Help wanted in Srinagar

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KongishSinglish, Chinglish, Engrish, Konglish — none of them can beat Indian English:

In case you're wondering what "chowkidar" means, it's a Hindi word for "watchman, caretaker, gatekeeper; one who inhabits a 'chowki'  ('police station' or 'guard house')", as Wiktionary informs us.  It is also sometimes spelled as "chokedar" or "chokidar".

What I find most interesting about this help wanted ad is that the posted salary for the position of "chowkidar cum sweeper" is a thousand rupees greater than that for a "lecturer chemistry" who must have a M.Sc in chemistry.

[h.t. Geoff Wade]

[Update:  Here's some more Indian English that I'm not certain I fully understand]

"India once again ticks of China over South China Sea issue" (8/8/15)

Does "ticks of" mean the same thing as "ticks off"?

Maybe, but the use of "tickled" in the very first sentence of the article makes me wonder:

India has once again tickled China’s soft underbelly, the South China Sea, by taking a position at an international meet earlier this week that territorial disputes in South China Sea should be settled under the UN Convention.

Then, in the next sentence, we have reference to a "red rag", which I suspect means the same thing as "red flag", but I'm not sure:

The latest red rag from India to China has come about at the 5th East Asia Summit foreign ministers' Meeting in Kuala Lumpur wherein V K Singh, the junior foreign minister, reiterated the now well-known Indian position on the South China Sea dispute. Singh told the conference that territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means "as was done by India and Bangladesh recently using the mechanisms provided under UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea)".

The author is probably referring to the red cape or cloth used in bullfighting.


  1. David L said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

    The phrase "red rag to a bull" is common(ish) in British English.

    I would take 'tick of' to be a typo for 'tick off.'

    Tickling the underbelly is what you shouldn't do a sleeping tiger, or even a domestic cat, depending on its disposition.

  2. Linda said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

    The full saying is "a red rag to a bull" of something irritating or infuriating.

  3. Keith said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

    In British English, the phrase "like a red rag to a bull" is well known.

  4. mara said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

    Maybe the lecturer is part-time, perhaps an adjunct giving as few lectures as one per week, or per month.

  5. empty said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 3:22 pm

    I Like "Come along with your application …"

  6. David Morris said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

    Is the title 'Lecturer' usually given to senior secondary teachers in India, or anywhere else? In Australia, high school teachers are always 'teacher', though some of them may be subject heads.

  7. Vincent Daly said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

    Hindi "chowki" made it into (British) English as "chokey" = prison. Whether it survives I don't know.

  8. ngamudji said,

    August 8, 2015 @ 9:23 pm

    In Australian English, a "red rag" is a provocation.

  9. Reinhold {Rey} Aman said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 12:55 am

    Nobody is wondering what a "CUM SWEEPER" is?

  10. michael farris said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 12:55 am

    I'm surprised there are so many comments and no one has made any jokes about 'cum sweeper'…

    Don't tell me I need to go there on my own.

  11. John said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 2:23 am

    Vincent Daly: In Roald Dahl's book Matilda, the evil headmistress punishes children by stuffing them into a tiny box that's barely big enough to stand in, called the chokey. I always thought that Dahl made up the word!

  12. Michael Watts said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 3:41 am

    Reinhold {Rey} Aman:

    You've misparsed the phrase. They're advertising for a "chowdikar cum sweeper" — the phrase coordinates "chowdikar" with "sweeper". "cum sweeper" is not a syntactic unit at any level.

    See the definition at — "used in (usually) hyphenated phrases to link nouns that describe a person or thing with two jobs, uses, etc." I've italicized it because, in my experience, this word cannot be used without italics. The ad people don't seem to realize that, but Merriam-Webster does; all of their examples italicize the word.

    In Hong Kong you can see trash cans (connected into one big unit of related receptacles) labeled "LITTER CUM RECYCLABLES COLLECTION BIN".

  13. Michael Watts said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 3:46 am

    Also, I share VHM's surprise that the offered salary for a gatekeeper with sweeping duties is higher than the salary for a chemistry lecturer. I guess the lesson here is "don't go for a graduate degree". ;)

  14. Michael Watts said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 4:31 am

    Actually, on closer inspection I've given the ad people too little credit. They've clearly acknowledged that the word cum has its own particular orthographic characteristics by writing "CHOWDIKAR CUM SWEEPER".

  15. Sidney Wood said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 4:56 am

    Tickling China's underbelly could be an allusion to trout tickling – you tickle the belly of a basking trout and suddenly snatch it out of the water. I've never tried it, or seen it done, so it probably sounds much easier than it really is. As easy as snatching an ocean from China.

  16. Nipo said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 6:51 am

    I got magna cum laude in English matriculation exam at my first try, and I got upset. Anyway, I consider the idea of using a Latin preposition in an otherwise English(?) text weird.

  17. CD said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

    "Cum" in the sense of "combined with" is part of Indian English.

    You would think Language Log commenters could handle the ideas of language variation and word origins.

  18. Adrian Bailey said,

    August 9, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

    "Cum" has been in regular use in British English in formal registers, in place names (e.g. Chorlton cum Hardy) and usages such as that seen on the Indian sign. While the word for semen was spelled "come" and not phoneticised this wasn't much remarked on.

  19. Yasr Bukhari said,

    August 10, 2015 @ 4:00 am

    The difference in pay is a result of multiple factors. One, class system ensures that teachers/lecturers won't be cleaning up after themselves or others, especially not as part of their job description. Two, general levels of poverty and low pay ensures that labor class workers will be working round the clock, possibly taking up multiple jobs to make ends meet. Three, MAs and MScs are a dime a dozen as there are countless institutes churning out Masters in various non-professional degrees. Many teachers boast of double or triple Masters' degrees. However, most importantly, the second job is really two jobs for one person, who will be a watchman in the morning and a sweeper in the evening. He's only getting paid Rs 4000 per job.

  20. JQ said,

    August 10, 2015 @ 2:33 pm

    @Michael Watts

    In case you haven't noticed, the HK government is late to the party (of updating their lexicon) and in the past 2 years has now replaced all the 'cum's on the bins with /s.

  21. Alex G said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 9:24 am

    @ David Morris: Lecturer is sometimes used in the UK for teachers in sixth-form colleges (schools for students from 16-18). It may be more common for vocational subjects, though.

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