IYOM2023 in Hindi: A new term, in the plural

5th in series on translation & the International Year of Millets

The name for the International Year of Millets in Hindi – अंतरराष्ट्रीय पोषक अनाज वर्ष (≈ anetreraasetriy posek anaaj vers) – is featured in a logo for the Year (at right, and in the collage image in the first post of this series), as well as in various articles (such as this long discussion of IYM2023 in Hindi). It translates as International Nutritious Grains Year.1

Although there are specific words for each of many millets in the languages of India, apparently none of them have a generic term to cover millets as a group. (If you use an online translation software, chances are that you’ll find “millet” and “millets” translated into Hindi with the word for pearl millet, बाजरा [≈ baajara]2).

In India, the term “coarse grains” or “coarse cereals” has been used in English and evidently also in Hindi translation to refer to millets in general (and also more broadly to millets, corn/maize, and barley – basically every grain that is not rice or wheat3). So when IYL2023 was announced in March 2021, a Hindi version of the name of the Year published online was अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मोटा अनाज वर्ष (≈ anetreraasetriy motaa anaaj vers), meaning literally International Coarse Grains Year.

In 2018, the Indian government had changed its designation for millets to “nutri-cereals,” which was seen as conveying a more positive message about these grains. However the rebranding has evidently taken a while to catch on. In 2020, for example, there was an article advocating for the change that had already been announced two years earlier. In any event, by the middle of 2021, official references to IYM2023 were using the current name, अंतरराष्ट्रीय पोषक अनाज वर्ष (International Nutritious Grains Year).

Altogether, this represents a novel path to recognizing the plurality of millets as one category, where the existing lexicon doesn’t have a generic word: Namely, using a new “umbrella” term, albeit binominal and rather technical, that reflects a national policy to promote production and consumption of millets in general.

Notes:

  1. With thanks to those responding on LinkedIn to my recent question about this.
  2. This word is borrowed into English as “bajra.” I’ve also seen it on packages of products containing pearl millet as “bajri.”
  3. The term “coarse grains” is used by agricultural services in at least some English-speaking countries, as well as in a number of research publications. OECD defines it in this way: “Coarse grains generally refers to cereal grains other than wheat and rice — in the OECD countries, those used primarily for animal feed or brewing.”

Posts in this “IYOM2023 & translation” series:

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