Is Hinglish a Global Unifier?
by Tanushree Gupta, General Manager of Production at Braahmam Net Solutions
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, a 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 a pure form of language and using Hinglish. In Government departments, pure Hindi was widely used and appreciated. Towards the end of 2011, the Rajbhasha unit of the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a circular in various offices that recommended that 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 Hindi should be used for literary purposes and the practical hybrid ‘Hinglish’ for work purposes1.
Hindi has undergone several changes over the years. In times to come there will be several more changes as well. Should the companies targeting India keep a close watch on the changing Hindi language while deciding to enter the Indian market? Time will tell what new changes Hindi or ‘Hinglish’ go through in future.