An Ode to Hinglish

Reading : 3 minutes

Languages evolve and transform with time and usage (read misuse and abuse too). Ruchira tells us about the advent of Hinglish, a new kind of lingo, where English has a smattering of Hindi, in the weekly column, exclusively in .

 “Yaar, I have pataod the chick; maaroed money from my dad to treat her in a hi-fi joint. Her family is a hi-funda one.” Foxed, aren’t you?  Well, this is merely an example of what is now globally recognised as Indian English (a.k.a Hinglish).

Hinglish is an offspring of the impeccable Queen’s English and the nation’s lingua franca (i.e Hindi) with a smattering of from other dialects. Hinglish is a      post-independence phenomenon. After the left India for good, the Colonial hangover could not be wiped off easily; the official language was still English. The erudite, elite members of society realised that was a sine quoi non for administration, conducting businesses besides keeping abreast of global changes and breakthroughs. However, ethnic culture, ideas and ethos were not negligible either. Hence the upper crust agreed to a compromise of sorts – opening the doors of English to indigenous influences.

During the 80s, an anti-English wave swept the country, especially in the “Cow Belt” areas. The videshi bhasha – symbol of an alien culture – began to be frowned upon. Instead of primary classes, English began to be taught onwards. Incidentally, the Desis adopted the Roman alphabet in their day to day lives. Now, Hindi is commonly written in Roman, which even semi literates read comfortably.

Let’s explore diverse aspects of Indian English. Dhassooo means terrific /sensational while bindaas denotes a calm disposition. Bakwaas is rubbish, and khallaas finished/empty. If you happen to be chewing somebody’s brains you are eating bheja fry. If an event or show is a big “Dekko” interpret it as scintillating. A is a knowledgeable big shot in any sphere.  Cuppachai is your daily Cuppa Tea (cockney origin). Sip it while indulging in gupshup (gossip). Modern artists wear the unisex tag Actor. “Sad demise” is a glaring example, visible in obituary columns of dailies. One may wonder if demise could occasionally be a happy one! Basic grammar is fallen into disuse; adverbs and prepositions are passé.  People are unable to differentiate between its (possessive case) and it’s (it is). There is a world of difference in the meanings but nobody cares. Words like calibre, , studies have been abbreviated to cali, enthu, and studs respectively. Tamasha means revelry, dhamaka a big bang; namkeen is the generic name of assorted, salted snacks. Masala has dual connotation: spicy as well as peppiness. Sounds ekdum (absolutely) strange to your ears, hai naa (isn’t it?)   All said and done, Hinglish does have its utility. It is quick and handy for abrupt conversations or communicating ideas. Terms and phrases are brief, and the rest is left to the imagination.

Like it or not Hinglish is here and to stay – for in this jet age lifestyle who has the time for intelligent, flowery dialogues?

©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh

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Born in Guwahati Assam, Ruchira grew up in Delhi and Punjab. A product of Sacred Heart Convent, Ludhiana, she holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Armed with a P.G diploma in journalism in Journalism, she has been a pen-pusher for nearly 25 years. Her chequered career encompasses print, web, as well as television. She has metamorphosed as a feature writer, her forte being women’s issues, food, travel and literature.