It’s all about Hinglish Vinglish !

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.“ -Author-comedian George Carlin.

Expansion of a mother language into multiple local dialects is not a new phenomenon. It occurs naturally with the influence of time, place and circumstance. However, the use of a first language to convey a message in a second language is clearly bewildering and sometimes outright shocking! Why would anyone not communicate in the first language itself, since it is obvious that the target audience understands the same?

The genesis of this question, at least in India, is in the increasing visibility of English being used to construct Hindi words across mass communication platforms, such as billboards, posters, social media and even SMSs. The first famous instance of this trend that probably every Indian still remembers was Pepsi’s 1998 catchphrase — ‘Yeh Dil Mange More, Aha!’ (Which translates roughly as ‘this heart wants more’). Ever since, be it Amul’s creative billboard messages or Domino’s tagline — ‘Hungry Kya?’, companies big and small have jumped onto the bandwagon to promote products and events in what has now been coined as ‘Hinglish’. In fact, the word ‘Hinglish’ today, finds a place in almost all leading English dictionaries, including Oxford’s!

Now India, the brainy polyglot, has never shied away from learning new languages; languages that were introduced by the Dutch, the Mughals, the French, the Portuguese or the British. These foreign languages have either convincingly flourished (like Urdu across India and French in Pondicherry) or have completely faded (like Dutch and Portuguese). But there is one language that, in spite of enjoying the longest and most extensive subjection, continues to invite partial apathy amongst the heartland masses — English.

This resistance could be attributed to multiple reasons ranging from history and culture to geography and science. Sanskrit, recently described by NASA as the best language for computers, is also the mother language of most Indian regional languages, and has been around for at least 5000 years. Its tight grip over Indian culture and traditions was one of the main reasons why English could never really sneak into the personal space and lives of the common man. Post British era, Indians had learned to ‘walk in English and talk in English’, but a sense of connection with the language remained elusive. Maybe it for this very reason, that Hindi and other regional languages are extensively being used to strike a chord with the masses.

But would incorporating Hinglish into mainstream communication make sense? Imagine waking up to the headline ‘India ne jita cricket world cup 2019’ in ‘The Times of India’ (which by the way, would be rechristened something like ‘India ki Khabrain’). Visualize kids having to learn English & Hindi in lower classes just to be able to attempt Science exams, in Hinglish! Sounds whimsical, doesn’t it? Precisely why, Hinglish as a conventional language may never see the light of the day.

So is this simply a transitional phase? Will English ever truly develop that bond with Indians? Or will Sanskrit reinstate its authority? ‘Ye toh wakt he bataega’ (only time will tell!).