Hinglish: Guide offered to rich curry of tongues

(Reuters) Going doolally? Getting too filmi? Being a bit of a bevakoof? Welcome to the wonderful world of Hinglish, a rich linguistic curry that stirs together English with Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi. And now novelist and teacher Baljinder Mahal has provided readers with a guide to this lively hybrid language — a new dictionary entitled “The Queen’s Hinglish: How To Speak Pukka.” For British Asian families, it is the perfect way to enliven English. On the Indian sub-continent it is a fast-developing lingua franca. “I had so much fun compiling it,” Mahal said of the dictionary that stretches from words dating back to the British Raj right up to today’s hip advertising slogans.
Mystech: I dropped the slang word shrapnel (UK slang for loose change) in an IM conversation and minutes later this article came up, so I figured it was linguistic synchronization and posted it here.

“Doolally is my favourite word, meaning crazy. It was military slang named after a town near Mumbai called Deolali, which was the location for a sanatorium,” she told Reuters in an interview to mark publication.

She scoffs at academic linguists who fret over the purity of the English language. “Language is not set in stone. It is fluid and organic. Chaucer’s English is not the same as Shakespeare’s English,” she said.


She is fascinated by the different ways Hinglish has been adopted as one of the fastest growing hybrid languages in the world. “In India it has become quite trendy. The elite speak it, Bollywood speaks it in its films, Corporate India speaks it in its advertising slogans,” she said.

Children, as linguistic magpies, love to pick it up in the playground as a kind of secret banter that is incomprehensible to adults. “In Britain it has become fashionable, particularly among the young,” she said.

The dictionary unveils how this quirky clash of tongues has such choice words as “filmi” meaning melodramatic or “bevakoof”, Hinglish for a fool.

Anyone feeling “glassy” is in need of a drink. A hooligan is a “badmash” and if you need to bring that office meeting forward, it is time to “prepone”, as opposed to postpone, it.

She said that Hinglish, like the Spanglish spreading across the melting pot that is America, is also a language that underlines the globalisation of India, one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Satellite television, the Internet and movies effortlessly spread Hinglish around the world. Mahal, rejoicing in its rapid evolution, said “Language is never static — just like identity.”

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2 Responses

  1. voxaurorae says:

    You’re just reading Kafka because of all those mages sheeping mobs…

  2. Mystech says:

    Actually, I need to put Kafka back up on the shelf. It’s too dreary for Autumn reading.

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