Do You Speak Hinglish?
July 24, 2009
There is a hybrid language called Hinglish.
Its roots are English – the sharp, pucca English spoken by the boys of the Raj. But over the years, Hindi has added some spice and color to it. Cable TV and shopping trips do Dubai have enriched it with new, fancy, shiny English words.
The result is wonderful. Hinglish is now a language in its own right. Its formidable mix of cultures, vocabularies and grammars makes it a unique, dazzling, exhilarating subject of study. My own English having taken a solid Indian punch, I feel entitled to share with you a few Hinglish gems.
Yesterday a shopkeeper wanting to know whether I lived in Jaipur asked me:
“So, you are remaining here only?” . Then: “And you are basically from which nationality?”
As it turns out, the juiciest Hinglish is to be heard from elderly people. Once again, I have to mention Papa-ji. Not only does he use “aforementioned” and “unbeknownst” on a regular oral basis, he also comes up with the most delightful understatements.
Once, waiting for him to sign some lease papers, I sat with his granddaughter watching a TV show. It was a village scene, the local judges gathered under a tree to bestow life or death over a poor girl set up by her mother-in-law. The villagers were getting incensed trying to guess the trial’s outcome. Stones were thrown, moustaches flared, sticks brandished.
I asked Papa-ji:
“Why are they getting so agitated? What are they saying?”
Papa-ji looked up from the papers and at the TV. He smiled:
“They are hazarding guesses.”
I now know that this is a favorite of Papa-ji’s, he uses it all the time. But every time I hear it, it sounds just as perfect.