Living reference work entry
Panini, in the Aashthadhyayi, used a phrase mleccha prayog “code-mixing” for mixing of two dialects or languages in conversation. Patanjali’s Mahabhashya commenting on Panani sutra “formula” indicates that apashabda “the corrupt form of a correct word” is also known as mleccha. It is clear from this reference that the word mleccha was used in the sense of incorrect language use – people’s inability to speak Sanskrit was called mleccha. Sometimes the word mleccha is translated as barbarians and foreigners with its equivalent word milakkha [ 1]. However, the contemporary meaning of mleccha is quite different from the one used in the ancient times. In the present time, something or someone that is dirty, contaminated, or impure is called mleccha. Further, folk etymology indicates that mleccha is a compound word made up of mal “stool” and iccha “desire,” i.e., one who desires to eat impure. The earliest reference of this word is found in the Satapatha Brahmana, and at some...
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