Thomas’s first and firmest conviction is that he is a profound Orientalist and a fluent speaker of Hindustani.
October 7, 2011 6:09 PM   Subscribe

[Hindi filter] "Kiko kissywarsti don't you hamsher argy jow?"

In Kipling's poem "Route Marchin'", the speaker, an English soldier marching through India, repeats this strange line: "Kiko kissywarsti don't you hamsher argy jow?". Kipling's note translates the line as "Why don't you get on?"; of course, part of the point is that the soldier-speaker isn't as good at Hindi as he pretends to be. But -- how far off was the soldier-speaker? I don't speak Hindi -- does anyone know what Kipling's ballad soldier might have been trying to say?
posted by monkeymonkey to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In decreasing order of certainty, my guess for what he's saying is:

argy jow = agey jao, "go ahead" or "get on"
hamsher = hamesha, "always"
Kiko = kayeko, "why"
kissywarsti = kis wastey, "for what reason" (a more emphatic "why")

So the whole thing roughly means "Why, for what reason, don't you always get on". Using "always" instead of "never" is the mark of a profound Orientalist, of course.
posted by shazzam at 8:01 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would agree with shazzam's translations, other than the quibble that it's "not always" for "never". Two additional points:

a) the Rs are pronounced in the British way, i.e. they're silent.
b) 'Kayeko' and 'kis wastey' are from different dialects. So it's not just Hindi, but a hodgepodge of Indian colloquialisms.
posted by bardophile at 4:11 AM on October 8, 2011

You two are amazing. Thank you so much.
posted by monkeymonkey at 6:08 AM on October 8, 2011

Yeah, thanks from me as well. The initial phrase was so garbled I was going to post suggesting it wasn't even Hindi to begin with, just random gibberish.
posted by Tamanna at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2011

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