East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



Sir Henry Yule was a Scottish gentleman and an army man who – among other things – translated in English Il Milione, Marco Polo’s travelogue and indispensable Silk Road narrative.
Arthur Coke Burnell (yes, his middle name was really Coke) was an expert in the Sanskrit language, but he was also handy with Tibetan, Arabic, Kawi, Javanese and Coptic.5746976-M A well-rounded scholar, so to speak.

These two fine gentlemen got together and in 1886 published a wonderful book which is called Hobson-Jobson or, to be more precise and wonderfully Victorian, Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive.
And no kidding.

So, yes, the Hobson-Jobson had nothing to do with any gentleman ever named Hobson, or, for that matter, Jobson.
Sure, a guy called William Crooke also did some later work on it, but no Jobsons, or Hobsons, at all.
What gives? Continue reading