It’s hard to believe that the all-natural body art form, henna, has so many names. Of course most of us already know the words henna, mehndi (and all of its spellings), but have you ever heard Egyptian Privet? Or how about Mayilangi? Take a journey with me through over 30 languages and how they say the word “henna”. It’s eye-opening and a lot of fun!
From the country that gave us Shakespeare and The Beatles, and visual artists including John William Waterhouse, Thomas Gainsborough, and John Everett Millais, we also gain several words used to express the word henna. With England having more than 9 languages represented across the country, it’s no wonder there are so many ways to say henna in English.
Camphire, Cypress Shrub, Egyptian Privet, Henna Plant, Jamaica Mignonette, Mindie, and Tree Mignonette.
Hindi is the official language of the Union of India and is a direct descendant of Sanskrit. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portuguese and English. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. More than 180 million people in India consider Hindi to be their native language and another 300 million use Hindi as a second language. Outside of India, there are Hindi speakers in the United States, Mauritius, South Africa, Yemen, Uganda, Singapore, Nepal, New Zealand, and Germany. There are nine dialects of Hindi but only three ways to say henna in Hindi.
Henna, Mehndi, and Mhindi
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by Marathi people of Maharashtra. It is the official language in Maharashtra and Goa states in Western India. There are 73 million native speakers of Marathi and two dialects. With these, we get five more ways to say henna from India.
Mendhi, Mendi, Malayalam, Mayilanji, and Pontalasi.
Sanskrit is the classical language of India and the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is also one of the 22 official languages of India. The name Sanskrit means refined, consecrated and sanctified. Sanskrit is where we get a whopping thirteen more ways to say henna from India!
Dvivranta, Kokadanta, Medika, Mendhika, Nakkaranjaka, Nakaranjani, Ragagarbha, Ragangi, Ranjaka, Sahshara, Sugandhapushpa, Timira, and Yavaneshta
Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka. It is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry. It is also an official language in Sri Lanka and Singapore and has large numbers of Tamil speakers in Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji, and South Africa. There are 70 million native speakers of Tamil. We get nine more ways to say henna from the Tamil language.
Aivanam, Aivana, Korandam, Kurandagam, Kurinji, Pidai, Ponninpuvalamarudondri, Marudondri, and Mayilainandi.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and an official language of six states of India. Urdu is historically associated with the Muslims of the region of Hindustan. Apart from a specialized vocabulary, Urdu is also understood by Hindi speakers as the two languages are close enough for speakers of both languages to understand. 65 million people speak Urdu as a first language.
Uriya is also known as Oriya and is now called Odia and currently referred to as Orissa in English. The Odia language is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by approximately 33 million people, mainly in the Indian state of Odisha. It is also spoken in West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Gujarat. Odia is closely related to Bengali and Assamese. The earliest known inscription in the Odia language dates from 1051. Interestingly, all of the consonants have an inherent vowel, meaning that there are several ways to write out each consonant. Can you imagine having to learn 5 ways to write the letter “k”? WOW!
Mehendi, Mendi, Monjuati, Olota, Rongota
The Semitic language of the Arabs throughout the Middle East and North Africa is Arabic. It is spoken by over 150 million people. Arabic is closely related to Aramaic, Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Phoenician. Some of the spoken varieties of Arabic are so vastly different that native speakers of each spoken variety cannot understand each other easily or without learning the other spoken varieties. If all varieties of Arabic were considered a single language, there would be 422 million speakers (native and non-native) making it the one of the six most spoken languages in the world.
Alhenna, Henna, Henneh, Hinna, Yoranna
Belguam originates from the city known as Belagavi in the Indian state of Karnataka. The government of Karnataka have considered making Belagavi the second capital of Karnataka. Belagavi has been selected in the first phase out of 20 cities as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city. A smart city is a city where urban development uses ICT (information and communication technology) solutions to manage a city’s assets, collect real-time data from the citizens, and improve the daily life of those citizens. Belgavi’s nicknames include Kunda Nagar, Cradle of Infantry, and the Sugar Bowl of Karnataka.
The Bhote or Bhoti language is also called Ladakhi. It is a Tibetan language but it is not mutually intelligible with standard Tibetan. It is predominantly spoken in the Leh district of Ladakh. There are only approximately 12,000 speakers of the language in Tibet, however there are about 100,000 speakers of the language in India. In addition to being spoken in China and India, it is spoken by a small number of people in Pakistan. There are several dialects of Ladakhi. Most of the dialects lack tone, but the Stotskat and Uppder Ladakhi are tonal like Central Tibetan.
Cambodia’s official language is called Khmer. With a population of over 15 million, Cambodia is the 70th most populated country in the world. Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and the Gulf of Thailand coastline. It’s capital is Phnom Penh and is home to the art deco Central Market, the glittering Royal Palace, and the National Museum’s historical and archeological exhibits. The ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire is in the Northwest of the country. Neighboring countries include Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos.
Canarese, also known as Kannada or Kanarese, is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Kannada people in South India, mainly in the state of Karnataka (where the Belguam language is also spoken) and Goa. Dravidians are the aboriginal people of India. 38 million people are native speakers of Canarese. 11 million people speak Canarese as a second language. Old Canarese/Kannada flourished in the 6th-century Ganga dynasty and during the 9th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Canarese has an unbroken literary history of over a thousand years. (Wow!)
Goranta, Gorante, Goranthu, Korate, Mehndi, Mhendi
Chinese is a group of related but often mutually unintelligible language varieties. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many other ethnic groups in China. Nearly 1.2 billion people (around 16% of the world’s population) speak some form of Chinese as their first language. The varieties of Chinese are often referred to as dialects, although each variety carries is incredibly diverse and often not understood by native speakers of other varieties. There are 7 to 13 varieties of the Chinese language (depending on how they are categorized). The most spoken variety is Mandarin, followed by Wu, Yue, and Min. Standard Chinese is a form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. It is the official language of China and Taiwan as well as one of the four official languages of Singapore. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations – along with Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
Tche Kia Hoa
Considered the language of love, the French language descended from the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire (as did the Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, and Catalan languages). French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul (must be where it got it’s “language of love” title). Because of France’s past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages. French is the official language in 29 countries. It is spoken as a first language in France, southern Belgium, western Switzerland, Monaco, certain parts of Canada and the United States, and by various communities elsewhere. 40% of French speaking people are in Europe, 35% in the sub-Saharan, 15% in North Africa, and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. French is the fourth most widely spoken language in the European Union. There are 220 million total French speakers.
Alcana D’orient, Alkanna d’Avicenne, Alkanna d’Orient, Henné, Racine á farder, Thomarhendi d’Avicenne, Troene d’Egypte
French Guiana is an overseas region of France on the northeast coast of South America. It is composed of mostly tropical rainforest. The ruins of the 17th century Fort Cépérou overlook the capital, Cayenne, with its colorful Creole houses and street markets. Shops and cafes surround the palm-filled main square, Place des Palmistes, while the Remire-Montjoly suburb offers beaches on the Atlantic coast. This area was originally inhabited by Native Americans, and later colonized by Frenchmen and other Europeans who introduced African slaves and later Asian laborers along with Hmong refugees from Laos. The official language is French, but each ethnic community has its own language, of which French Guianese Creole is most widely spoken. French Guiana has only been part of France since 1946 (60 years).
Réséda de cayenne
Greek or Hellenic is a part of the Indo-European family of languages. It has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. It’s writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history and was the basis of Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic and many other writing systems. The Greek language holds an important place in history in Europe and the Western world. Ancient Greek literature includes important works such as the epic poems The Illiad and The Odyssey. Greek was also the language used in many foundational texts such as the Platonic dialogues, the works of Aristotle, and the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Greek was the official language of the Byzantine Empire and is currently the official language in two countries, Greece and Cyprus. The language is spoken by at least 13 million people today. Makes me wonder where the phrase “It’s all Greek to me!” came from.
Hausa is a Chadic language with about 39 million speakers (whoa). It is spoken mainly in Northern Nigeria and Niger but is also spoken in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Germany, Chana, Sudan, and Togo. Hausa is written with a version of the Arabic script known as “ajami”. Most of the early writing in Hausa was Islamic poetry or writings on Islamic themes. Ajami is still used, mainly to write poetry, but also for newspapers and books. There is no standard spelling system in Hausa, so there are variations in spelling between writers. In the early 19th century, a Latin alphabet known as “book” began to be used and, up until the 1950s, both ajami and boko were used. Currently, the main alphabet for Hausa speakers is boko. Having looked at both alphabets, I personally think the ajami alphabet is more beautiful when written out, but the boko alphabet is more closely related to the English alphabet.
Hebrew is the traditional language of the Jewish people. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and includes 5 additional letters when khaf, mem, nun, pey, and tzade are the last letters of the word; they are also written differently then. Unlike English, Hebrew is read and written from right to left. The earliest Hebrew texts date from the end of the second millennium BCE. Hebrew was used as written and verbal language until the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. After that, it was primarily used as a literary and liturgical language. The majority of the Bible is written in Hebrew and also the Mishnah (Jewish law). Because it is the language of sacred texts, Hebrew is often considered a sacred language. It was thought to be the language of angels and of God.
From the varied and turbulent history of French Indochina, three national languages have emerged: Anna-mese (over 15 million speakers in Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina), Khmer (about 2 million speakers in Cambodia), and Lao (about 1 million speakers on Laos). Indochina is the area in in Southeast Asia referred to the continental portion of Southeast Asia (east of India and south of China). The name comes from the French combination of the two names India and China to refer to the territory between those two countries. The countries in Southeast Asia have varying levels of influence from India and China. For example, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia are heavily influenced by India and have a smaller influence from China. Vietnam on the other hand, has a larger influence from China and a small influence from India. The area has been under both French and British colonial rule from the 19th century into the mid-20th century.
Chi Gaip, Hoa, Khao Thien, Kao Yousak, Kok Khao, Krapin Kupin Tue, Mong Tay, Mong Tay Nhuom
Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages. It is spoken on the Western Coast of India. Konkani has elements of both western and eastern languages because of its Indo-Aryan origin. There are 7.4 million native speakers and it is the official language in Goa. It is also spoken in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman, and Dui. There are also some speakers of Konkani in the United States, United Kingdom, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan, Persian Gulf, and Portugal.
The Lambadi language is also called Banjar and Goar-boali. It is a language spoken by nomadic Banjara people across India and it belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages. The language does not have a recorded history but there are 6 million native speakers in the world today. It is native to India. It is classified as a developing language as it is still in flux and doesn’t have set rules.
The Las Bela language comes from the Lasbela, the coastal district of Balochistan province of Pakistan. Las Bela is also referred to as Lasbela and Balochi. The province was incorporated in 1955. The current majority of the population there speak either Lasi or Sindhi. Very few speak Balochi (aka Las Bela) any longer.
Malay is an Austronesian language spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand. There are approximately 18 million speakers of the Malay language. There are also about 170 million people who speak Indonesian (a form of Malay). The earliest texts of Malay date from 683 AD, from the time of the kingdom of Srivijaya. When Islam arrived in southeast Asia during the 14th century, the Arabic script was adapted to write the Malay language. In the 17th century under the influence of the Dutch and British, the Arabic script was replaced by the Latin alphabet.
Mundari is a Munda language of the Austroasiatic language family spoken by the Munda tribal people in East India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. It is closely related to Santali. There are 1.6 million native speakers. In the India states of Bihar and Jharkhand and in Nepal, the Devanagari script is used. Christian speakers of Mundari in northeastern states of India write it with a Latin alphabet. In the Indian state of Orissa, it is written with the Odia alphabet.
Bind, Bindi, Mindi
Persian is a southwestern Iranian language. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, as well as other regions historically under Persian influence. In Afghanistan it is known as Dari since 1958 for political reasons and in Tajikistan, it is known as Tajiki since the Soviet era, also for political reasons. Persian is a pluricentric language and its grammar is similar to that of many contemporary European languages. There are about 110 million Persian speakers worldwide. For centuries, Persian has been a prestigious cultural language in other regions of Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia by the various empires based in the regions. The Persian language has had an influence on Turkic, Armenian, Georgian, and Urdu languages. It also has some influence on Arabic languages, particularly Bahrani Arabic.
The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country in the Western Pacific, comprising of more than 7,000 islands (wow!). The language of the Philippines is Filipino and English. It’s sprawling capital, Manila, is famous for its waterfront promenade and centuries-old (yes hundreds of years) Chinatown. Approximately 28 million people speak Filipino as a first language and another 45 minion speak Filipino as a second language.
Cinamomo, Cinamomo Del Pais
Santal/Santali is the language in the Munda subfamily related to Ho and Mundari. It is spoken by approximately 6.2 million people in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Most Santali speakers live in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, and West Bengal. Santali remained an oral language until the 19th century. It was passed down generation to generation by word of mouth through history, stories, songs, etc.
Sinhalese was originally the language of the people from Northern India, now forming the majority of the population of Sri Lanka. It is also known as Sinhala. About 16 million people are native speakers of Sinhalese and it is also the second spoken language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese has its own writing system, the Sinhala alphabet, which is a descendant of the ancient Indiam Brahmi script. Sinhalese, along with Pali, played a major role in the development of the Theravada Buddhist literature.
The Spanish language or Español has 329 million native speakers, making it the second ranking language in terms of how many people speak it as their first language. It is slightly ahead of English (328 million) but far behind Chinese (1.2 billion). It is the fourth most widely spoken language (area covered) behind English (112 countries), French (60 countries) and Arabic (57 countries). Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you know how the word is spelled, you can almost always know how it is pronounced. Spanish originated in the Iberian Peninsula as a descendant of Latin, however today it has far more speakers in Latin America. There are minor differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation between the Spanish of Spain and the Spanish of Latin America, but they are not so great as to prevent easy communication. After Latin, the second most influence on Spanish is the Arabic language. Modern Spanish is now also heavily influenced by English. Spanish speakers have adopted hundreds of English words related to technology and culture.
Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is also the language of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of Southeast Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Somewhere between 5 and 15 million people are native speakers of Swahili, but so many more people speak it as a second language that it brings that number to somewhere between 60 and 150 million people who can speak the language. A significant portion of the Swahili vocabulary is derived from Arabic through contact with Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants of the Swahili Coast. It has also incorporated German, Portuguese, English, Hindustani, and French words into its vocabulary through contact with empire builders, traders, and slaves during the past five centuries.
Teluga or Telugu language is a Dravidian language native to India. It is spoken by 75 million people mainly in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where it is the official language. There are more Telugu speakers in India than there are people who speak French as a first language. There are also many Telugu communities in Myanmar. It has also been spoken in Malaysia and Mauritania.
Goranta, Gorata, Goring, Krommi, Kuravakamu, Maida, Pschapeddagoranta
Tulu is a language spoken by somewhere between 3 and 5 million native speakers, mainly in the southwest part of the Indian state of Karnataka as well as a small part of northern Kerala. There are also some speakers in Maharashtra and in the Gulf countries. Tulu speakers use the Kannada alphabet for most uses and the Tigalari alphabet in religious writings. Non-native speakers of the language include the Mangalorean Catholics, Gowda Saraswath Brahmins, Karhade Brahmins, Havyaka Brahmins, Daivajnas, and the Beary people in Tulu Nadu.
Woloff is a Senegambian branch of the Niger-Congo language family. There are about 7 million speakers in Senegal, France, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. Unlike most other languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, Woloff is not a tonal language. It is the most widely spoken language in Senegal, by about 40% of their population and by most of the other 60% as a second language. Dialects vary geographically. Dakar-Wolof, for example, is an urban mixture of Wolof, French, and Arabic.
I hope you enjoyed taking this linguistic journey with me. So many fun ways to say henna! What is your favorite word for henna? Add it to the comments!
Blog Written By: Blume Bauer, www.blumebauer.com
Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.com
Colorado State University – www.cs.colostate.edu
Encyclopedia Britannica – www.britannica.com
Omniglot – www.omniglot.com
My Jewish Learning – www.myjeweishlearning.com
JSTOR – www.jstor.org
Ethnologue – www.ethnologue.com
Quora – www.quora.com