Do You Speak Hinglish?

July 24, 2009

old man

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.


11 Responses to “Do You Speak Hinglish?”

  1. ohiokimono Says:

    I am really curious to listen to this, it is time to go youtube hunting.

  2. Lisette Says:

    Your elegant and witty formulations are delighting me daily – love this story! I can imagine the accompanying head waggles and of course the delightful Indian intonation that goes with the phrasing…

    Thanks for provoking a breakfasting smile!

  3. Sunny Side Says:

    It’s why I love to read you … I am a wrecked Hinglishy ! I printed my third notebook of your posts and I take them with me for holidays. I don’t understand the last sentence “They are hazarding guesses”. Please could you translate.

  4. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    @ sunny side: ca veut dire “ils essayent de deviner”, mais en anglais du 19eme, donc plutot “ils hasardent des suggestions”…

  5. Sunny Side Says:

    Merciiiii !

  6. boubou Says:

    Hello !
    Je n’arrive plus à rentrer sur mon mail yahoo la barbe ! redonne moi ton adresse sur ma nouvelle adresse pro du coup : comme ça je pourrais te répondre 😉
    Bises la belle ! et j’espère que tout se passe bien !

  7. YVR Says:

    Is “Fas Ka las” still used for “First class”?

    au fait, les archives du blog ne remontent qu’a novembre 2008. Peut on avoir acces aux autres? pleeease with a mango on top?

  8. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    @ YVR : c’est parce que…je n’ai commence ce blog qu’en novembre 2008!

  9. YVR Says:

    🙂 ah well when you say like that! I got confused because someone left a comment on one of your first posts in November saying that he was following it for a while, I kinda got confused, though I must say it happens easily and frequently.

    Here, I’ll even quote it for you —

    Rickshaw Drivers post of Nov 19th:

    November 19, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

  10. jasmineandtheelephants Says:

    I know, but he was a long time reader of…2 weeks!

  11. YVR Says:

    et la aussi, tout est relatif 🙂

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