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Lesson Transcript


Alisha: What is Hinglish?
Shakti: And in what other ways is Hindi evolving?
Alisha: At HindiPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scenario: Jack Jones, an exchange student, sees his college friend, Khushbu Khan. He greets her but gets an unexpected reply. Jack asks,
"How are you?"
जैक: तुम कैसी हो? (Tum kaiSii ho?)
जैक: तुम कैसी हो? (Tum kaiSii ho?)
ख़ुशबू: फ़र्स्ट क्लास। (farSt kLaaS.)
Alisha: Once more with the English translation.
जैक: तुम कैसी हो? (Tum kaiSii ho?)
Alisha: "How are you?"
ख़ुशबू: फ़र्स्ट क्लास। (farSt kLaaS.)
Alisha: "First Class."

Lesson focus

Alisha: If we had to choose a modern lingua franca, English would be the first candidate. No other language has as many non-native speakers as English does, and it influences nearly every other language with an international presence. This can also be observed in Hindi, with the rising number of English loanwords. This development is called
Shakti: Hinglish.
Alisha: The word ‘Hinglish’ is a fusion of the words
Shakti: हिन्दी (hiNDii)
Alisha: and ‘English’, and was first recorded in 1967. The language involves a hybrid mixing of Hindi and English within conversations, individual sentences and even words. Some phrases are so common now that you are likely to hear them wherever you go in India.
So, how significant is this trend? Well, if you consider that Hinglish is used by the government, the media, and the common people, that is pretty significant! But is it a good thing?
Young people who live in the cities, and are hugely influenced by cable television and the Internet, often choose English. Not only that, but many parents insist on their kids speaking English at home. The fear is that, without English, their children will not be able to find good jobs. After all, many industries require English fluency in the job interview. In fact, to get admission into a good school, you often have to pass an English test.
The result is that some youngsters have trouble speaking pure Hindi, and, at the same time, are not learning proper English. English words filter into Hindi sentences, and Hindi words into English sentences. While many see Hinglish as somehow giving English words a fresh spin, it is a source of frustration for others. Love it or hate it, let us look at some examples!
A very common Hinglish trend is saying a phone number or date in English, or asking the time partially in English. Like this:
Shakti: [NORMAL] टाइम क्या हुआ है? (taaim kyaa huaa hai?) [SLOWLY] टाइम क्या हुआ है? (taaim kyaa huaa hai?).
Alisha: meaning ‘What time is it right now?’ In this example, an English word was inserted into a Hindi sentence. On the other hand, you can also find Hindi words inserted into English sentences, like this one:
Shakti: [NORMAL] “I have hazaar things to do.
[SLOWLY] “I have hazaar things to do.”
Alisha: or, ‘I have thousands of things to do.’ The Hindi word here is
Shakti: [NORMAL] हज़ार (hazaar) [SLOWLY] हज़ार (hazaar).
Alisha: and means a thousand.
Alisha: If you wanted to say this sentence in Hindi, it would be
Shakti: [NORMAL] मुझे हज़ार चीज़ें करनी हैं। (mujhe hazaar ciizen karaNii hain.)
[SLOWLY] मुझे हज़ार चीज़ें करनी हैं। (mujhe hazaar ciizen karaNii hain.)
A number of current Hinglish terms are adaptations of English words which are assigned a specific Hinglish meaning. What is quite common is the formation of nouns from words of various parts of speech in English. At Indian weddings, for example, you are likely to hear some interesting neologisms! First, your fiance is called your
Shakti: would-be.
Alisha: Aunts and uncles, as well as any other older adults who are close to the family, could be politely called
Shakti: [NORMAL] Auntyji (aantii jii) [SLOWLY] Auntyji (aantii jii).
Alisha: or
Shakti: [NORMAL] Uncleji (ankaL jii) [SLOWLY] Uncleji (ankaL jii).
Alisha: The Hindi suffix
Shakti: ji (jii)
Alisha: at the end of ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ is used as a respectful form of address.
Now, how about some sentences? We have a few Hinglish phrases for you to try out.
Like this one, for example:
Shakti: [NORMAL] ओके बॉस, सुनो बॉस। (oke bauS, SuNo bauS.) [SLOWLY] Ok Boss, suno Boss. (oke bauS, SuNo bauS.)
Alisha: The Hindi word here is
Shakti: [NORMAL] सुनो (SuNo) [SLOWLY] सुनो (SuNo).
Alisha: and it means ‘listen’.
Alisha: Right from the waiter to the bus conductor, everyone is referred to as ‘Boss’. And when there is a monumental problem, you can say
Shakti: [NORMAL] यह एक हिमालयन ब्लंडर है। (yah ek himaaLayaN bLaNdar hai.)
[SLOWLY] यह एक हिमालयन ब्लंडर है। (yah ek himaaLayaN bLaNdar hai.)
Alisha: or, ‘This is a Himalayan Blunder’—which is actually an idiom and means ‘a very serious mistake’. The phrase “Himalayan Blunder” was first used by Mahatma Gandhi, when things went a little bit out of control in the beginning of his Non-Cooperation movement. It helped India win its freedom in the end. But, in the beginning, when things were a little rough, Gandhi thought that he had made a huge mistake. Indians use it when speaking about anything from a lost cricket match to a bad political decision!
Alisha: Here is another phrase you will hear often:
Shakti: [NORMAL] Do one thing. [SLOWLY] Do one thing.
Alisha: This Hinglish expression is a direct translation from the Hindi
Shakti: एक काम करो। (ek kaam karo.)
Alisha: In India, we say this when we want someone to follow our instructions or take our advice. A pretty handy expression! To balance the bossiness, here is a friendly Hinglish phrase:
Shakti: [NORMAL] सबसे बेस्ट फ़्रेंड। (SabaSe beSt freNd.) [SLOWLY] सबसे बेस्ट फ़्रेंड। (SabaSe beSt freNd.)
Alisha: The Hindi word here,
Shakti: सबसे (SabaSe),
Alisha: means ‘from all’, and this is followed by the English words ‘best friend’. Since ‘best’ is already a superlative degree to describe someone better than the rest, the addition of the Hindi word gives the sentiment even deeper meaning.
Alisha: This next phrase is often used by youngsters in a fun way, and it may also be used to show defiance. Use this one carefully. The Hindi expression is
Shakti: [NORMAL] हम तो ऐसे ही हैं। (ham To aiSe hii hain.) [SLOWLY] हम तो ऐसे ही हैं। (ham To aiSe hii hain.)
Alisha: It is frequently expressed in Hinglish like this:
Shakti: We are like that only.
Alisha: It basically means ‘we change for nobody’ or “this is how we are”. Whether you love us or hate us, we are just like that! This is another example of a Hinglish expression that is made up entirely of English words. Essentially, though, this type of usage is potentially damaging for serious learners of English, as it teaches incorrect grammar. Food for thought, right?
Alisha: Sometimes Hinglish manipulates English word components creatively and new words are coined. For example, in English, if you want to push something to a later date, you postpone it. Well, in Hinglish, you can also bring something forward to a sooner date! In other words,
Shakti: [NORMAL] prepone [SLOWLY] prepone
Alisha: In a sentence, it will sound something like this…
Shakti: ‘Do you think we could prepone dinner? I'm starving!’
Alisha: You have got to love that! As well as new uses of English words and structures, the term ‘Hinglish’ also refers to the incorporation of Hindi words into English vocabulary. Here are some popular Hinglish expressions based on Hindi words. First, the word
Shakti: [NORMAL] फ़िल्मी (fiLmii) [SLOWLY] फ़िल्मी (fiLmii)
Alisha: which means ‘to be a drama queen’ or ‘to be a drama king’. This adjective is characteristic of Bollywood movies. The usage is based on an English noun homograph, meaning words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. In English, ‘filmy’ has nothing to do with movies—it refers to translucent things, such as floaty, see-through fabric. In Hinglish, the word refers to Bollywood film music and film stars, especially when there is high drama! In a sentence, you might hear
Shakti: ‘Then the chat gave way to the impassioned singing of filmi songs.’
Alisha: You will also hear people adding their own English suffixes to Hindi words in a English sentence. For example, listen to this.
Shakti: “You have to first bhuno-fy the masala.”
Alisha: You will find two unfamiliar words in this English sentence. The first one is
Shakti: भुनो-फ़ाई (bhuNofaaii).
Alisha: This is a combination of the Hindi word for “roasting” and the English “-fy”, like in “verify”. The other word is
Shakti: मसाला (maSaaLaa).
Alisha: This means “spices”. The sentence means “You have to first roast the spices.”
Another very common thing to do is to add the English “-ing” at the end of a Hindi word. Like this
Shakti: Your sabzi is jalo-ing.
Alisha: There are two new words for you here too! The first one is
Shakti: सब्ज़ी (Sabzii).
Alisha: In this sentence, it refers to a “vegetable dish”. The second word is very interesting.
Shakti: जलो-इंग (jaLo-ing).
Alisha: This is a combination of the Hindi word
Shakti: जलना (jaLaNaa).
Alisha: and the English “-ing” and it means “burning”. The sentence means “Your vegetables are burning.”
Recall 1
Alisha: Let us go back to the dialogue now. Do you remember how to say "How are you?"
Shakti as Jack: तुम कैसी हो? (Tum kaiSii ho?)
Alisha: This is a Hindi phrase and it is the normal way to ask ‘How are you?’
But do you remember how Khushbu answers “First class?”
Shakti as Khushbu: फ़र्स्ट क्लास। (farSt kLaaS.)
Alisha: Khushbu answers in Hinglish. This is a common response when asked ‘How are you?’ in India. It implies that you are doing well. You can also use this Hinglish expression if you think someone or something is really excellent. Anything from amazing street food to a Bollywood movie can be considered ‘first class’. Now you just have to practice the accent!
Alisha: In this lesson, you learned that Hindi speakers tend to adopt English words into their vocabulary and call it ‘Hinglish’. Many Hinglish phrases are actually made up entirely of English words, while others are a combination of English and Hindi words.
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Alisha: Hinglish is gaining popularity, particularly in advertisements. You will even hear of Hinglish movie titles, such as
Shakti: Love Aaj Kal.
Alisha: meaning ‘Love today tomorrow yesterday’, which is a 2020 Hindi romantic drama.
English speakers travelling to India might find some fun in exploring this new dimension to the English language. However, if you are serious about learning to speak the Hindi language, we strongly advise that you focus on Hindi and avoid trends that will ultimately slow down your progress.


Alisha: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Shakti: फिर मिलेंगे! (phir miLenge!)
Alisha: See you soon!

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