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Bangalored

This word has been discussed recently in the Bangkok Post, the Times of India and other Asian newspapers. A search suggests it has been in use in the USA for about the past year but is only now beginning to appear in print.

It refers to people who have been laid off from a multinational because their job has been moved to India — a business practice designed to save money that is arousing passions in some countries, especially Britain and the United States. Bangalore is cited in particular because of its reputation in the USA as a high-tech city, the Indian equivalent of Silicon Valley, that has benefited significantly from such outsourcing. When this piece first appeared, in the newsletter, many subscribers immediately connected it with the Bangalore torpedo, a tube packed with explosive used by troops for blowing up wire entanglements, which got its name because it was invented in that city. I had thought that the term, which is first recorded in 1913 and was common in both world wars, was now so rare among the public at large that it could not be an influence on the new term. But I’m told that the phrase was used in the recent film Saving Private Ryan, which conceivably might have brought it to mind.

One Web site is selling T-shirts with the slogan “Don’t Get Bangalored” as a way of telling people about the issue. What’s odd about the term, from the point of view of language, is that it’s unusual for a place name to become a verb, though we may remember Sodom from the Bible and Shanghaied has been known since about 1870, at first in the sense of kidnapping a person to make up the crew numbers on a ship, but now more generally to be forced into doing something against one’s will.

I am a software developer who is about to be “Bangalored.” Fine. I am not going to pout about it. The media write that we are in a “global economy,” so deal with it.

Electronic Engineering Times, Apr. 2004

It may not be entirely correct for US dictionaries to verbalise outsourcing to India as Bangalored! With India’s capital city also attracting call centres ... the Americans could perhaps also talk in terms of their jobs being “Delhi-ted”.

Economic Times (India), 24 July 2004

Page created 14 Aug. 2004

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Last modified: 14 August 2004.