Some Similarities in Languages


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

India and France do not now have any commonalities in politics, cuisine or social behaviour, but in language one occasionally finds strange relationships. England had colonised India for 200 years and its impact is visible in diverse fields — politics, books, ways of dress (for men), western type dancing, linguistics, etc.

Like Portugal, France had also colonised parts of India. Portugal had colonised some regions on the west coast–particularly Goa. France had a small colony in India — in Pondicherry and surroundings. When India became free of the British yoke in 1947, there was a similar pressure on the Portuguese regions which they were forced to vacate in 1961. France also soon went away from Pondicherry after India won independence from the Great Britain.

Incidentally, hundreds of words from Farsi (Iranian language) have become common in Hindi — many of us do not realise this while speaking Hindi; even many Hindi films show characters speaking these words, especially in the songs that are common currency in these films. But strangely, one finds some commonalities between Hindi and French which I shall try to highlight here.

The Farsi spoken in Iran has many French expressions like Merci Beaucoup, Bon Jour, Au Revoir, among others, which Iranians use while speaking to each other.

No surprise that a few such expressions are becoming a little common in Hindi like avenue, path.

Another similarity is the names of the week in French. Starting from Monday, French words are: Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi, Samedi, Dimanche (Sunday).

In Hindi the days of the week starting from Monday are: Somvaar, Mangalvaar, Budhvaar, Veervar, Shukravaar, Shanivaar, Ravivaar

These refer to the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sun, just like the French words do.

The Hindi and French names refer to the Moon, planets and lastly the Sun.

The words in English do not have this correspondence except for the first and the last days — Monday (Moon) and lastly Sunday (Sun).

What words — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, refer to is not clear, at least to me. Perhaps, Saturday refers to the planet Saturn.

We see that Hindi words refer to different planets; we may also note that there are ancient institutions in the Indian cities of Delhi and Jaipur that can predict when lunar or solar eclipses occur. This and other factors indicate a close relationship between language and elementary science in India.

We need not be disturbed that India is not well known for modern science and technology (S&T) although the Indian government is pushing forward in this direction also.

Let us see what new areas in S & T emerge in the future.


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Feb 2023.

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