Hinglish, or English, What shall it be?

No language remains static, every language evolves and that goes for English too.  As much as native English speakers would like to keep the English language status quo; that may not be possible.  We talk about a Standard English, but which standard?  Whose Standard English will dominate the world?

If we ask Indians, they might prefer Hinglish to become the next Standard English spoken worldwide.  This will certainly increase the frustration level of an native English speaker who has to deal with an offshore outsourced Help Desk.  But “no botheration”, we can all take classes in the new English hybrid, Hinglish.

Like most Asian, Indians aspire to have their children learn English at school.  They spend thousands of rupees to give their children an English medium education.  But the English that these children speak is often unintelligible to the native English speaker in any part of the world.  Although India’s English classes follow the British English variety, the English spoken would be equally unrecognised on London streets.

English is the lingua franca of India as not everyone in India speaks Hindi, their official language. Hindi is a 20th century construct of the central government and there are certain regions where different groups do not speak the national language, in fact some even refuse, preferring their own vernacular language.  Even the Bollywood version of the Hindi language is spoken by no more than 40% of the population.

So what is Hinglish?  What does the Hinglish language sound like?  Here are a few examples:

Hinglish Phrases

My head is paining.

My head is paining” translated into English means “I have a headache”.

Mother serious” translated into English means “Mother is very ill”.

Please revert regarding the same “translated into English means “Please reply”.


But it is the pronunciation that will throw any native English speaker.  Children are often taught by teachers that have not heard a native speaker and do not know how to pronounce English sounds.  So a zipper becomes a jipper, the becomes da and what is vhat.  It leaves the English speaker dumbfounded as to what is actually being said.

Word confusion

Thinking in Hindi or the local vernacular while speaking the English language puts Hinglish in a language class of its own kind.  For example an Indian might say to you, “He is drinking a cigarette” rather than “He is smoking a cigarette.”

Code Switching

But the best of Hinglish is mixing English and Hindi together to make meaningful messages only to those who speak both languages.  It takes someone who scored high in his English classes to manage sentences of this high calibre.  But if you speak only English or only Hindi, then you are out of luck.  You will never know what is being said.

For example:

Dial kiya gaya number abhi vyast hai.  The number you’ve dialled is currently busy.

When you consider the number of Indians who speak Hinglish vs. English, perhaps those native English speakers who want to preserve a certain “Standard English” should rethink.   Should it be Hinglish or English?  Or maybe we should consider Pinglish?

Watch next week for the place that Pinglish holds in the hybrids of the English language.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>