From the Hindi/Urdu suffix -wālā, which has the sense of 'pertaining to or connected with' that preceding, which may be compared with the English suffix -er (as in, for example, baker, walker). Thanks to the Raj, in English it has progressed beyond its Indian roots and has come to mean:
- One employed in a particular occupation or activity (eg. kitchen wallah; rickshaw wallah).
- An important person in a particular field or organization.
- One carrying out a routine administrative job; a civil servant, a bureaucrat.
Other examples of Anglo-Indian usage include:
- banghy-wallah, a porter who carries loads with a banghy or shoulder-yoke
- dhobi-wallah, a laundry worker (photo right)
- punkah-wallah, a servant who works a fan
- Dillī-wālā, inhabitant of Delhi.