latin alphabet. This decision comes with a disclaimer from the author, who writes, ‘It is needless for me to remark that the work is not intended to supersede the Oriental character, a knowledge of which must be ultimately attained by all those who mean to distinguish themselves in Her Majesty’s Indian Service.’

This dictionary also highlights the origin of every word, and distinguishes them as Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Tartarian and Greek, as well as “aboriginal or purely Indian” and those peculiar to Dakhani or to the Deccan.

What I found most interesting are the contractions used to create compound verbs. The system is explained in the preface—

… following contractions are used in the formation of compound words: k, for karnā, “to make;” h, for hōna, “to be, to become;” j for jānā, “to go, to be;” r, for rakhnā, “to keep, to have;” d, for denā, “to give;” l, for lenā, “to take;” , for ḍalnā, “to throw” and b, for bāndhanā, “to bind.”

See them in use in the second entry in the image below.

The same system of compound word formation, in abbreviated form, is also used in the vocabulary section of Eastwick’s A Concise Grammar of Hindustani, which was published three years previously.

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