Yeh hai HINGLISHTAAN Meri Jaan!

A LANGUAGE is dying every two weeks somewhere in the world today. Half of the world’s languages may not be spoken in the next century. This is an extremely serious concern. Hindi is the second-largest language in the world, in number of speakers, after Mandarin Chinese. It’s the dominant language of India, which is also the world’s second largest nation by population.

However, Hindi is not a universal language in India but majority of population has knowledge of this language. Native speakers of Hindi dialects account for 41 per cent of the Indian population (2001 Indian census).

English has enjoyed a special status in India because of the country’s colonial history and still continues to be the second language in India. With the growth of international trade and formation of the United Nations Organisation, the world, increasingly felt the need for one language to converse in. The language took over this role, and many newly-independent nations were also forced to adopt the language.

As the scenario in the country changed, we deviated from Hindi. The deviation may be accredited to globalisation, Internet and various other factors. This holds true not only for tier II cities but also for metropolises where the use of English becomes a class-defining factor. You agree or not, but, this is the fact and there is some non-affinity towards Hindi. But, throughout my academic career I have liked Hindi a lot and have special liking for it because this is the language of Indian masses and is spoken in more than 30 dialects, which makes it even more special. I speak in five dialects of Hindi.

Hindi is being popularised by the global Bollywood, new websites for Hindi poetry, stories etc and the Hindi press. The Hindi press is more popular than the top selling English newspapers among the masses, according to the latest survey.

Hindi blogosphere at the moment, looks like a vibrant, if a bit cautious space. Bloggers’ comment on a range of things and it has become a space for innovation, discussion and sharing. The other interesting aspect of Hindi is that new form of the language, Hinglish, is creating waves in the country. A British expert recently said that Hinglish — a mixture of Hindi and English, widely spoken in India — may soon become the most common form of the Queen’s language.

This is more commonly seen in urban and semi-urban centres of India, but is slowly spreading its root into rural and remote areas via television and word of mouth, slowly achieving vernacular status. Many speakers do not realise that they are incorporating English words into Hindi sentences or Hindi words into English sentences or simple Indian English. This form of Hindi has implanted a compatibility between an only Hindi speaker and English/Hindi speaker. For example, in Mumbai, one is very much aware of the word ’tension’. My hostel watchman one day told me, “Aajkul humko bahut tension hai(Nowadays, I feel a lot of tension).” He understands, and I understand. It really works that way.

As Hinglish is gaining popularity, people belonging to states where different dialects are used, are using it. One day, my friend who hails from Patna, was talking to me over phone. He called me after his first ’date’ and I asked him about the occasion. He said in a very calm way, “it was good, but hum nervousiya gaye thhey(It was good but I became a bit nervous).” There are numerous such statements, which will make you laugh when you think of them. Like, there were dialogues in Hindi movie, Gangajal, “Aapka mind to nahi kharab ho gaya hai!”and “Aapka game over ho jaayega aaj.” I ask my father, “Dad, time kya hua hai?”My bhabhi will always tell my nephew, “Beta, slowly slowly jana.”

Bollywood has always embraced Hinglish and nowadays we see more number of songs in Hindi+English. There was a time, when Kishore Kumar and Nutan played Tom and Jerry against cat, cat maanebilli and rat, rat maane chooha, arre dil hai tere panje mein toh kya hua,in Dilli Ka Thug. Then, we have so many ad jingles as well. Domino’s ’Hungry Kya?’or Sprite says, ’Clear hai’.

In England, the growth of Hinglish expressions has undoubtedly been accelerated by the popularity of hit movies such as Bend it like Beckham (2002), and East is East (1999), which feature protagonists from the Asian community in Britain. Such films have contributed for instance to popular use of ’innit?’ for (isnt’t?)

Emails, chats, Orkut scraps, all communication on Internet — in the Indian domain — is facilitated by Hinglish. Overall, Hinglish is rocking the world. The way things stand now, the reach and popularity of Hinglish only seems to grow in the future. So, a language that has survived through the centuries by marrying with different dialects and masters, is bouncing back again in India — this time in a new alliance with its greatest erstwhile threat, English.

A British language expert predicts that Hinglish or Indian English, will overtake standard English as the most common spoken form of the language globally.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Hinglish, a rich linguistic curry that is stirring together English with Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi.

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