Today’s linguistic trivia: According to the “NB” column in the  Times Literary Supplement  (in the May 24th issue, not available online), the phrase “I don’t give a damn” ought to be “I don’t give a dam.” The dam is an Indian copper coin with the value of one-fortieth of a rupee. This certainly makes more sense.

The writer (“J.C.”) has taken this from  Hobson-Jobson , a book published in 1886 which claimed to be the “definitive glossary of British India.” Other now common words of Indian or British-Indian origin are toddy, gingham, verandah, chatting, gymkhana, loot, bungalow, pagaoda, typhoon, chintz, jungle, dinghy, and cutter.

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