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- Lotus Reads
- Book fiend,culture-vulture, world traveller, daughter of the tropics now living in the Great White North.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
5:53 AM | Posted by Lotus Reads | Edit Post
Culled from the BBC:
Are you a "badmash"? And if you had to get somewhere in a hurry, would you make an "airdash"? Maybe you should be at your desk working, instead you're reading this as a "timepass".
These are examples of Hinglish, in which English and the languages of south Asia overlap, with phrases and words borrowed and re-invented.
A dictionary of the hybrid language has been gathered by Baljinder Mahal, a Derby-based teacher and published this week as The Queen's Hinglish.
Satellite television, movies and the internet mean that more and more people in the sub-continent are exposed to both standard English and Hinglish.
This collision of languages has generated some flavoursome phrases. If you're feeling "glassy" it means you need a drink. And a "timepass" is a way of distracting yourself.
A hooligan is a "badmash" and if you need to bring a meeting forward, you do the opposite of postponing - in Hinglish you can "prepone".
So, why are people sitting up and taking notice of Hinglish?
There are more English-speakers in India than anywhere else in the world (David Crystal, a British linguist at the University of Wales, recently projected that at about 350 million) and with Hinglish now being the preferred way to speak for most Indians,the world's Hinglish speakers may soon outnumber native English speakers!
The Christian Science Monitor had this to say:
While most of the Indians who come to the West to work in the information-technology sector speak English, the sheer numbers of Hinglishmen in IT makes it almost inevitable that some Hinglish words will get globalized.
The subcontinental tug of Hinglish is already being felt abroad. In Britain, the No. 1 favorite meal is an Anglo-Indian invention called Chicken Tikka Masala. And last week, Microsoft announced the company's decision to launch local versions of Windows and Office software in all 14 of India's major languages, including Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
Language expert David Crystal has described India as having a "unique position in the English-speaking world".
"[It's a] linguistic bridge between the major first-language dialects of the world, such as British and American English, and the major foreign-language varieties, such as those emerging in China and Japan."
But there are much older crossovers between English and the languages of the Indian sub-continent, with many words imported from the soldiers and administrators of the British Raj.
These borrowed words include "pundit", originally meaning a learned man; "shampoo", derived from a word for massage; "pyjamas", meaning a leg garment and "dungarees", originating from the Dungri district of Mumbai.
Even the suburban-sounding "caravan" and "bungalow" - and the funky "bandana" and "bangles" were all taken from Hindi words.
When I lived in India my friends and I always spoke "Hinglish" to each other, but when we spoke to our teachers, parents and later, to our bosses, we made sure we spoke "pucca" (proper or the Queen's English) because speaking Hinglish was indictive of not having had a proper education. How things have changed!!! This year when I visited India, most everyone spoke Hinglish, the crossover language has gained credibility and how! With the popularity of movies like "Bend it Like Bekham" and "Bride and Prejudice", I'm convinced Hinglish will soon be spoken in large numbers outside of the subcontinent.
I have a question for you...are you a purist where English is concerned? Robert W. Burchfield once said, "The center of gravity for the English language is no longer Britain. American English is the greatest influence on English everywhere" Do you worry that it has now moved from the British or American way of speaking to second-language users like the Indians or the Hispanics? I must admit that even though Hinglish is what I prefer to use for everyday parlance with my friends, I still drool over the Queen's English.