A much tortured expression: A new look at 'Hobson-Jobson'

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Since Yule and Burnell's first edition of their glossary of Anglo-Indian English in 1886, the term 'Hobson-Jobson' has been part of the English language. It was already an established Anglo-Indian English word, but was given a new life, and new meanings, by Yule and Burnell. Accounts of the word in both lexicography and popular works are still almost entirely based on an uncritical replication of the information provided by Yule and Burnell. That information was incomplete and involved some inaccuracies that warrant elucidation. This paper is based on a collection of citations of the term 'Hobson-Jobson' and related terms, and a detailed review of how the word has been recorded in dictionaries. This new evidence allows a detailed delineation of the meanings the term has had over time, and also reveals a more precise rendering of the etymology, one which illuminates a less positive side to this popular term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-88
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Lexicography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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