Is Hinglish a Global Unifier?
February 18, 2023

Is Hinglish a Global Unifier?

Last Saturday I was passing through a roadside weekly market when I saw an old man selling accessories of different mobile phones. A boy came to this shop and started bargaining the price of a black pouch lying there. The old man replied “यह tablet cover है और rate fixed हैं, इसमें कुछ margin नहीं होता.”

(This is a tablet cover and the rate is fixed, we do not have much margins on it.) This made me think about the increasing use of English words in everyday conversation by us in India. This way of blending Hindi with English, popularly known as Hinglish, has become too common these days. As per Oxford Dictionary, Hinglish is a blend of Hindi and English, in particular a variety of English used by speakers of Hindi, characterized by frequent use of Hindi vocabulary or constructions. Hinglish is used in movies, advertisements, media, newspaper and almost everything. It is not only common in India, it is widely spoken by Indians abroad (NRIs) in various countries, such as the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

As declared in the Indian Constitution, Hindi is the official language of India along with English.  Apart from these, states also have their own official languages. Thus, there are 22 scheduled languages in India. Interestingly, the dialect of Hindi also changes with each state. With such diversity of languages, English continues to be the lingua franca among the Indians.

In some states, pure form of Hindi is used, which has more of Sanskrit vocabulary. But, in states like Delhi, Hinglish is more prevalent. There is a debate between using pure form of language and using Hinglish. In Government departments, pure form of Hindi was widely used and appreciated. Towards the end of 2011, the Rajbhasha unit of Ministry of Home Affairs sent a circular in various offices that recommended that pure form of Hindi can be replaced with their English alternatives in Devanagari script. To give more clarity in this regard, the Department of Language at Home Ministry gave examples that ‘कुंजीपटल (kunjipatal)’ can be replaced with keyboard and ‘संगणक (sanganak)’ with ‘computer.’ The order said that pure form of Hindi should be used for literary purposes and the practical hybrid ‘Hinglish’ form for work purposes1.

Hindi has undergone several changes over the years. In times to come there can be several more changes in store as well. Should the companies targeting India keep a close watch on the every changing Hindi language while deciding on entering the Indian market? Let us see what new changes will Hindi or ‘Hinglish’ go through in future.

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