Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hindi to Hinglish

During my recent trip to India, I realized a new development. While Indians commonly sprinkle English words while speaking in Hindi, the Hindi news channels of the past almost always used pure Hindi. That seems to be changing now, with even Hindi news reporters starting to use English words without any restraint. It is this fusion language Hindi+English that is called Hinglish.

I have spent much of my adult life in Singapore and have dealt with people of Chinese origin on a daily basis. What intrigues me is the fact that the Chinese never mix English with Mandarin. Not even those who are more comfortable speaking in English than in Mandarin. They have a Mandarin word for every imaginable English word in the dictionary. Even for the latest inventions like computer, mobile phone etc. If you ask any Hindi speaking person for the Hindi translation of these words, he will be at a loss. This sense of one language, in my opinion, binds the Chinese together as a nation.

As a striking contrast to Mandarin, Hindi is evolving faster than any other language on the planet. Soon, we will have a new version of Hindi, and English would have become an inseparable part of it. In a few more decades, pure Hindi might become akin to what Sanskrit is today with only a few scholars being able to understand it.

Being able to transform according to the demands of the changing times is not necessarily a bad thing. I am not opposed to this change and I see it as inevitability. Hindi has metamorphosed ever since its inception and has borrowed words from languages like Sanskrit, Persian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic and Portugese. So this change is not new for Hindi. This acceptance that we have shown towards various languages demonstrates our ability to adapt to new situations without any rigidity. This in my opinion is an indispensable skill to have in this world.

I only hope that when we officially do accept the arrival of Hinglish, the essence of Hindi (and other things Indian) would not be completely missing from it.

9 Comments:

At 6:57 PM, Blogger observer said...

Well written.

I wrote a similar piece in my hindi blog some days ago.

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Nitin said...

Here's few more words, whose hindi translation, I have always wondered about:
Picnic
earphone
scotch-tape
stapler
wire
shoe-lace

The list goes on .......

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger nemo said...

good list nitin. I know the translation for two of the words

Shoe-lace - pheete
wire - taar

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger Nitin said...

Pheete ... hmm. Hadnt heard that one before ... taar .. yes i guess i just never thought of it. Ok here's some more ...

Keychain
computer
typewriter
drawer

Any guesses ?

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger nemo said...

Hey Nitin,

Keychain - chaabi ka challa

Don't know the hindi word for any of the others.

Nidhi

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger Anchal said...

hi nidhi, After long time I visited your blog...you had a very interesting point here "Hinglish"...believe or not...even here in Canada...I myself can't speak complete Hindi even if I want to...I get so so lost with the words which I really really want to say in Hindi because they sound sweet in Hindi than in English...but yaad hi nahi aate...;)

I e-mail my friends generally and ask them if they know it...

by the way...to nitin's request...
I can guess for:
picnic - sair or ghumna
drawer - khana (in the sense - palang ke khane mein rakhdo)

hope that makes sense...

 
At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drawer = daraj

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Hem said...

You are right when you say that Hindi has borrowed from so many languages. But Sanskrit is a different thing. Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian Languages(including Urdu). So you cant say that the language borrows from Sanskrit. It actually has developed from Sanskrit to Prakrit to Hindi. So Sanskrit vocabulary will be there in case of Urdu or Hinglish. And it will be there forever.

 
At 4:50 AM, Blogger Sanket said...

To think one needs words. Does this trend signify that while Chinese can think about the new developments in their language, Indians in general cannot. This is reflected in the number of scientific papers published by Chinese and Indians.

 

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