Manchester Crown Court has been the scene this week of the trial of a man accused of forcing two boys under the age of 16 to flog themselves with an adult-size zanjeer, a whip with blades attached. The incident took place earlier this year during the Islamic month of Muharram, when a group of Shia Muslims gathered to commemorate Ashura, the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Husayn in battle in AD680.
This is the event which gave rise to the term Hobson-Jobson, which forms the title of a wonderful dictionary of Anglo-Indian words and phrases, published in the 1880s by Colonel Sir Henry Yule and AC Burnell. Hobson-Jobson was an expression coined by the rank-and-file British soldiers in colonial India and was, according to Yule and Burnell's dictionary, 'an Anglo-Saxon version of the wailings of the Mahommedans as they beat their breasts in the procession of the Moharram - "Ya Hasan! Ya Hosein!"'
Hobson-Jobson then became the generic term for the process of anglicising foreign words. This is Chambers Dictionary's definition: 'the modification of names and words introduced from foreign languages, which the popular ear assimilates to already familiar sound (sic)'. Yule and Burnell's dictionary contains lots of examples of the Hobson-Jobson phenomenon, including juggernaut (from the Sanskrit Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe), gymkhana (probably from the Hindustani gend-khana, ball-house or racket court) and shampoo (from the Hindustani champna, to press or knead).
Other words in English which have undergone the Hobson-Jobson process include Jerusalem artichoke (from Italian girasole, sunflower), plonk (cf French vin blanc) and woodchuck (from the Cree name for this animal, wuchak or otchock).