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India is also known as Bharat & Hindustan in the Indian Subcontinent.

The upcoming Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan movie is titled Thugs of Hindostan. It is set in 1700 India under British rule. I was wondering why they misspelt Hindustan.

It's not like they could get in any legal trouble using the name of an actual place/country. Gangs of Wasseypur, which was a critical and popular hit, was also set in a real town in India with the same name. It could also not get into any political trouble as it is set in a British ruled India and is about the rebellion for freedom.

So why did the producers decided to misspell Hindustan as Hindostan. As far as I know and could search, India was never referred to as Hindostan in its history.

  • 3
    Why do you call it an error? Is there a well-accepted romanization for whatever language "Hindustan" comes from? (I don't know Indian languages well, so maybe there is, jw) – Azor Ahai Oct 1 '18 at 21:10
  • @AzorAhai Hindu is a person practicing the religion Hinduism. India is referred to as Hindustan as a place for/of Hindus. I know 3 indian languages, the most popular being Hindi, but until now I had never come across a different spelling of these words in any of the languages I know. As mentioned in the answers, spelling it in British English in those times makes sense now – KharoBangdo Oct 2 '18 at 3:00
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    Yes, I know that. But Hindi (if "Hindustan" is from Hindi) doesn't use Latin letters natively. So, any spelling is a transliteration. For example, Mandarin has Pinyin to transliterate to English. In the absence of a standard, any transliteration makes sense. I was asking if there was some standard you expected to be used where it was incorrect. – Azor Ahai Oct 2 '18 at 3:03
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    My point of reference was other Hindi films using the term. 'Raja Hindustani', 'Hindustan ki Kasam' & 'Hindustani'. All of which on their posters & screening displayed the name in English as I mentioned. But all these were set in 90's India. – KharoBangdo Oct 2 '18 at 3:14
  • Ah, okay, that's cool! I was just wondering – Azor Ahai Oct 2 '18 at 3:16
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There are two reasons why Hindostan is spelt like this.

1. Historical reasons.

India had different names in the history. Its names include Bharat, Hindustan, Hindoostan, Hindostan etc., This movie is set in late 18th century when Europeans had visited India for trade. Mughals were ruling Indians by then and the name was Hindūstan (meaning the land of Hindus) but the spelling was not the same. There were variations for this name. It was written Hindostan, Hindoostan etc., to reflect the pronunciation of long o. But in this process, the pronunciation changed.

India was named like that by the British scholars and historians of that time.

From Wikipedia,

These dual meanings persisted with the arrival of Europeans. Rennel produced an atlas titled the Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan or the Mogul Empire in 1792, which was in fact a map of the Indian subcontinent. Rennel thus conflated the three notions, 'India', 'Hindustan' and the Mughal Empire. J. Bernoulli, to whom Hindustan meant the Mughal Empire, called his French translation Lar Carte generale de l'Inde (General Map of India)

There were books published by authors using these names.

The Complete Hindoo Pantheon, Comprising the Principal Deities Worshipped by the Natives of British India Throughout Hindoostan (1842) was one such book. So, this name Hindostan was one of the variations of the name Hindūstan. So, it is a type of changing the original word. They did it for many places. For example, a town in the state Andhra Pradesh, India was originally called "Raja Mahendri" and it was changed to Rajahmundry by the British.

2. Indication of the emblem of Thugs (the rebellion group)

If you observe the poster and the trailer of the film Thugs of Hindostan, one thing is clear. The movie is about a rebellion group led by Khudabaksh (Amitabh Bachchan) and the East India Company. The rebellion is referred to as thugs. There is a special way of writing the film name on the posture. There is a logo of an Eagle in place of 'O'. This is the emblem of the rebellion group or the thugs. This eagle is seen in many places in the trailer. Such instances are below at 0:29 and at 3:10 when the name is shown in the trailer.

Eagle emblem shown in the trailer

Thugs of Hindustan Title from Trailer

In the film, Amitabh Bachchan is the leader of the rebellion. He has an Eagle as his pet. So, I think this is chosen as the emblem of the group and has an importance in the film.

The film posture is below showing Amitabh Bachchan.

Amitabh Bachchan as Khudabaksh

Eagle is shown in the image and also the logo of an Eagle in the place of 'O'.

Hence, it is shown to indicate the emblem of rebellion group Thugs of Hindostan

So, these are the two reasons why Hindostan is spelt that way.

  • The basic issue was that the pronunciation of both vowels and consonants the indigenous languages did not correspond to the sounds in European languages, and in any case the pronunciation varied from place to place. Exactly the same thing applied to Arabic, where English writers used spellings like Mohammad, or Muhammed, and even Mahomet. We have now defined (arbitrary!) standard rules for transliteration, but pronunciation still doesn't follow standards even in English - I say tomahto, you say tomayto, and there are many more subtle differences as well as the obvious ones. – alephzero Oct 3 '18 at 11:46
  • … For example, some Indian languages differentiate four different sounds associated with the western letter "d", and four more with "t" - but in some dialects of English there is only one sound for both "d" and "t", not eight different ones! Even if you ignore speech and only consider written texts, transliterating an alphabet with more than 50 letters into one with only 26 is inevitably a compromise. – alephzero Oct 3 '18 at 11:52
16

Unfortunately, Wikipedia indicates that, at least for a short time, it WAS known as Hindostan as evidenced by this 1864 image map.

enter image description here

Indeed, earlier spellings included Hindoostan!

Unfortunately, this spelling inconsistency or geographical error was not uncommon in British history.

Rennel produced an atlas titled the Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan or the Mogul Empire in 1792, which was in fact a map of the Indian subcontinent. Rennel thus conflated the three notions, 'India', 'Hindustan' and the Mughal Empire.

Wikipedia

One assumes that the producers were attempting some form of authenticity with their title to reflect attitudes at the time.

  • 1
    You got there just before with the very same map. @KharoBangdo ... spelling, particularly in the past was very flexible and not standardized. – iandotkelly Oct 1 '18 at 14:15
  • +1 great find. Although, 'u' can be replaced with 'oo' for writing the word & still be the same phonetically. Anyways, if no one else comes up with a better answer, I'll accept this – KharoBangdo Oct 1 '18 at 14:37
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    That map spells it two different ways in one document! "Hindostan" in the title and "Hindoostan" in the bold label across India. I reckon the title was a typo (or the 19th century equivalent). – IanF1 Oct 1 '18 at 16:20
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    @IanF1 Not a typo in the modern sense. Before computer spell checkers, people were not so bothered about consistency - after all, Shakespeare spelled his own name in 27 different ways, according to some authorities! – alephzero Oct 3 '18 at 11:58

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protected by iandotkelly Jan 7 at 20:11

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