Hindi (and Urdu?): baaTaa


Senior Member
In India at least, even in south India, not just in north, when one hires a car driver for a long trip, one pays the driver a daily allowance (for his meals, etc.), besides what one pays for the petrol, driver's services, car, etc. That daily allowance is called "baaTaa" in a lot of regions and languages of India, including Hindi. It's a very, very popular word.

My question is where does this strange-sounding word (sounding like the Canadian? footwear company Bata) come from? Does anyone have any idea? Is it corruption of some English word? If yes, which word? Also, do Urdu speakers also recognise this word?

Thanks in advance!
  • According to Platts it is evidently a corruption of baaNTaa meaning 'divided, portioned', thus 'a portion, a share' which makes sense in the context you described.
    ^ Thanks, eskandar jii, it may well be so also, though Platts doesn't give any context. Note that "baaTaa" as used in the travel industry is used for a separate daily allowance that one has to pay the car driver, and is often non-negotiable. In a way, yes, it's true that it does represent a share of the total expenses, but it's a strange way to call "allowance" as "portion", if it indeed comes from there. Any other opinions?