The lingo resulting from the habit of frequently mixing Hindi and English vocabulary has today become widely known as Hinglish. Hinglish is like a second language to a lot of us who do not feel confident conversing entirely in English.
“I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English because English is a very phunny (funny) language.” This is a famous line from a Hindi movie Namakhalaal (released in 1982), delivered impeccably in a strong regional (Haryanvi) accent by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.
It is spoken thus purposefully — to show that rural Indians are capable, even if a little clumsily, of adopting ways of the city, where speaking English is not just regarded necessary, but also viewed as a mark of one’s educational and social status.
All those who could speak English fluently, did so. However, all those who could not, needed to depend on Hindi for familiar words and expressions. Slowly it became a trend to mix Hindi while speaking English. As a result, Hinglish was born.
Hinglish does not have any official script as such; neither has it had any defined rules of grammar, nor does it have any path-breaking literature for references, yet it is speakable and popular. It is very creative of people to innovate a new dialect out of an existing language.
However, kuch people aise bhi hai who think mixing languages is a bad idea because then the respective languages lose their purity and identity.
The beauty of English is that from the earliest times it has been able to incorporate and adapt words from other languages. In the long run, we can expect Hinglish to influence in many fields in the same way Latin and French have over several centuries.
“People have taken possession of the language and are ever more inventive about the way they use it,” said Mr Butterfield. “The new words … do not reflect change in our culture but a change in the way we use our language: they portray a vibrant multicultural society finding new ways to express itself and describe the world about it.” As Hindi is losing ground Hinglish is becoming popular.
Turn on any Indian television station these days and you’re likely to hear things like “Hungry kya?” and “What your bahana is?”
The mix of Hindi and English is the language of the street and the college campus, and its sound sets many parents’ teeth on edge.
It’s a bridge between two cultures that has become an island of its own, a distinct hybrid culture for people who aspire to make it rich abroad without sacrificing the sassiness of the mother tongue. And it may soon claim more native speakers worldwide than English.
Once, Indians would ridicule the jumbled language of their expatriate cousins, the so-called ABCDs – or the American-Born Confused Desi. Now that jumble is hip, and turning up in the oddest places, from television ads to taxicabs, and even hit movies.
But Hinglish isn’t just a language spoken between the younger generation or amongst the rich elite who want to come across as more “western.” It is now being used extensively in marketing campaigns by large corporations.
Pepsi, for instance, has given its global “Ask for more” campaign a local Hinglish flavor: “Yeh Dil Maange More” (the heart wants more). Not to be outdone, Coke has its own Hinglish slogan: “Life ho to aisi” (Life should be like this).
These examples reflect the growing influence of Indian language on the English language, adding spice and variety to a truly global language. Iska future bright hai !
Article by Rukhsana Saifee, Assistant Professor of English, Chartered Institute of Technology