Glossary: Hinglish


Many people mistakenly use Hinglish as synonymous with Indian English - but like others who approach this linguistically I beg to differ.

There are many different descriptions for this hybridized language. This is mine - as a student and teacher of literature and language (especially in the subcontinental context), I feel compelled to take a more formal approach.

Hinglish is predominantly Hindi or Hindustani written in Roman or English script. When spoken or written, it is driven by phrasings and constructions written or driven by Hindi.

A paragraph of text written in Hinglish may be peppered with English words - especially such terms or concepts as "mobile" or "weekend" or "internet" - in this it does have commonalities with Indian English but the dominant Hindi movie titles are typically written in Hinglish - as in the example shown here. Hinglish and Indian English are both commonly used in advertising in India.

But for obvious reasons (its Indo-Aryan Hindi origins, Hinglish simply doesn't travel as well as Indian English does). Perhaps the best distinction between Indian English and Hinglish is summed up as follows:
an educated Keralite or Tamilian whose mother tongue is an Indo-Dravidian language, would not be able to follow or understand the Indo-Aryan linguistic and syntactical choices made by a Hinglish speaker.
Whereas both would understand Indian English perfectly - inserting words from their own languages into a syntax that is essentially Anglophonic.

Bollywood poster image from
Article: Creative Commons License 2008 Gavin Barrett

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1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Don't forget "Franglais" the half French half English spoken in the borderlands of Quebec.

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