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CategoriesNooks and cranniesYesteryearSemantic enigmasThe body beautifulRed tape, white liesSpeculative scienceThis sceptred isleRoot of all evilEthical conundrumsThis sporting lifeStage and screenBirds and the bees BIRDS AND THE BEESWhy is the lion referred to as "the king of the jungle" when it lives in open country? JUNGLE is a word in Hindi meaning "not an inhabited place". The word covers forest, wilderness, wold, waste, even the world (without human structures). The emphasis is on emptiness. Much of what is called jungle in India is steppe or nearly desert. Jim McManus, Wheaton Aston, Staffs. ONE REASON for the confusion is that "jungle" is derived from the Hindi (and thus also from Sanskrit) words. There are no tropical forests in India, and the definitive text on the derivation of the word (Frances Zimmermann"s "Jungle and the Aroma of Meats") makes a good case for saying that "jangala" really meant an open savannah-like terrain, very suitable for the Indian lion. How "jungle" came to be understood in British English as a thick tropical forest with creepers etc. is still somewhat unclear; the Hindi word "jungle" in rural north India is a term still very much in use to describe the fields and the margins of cultivated lands such as common grazing lands. (Prof) Roger Jeffery, Department of Sociology and Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh (rjeffery
afb1.ssc.ed.ac.uk) On this point it is true that the local word "jungli" means wild or uncivilised lands ie notinhabited by humans. However I would point out that there is tropical forest in the Western Ghats of India and that these did at one time hold populations of lions and many other wild creatures. Afatab Hussain, Rawalpindi, Pakistan I thought Tarzan was king of the jungle? Campbell McGregor, Glasgow, UK Add your answer

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