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Similarities between Hindi/Punjabi and Spanish
Thread poster: yolanda Speece

yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 5, 2004

The other day, I was watching "Goodness Gracious Me" a Indian-English Sketch Comedy show which sometimes runs on the BBC. I noticed so many similarities between the cultures and I thought there may be linguistic similarities as well. Are there words in the Spanish language which are Indian Influenced? Does anyone know where I can go to find out?


Javier Herrera (X)
A few Aug 5, 2004

A two-gender noun system, simple as opposed to very complicated conjugations. A free word order, at least more free than in English. Some words of the textile industry are similar: 'cachemira' (Kashmir)is a kind of tissue in Spanish. Indians use the Spanish word 'camisa', and I vaguely remember there are a few more. I know because once I taught Spanish to an Hindi-speaker, I don't know anything about Punjabi.
BTW, what cultural similarities are those?


Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:41
German to Spanish
camisa is Portuguese Aug 5, 2004

Javier Herrera wrote:

Indians use the Spanish word 'camisa', and I vaguely remember there are a few more. I know because once I taught Spanish to an Hindi-speaker, I don't know anything about Punjabi.
BTW, what cultural similarities are those?

A part of India was portuguese colony (Goa)

I do not believe that there is a linguistic influence aside from the common roots from sanscrit, like father (Pater, padre, Vater,père)
The gypsys came from India so the music and dance is similar, but nothing more...I think




Javier Herrera (X)
And I forgot the most amazing thing... Aug 5, 2004

Numbers from one to ten sound pretty much the same. If you have the Encarta Enciclopedia, you'll see. I remember I listened to Urdu ones (not sure about Hindi).
Congratulations, we've just discovered the existence of the Indoeuropean family.


Javier Herrera (X)
It's still amazing Aug 5, 2004

Toledo wrote:

I do not believe that there is a linguistic influence aside from the common roots from sanscrit, like father (Pater, padre, Vater,père)

The similarities are very few but they're still there after 1,800(?) years. Latin and Sanskrit had very similar grammars (six/seven cases and three genders)and they both evolved into a simplified noun system (only two cases in Hindi) with two genders without any cultural exchange.
I heard somewhere Spanish and Urdu have some similar vocabulary due to Arabic influence.


Javier Herrera (X)
Gypsy words in Peninsular Spanish Aug 5, 2004

Toledo wrote:

The gypsys came from India so the music and dance is similar, but nothing more...I think


Molar, to like, but with a different grammatical structure, we spoke of this already. Colloquial.
Camelar, to cajole somebody, ultimately from Indoeuropean, same origin as the English word 'whore'.Colloquial.
El/la menda. Extremely colloquial for 'I' or 'me'.
Does anybody know the Hindi equivalents?


yolanda Speece  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
This seems so fascinating and I appreciate all your input. Aug 5, 2004

Does anyone know of any books or texts where I can find these similarities?


Javier Herrera (X)
Spanish Aug 5, 2004

There's an index by language. Some times it's helped me find a lot of information about what a language is like without learning it. It's got lots of rubbish but you may find something interesting.


Lakshmi Iyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:41
Italian to English
+ ...
Interesting question! Aug 5, 2004

Don't know of any books comparing this particular pair, unfortunately. Is there such a thing as an etymological Spanish dictionary? That might help you trace Spanish words back to a possible Sanskrit origin. I imagine the similiarities basically exist at the Indo-European level, between Sanskrit and Latin from which Hindi/Punjabi and Spanish respectively derive. I would also guess the Arab influence in Spain brought in some words (modern Hindustani, a mix of Hindi and Urdu, frequently uses words of Arabic and Persian origin). I do know, for instance, that the Moors picked up the Sanskrit word "naranj" meaning orange and transformed it to "naranjah" which of course became "naranja" in Spanish.
It's obviously far easier to trace more recent similarities (between English and German, for instance) or word-transfer during colonisation (e.g. English contains several words of Hindi origin, such as "verandah" or "jodhpurs"). Spain had no links to India (apart from Francis Xavier, who however represented the King of Portugal's missionary interests).
Your best bet might be to post a message on a linguistics forum to see if this language pair has been studied. Good luck!

[Edited at 2004-10-21 19:10]


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
German to English
+ ...
Right about the Indoeuropean thing... Aug 5, 2004

I also see similarities with Latvian. For instance, the Latvian name "Indra" (f.) - Hindi "Indira" (f.), "Indra" (m.)
One of my daughters is named Zinta; there is an Indian actress named "Priety Zinta", etc. I sometimes get interesting looks from Indians here in the States when I tell them my kids' names.
I think it's the common Indoeuropean roots of the languages.


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:41
Spanish to English
The most obvious link Aug 5, 2004

The most obvious link is Arabic as the Iberian peninsula was an arab stronghold for 800 years and India has connection through the Moslems.

As far as I know camisa comes from Arabic, as do many other words in Spanish.

This is not in denial of any influence that Sanskit may have had, of course.


Jonathan Morris  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:41
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Spanish-Hindi links Aug 10, 2004

I agree that most cognates will either be loan-words (into Spanish mainly through Arabic or Portuguese, and into Urdu/Hindi mainly through Arabic and Persian) or words of common Indo-European origin (which will come through Latin/Greek/Germanic/Celtic).

You probably know 'Brinjal Bhajee' and 'Vindaloo' from your local Indian takeaway, but both are POrtuguese loanwords: brinjal < berinjela and vindaloo < vino d'alho. In the NE of Brazil we also have a rather revolting stew made from pig giblets called sarapatel, which I've seen in Goanese cookbooks as 'sorpotel', but I've never managed to work out who loaned what to whom.

You also have an interesting Spanish linguist - Francisco Vilar, who has done work on Spanish place-names, showing that some are undifferentiated Proto-Indoeuropean and similar to placenames in the Baltic(which is in turn similar to the Indo-Aryan languages).

Your 2 best sources are:

Meyer-Lübke - Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, or

the index of Mayrhofer's Concise Etymological Sanskrit Dictionary-pp. 282-83

I see specific references to the following Spanish words in my copy:
aljófar/añil/chacál/laca/maza/naranja/parámo/rabo/raposo - i.e. specifically Spanish words (rather than Spanish words inherited from Latin) that have Sanskrit entries.

I'm not an expert on Hindi grammar, but there do seem to be examples of parallel evolution between Italic and Indo-Aryan mother and daughter languages, e.g. Hindi has developed verb tenses with participles and auxiliary verbs.

[Edited at 2004-08-10 22:54]

[Edited at 2004-08-10 22:57]

[Edited at 2004-08-10 23:01]

[Edited at 2004-08-10 23:05]


Panjabi to English
Spanish-Punjabi links Jul 12, 2013

I am in the process of learning Spanish and I am a Punjabi speaker. I noticed lot of similarities.
The number count 1 to 10 is very similar to each other.

Que onda (what happened) ki honda in Punjabi
Que Huba is ki hove in punjabi with the H Sound
naranja Orange is also called Narangi in Punjabi

El jabon soap is sabun in Punjabi

Tu means you in punjabi too.

I am just at begginers level.


Dance connections Aug 3, 2014

Just watching Spanish dancing on TV....was struck by similiarities to Indian ballet steps.....fascinating surely these cultural connections have been studies before ???


United States
Gum Oct 17, 2016

"Chicle" is Spanish for gum. In Urdu small squares of gum are sometimes called "chiklets"

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