Hinglish and English


Spoken language is the most convenient vehicle for transporting ideas from one mind to another, thus it is a dire necessity. 

English has long since been accepted as the universal language. In India too, it finds a strong foothold. As it happens with any language, English in India too has lost its purity and been contaminated with words from the native language.  Hybridization of English and Hindi gave birth to a new language known as “Hinglish”, the term popular today in the world of entertainment, media and advertising.

If we go by the Oxford Advanced Dictionary, Hinglish is a language which is a mixture of English and Hindi. Hinglish is a code-switching variety of Hindi and English whereby these languages are freely interchanged within a sentence or between sentences. While the name is based on the Hindi language, it doesn’t refer exclusively to Hindi but also uses words from Punjabi. Hinglish is not only used in India but also within British Asian families to liven up Standard English.

Hinglish, which is more commonly used in urban and semi-urban centres of the Hindi speaking states of India, has slowly started sowing its roots in rural and remote areas as well thanks to television and other forms of media. Some examples from the Hinglish vocabulary are air dash (going somewhere in a hurry), pre-pone (the opposite of postpone), eve teasing (street sexual harassment), glassy (wanting a drink), time pass (a distraction to pass the time), badmash (hooligan), chaddis (underpants), dacoit (thief), gora (white person), desi (local) etc.

Most Hindi/English speakers hardly realize that they are incorporating English words into Hindi sentences or Hindi words into English sentences. David Crystal, a British linguist at the University Of Wales, projected in 2004 that the world’s Hinglish speakers may soon outnumber native English speakers.

So why is Hinglish becoming so popular? The reasons are many but I am mentioning three main ones. First is the growing popularity of Indian cinema.A whole range of terms and slangs used in urban India can be traced back to popular films. Bollywood films like “Shadike Side Effects” (side effects of marriage), “Main Tera Hero” (I am your hero) etc. are the reasons behind modernization of English language in India. Another common cause is the rapid growth in mobile phone ownership. “Miss call” has become a popular verb as in “I will give my friend a miss call”. This is done by calling someone and hanging up quickly before he or she has the time to answer. It lets the person know that you are thinking of them. Social networking sites are also providing a platform for spreading popular Hinglish words. 

To quote a few lines of Ayodhya Prasad Khatri who wrote this poem during the period of British rule in India:

 Rent law kagham Karen ya bill of Income Tax ka?

 Kya Karen apnanahihai sense now-a-days

Darkness chayahuahai Hind maecharutaraf

Naamkibhihainahibaaqina light now-a-days

Looks like Hinglish isn’t something which was recently developed but has been present long before Indian independence. Judging from the momentum Hinglish has gained in recent years, I would not hesitate to say that we aren’t far from the era when the whole world might be speaking Hinglish instead of English.



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