What Is Hinglish?

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - April 19, 2017
Actress Priyanka Chopra has starred in commercials featuring Hinglish. Gotham / Contributor / Getty Images

Hinglish is a mix of Hindi (the official language of India) and English (an associate official language of India) that is spoken by upwards of 350 million people in urban areas of India. (India contains, by some accounts, the largest English-speaking population in the world.)

Hinglish (the term is a blend of the words Hindi and English) includes English-sounding phrases that have only Hinglish meanings, such as "badmash" (which means "naughty") and "glassy" ("in need of a drink").

Examples and Observations

  • "In a shampoo advertisement currently playing on Indian television, Priyanka Chopra, the Bollywood actress, sashays past a line of open-top sports cars, flicking her glossy mane, before looking into the camera and saying: 'Come on girls, waqt hai shine karne ka!'
    "Part English, part Hindi, the line--which means 'It’s time to shine!'--is a perfect example of Hinglish, the fastest growing language in India.
    "While it used to be seen as the patois of the street and the uneducated, Hinglish has now become the lingua franca of India’s young urban middle class . . ..
    "One high-profile example is Pepsi’s slogan 'Yeh Dil Maange More!' (The heart wants more!), a Hinglish version of its international “Ask for more!” campaign."
    (Hannah Gardner, "Hinglish--A 'Pukka' Way to Speak." The National [Abu Dhabi], Jan. 22, 2009)
  • "Prepaid mobile phones have become so ubiquitous in India that English words to do with their use--'recharge,' 'top-up' and 'missed call'--have become common, too. Now, it seems, those words are transforming to take on broader meanings in Indian languages as well as in Hinglish."
    (Tripti Lahiri, "How Tech, Individuality Shape Hinglish." The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 21, 2012)

The Rise of Hinglish

  • "The language Hinglish involves a hybrid mixing of Hindi and English within conversations, individual sentences and even words. An example: 'She was bhunno-ing the masala-s jub phone ki ghuntee bugee.' Translation: 'She was frying the spices when the phone rang.' It is gaining popularity as a way of speaking that demonstrates you are modern, yet locally grounded.
    "New research by my colleagues . . . has found that while the hybrid language is not likely to replace English or Hindi in India, more people are fluent in Hinglish than they are in English. . . .
    "Our data revealed two important patterns. First, Hinglish speakers cannot speak monolingual Hindi in settings which require only Hindi (like our interview scenario)--this confirms reports from some speakers that their only fluency is in this hybrid Hinglish. What this means is that, for some speakers, using Hinglish is not a choice--they cannot speak monolingual Hindi, nor monolingual English. Because these Hinglish speakers are not fluent in Hindi, they are not likely to undergo language shift to monolingual Hindi.
    "Second, bilinguals adjust their speech towards Hinglish when they talk to Hinglish speakers. Over time, the number of Hinglish speakers is growing by adopting speakers from the bilingual community who lose the need to use either language monolingually."
    (Vineeta Chand, "The Rise and Rise of Hinglish in India." The Wire [India], February 12, 2016)

The Queen's Hinglish

  • "A testimony is the average north Indian's response to the language of the conquering British. They transformed it into Hinglish, a pervasive mishmash beyond state control that has spread from below so that even ministers no longer aspire to imitating the Queen. Hinglish boasts of 'airdashing' to a crisis (famine or fire) lest newspapers accuse them of 'being on the backfoot.' A vivacious mixture of English and native tongues, Hinglish is a dialect pulsating with energy and invention that captures the essential fluidity of Indian society."
    (Deep K Datta-Ray, "Tryst With Modernity." The Times of India, Aug. 18, 2010)
  • "[Hinglish has] been called the Queen's Hinglish, and for good reason: it's probably been around since the first trader stepped off the ships of the British East India Company in the early 1600s. . . .
    "You can hear this phenomenon for yourself by dialing the customer service number for any of the world's largest corporations. . . . India has literally turned its English-speaking ability, a once embarrassing legacy of its colonial past, into a multi-billion-dollar competitive advantage."
    (Paul J. J. Payack, A Million Words and Counting: How Global English Is Rewriting the World. Citadel, 2008)

The Hippest Language in India

  • "This mix of Hindi and English is now the hippest slang on the streets and college campuses of India. While once considered the resort of the uneducated or the expatriated--the so-called 'ABCDs' or the American-Born Confused Desi (desi denoting a countryman), Hinglish is now the fastest-growing language in the country. So much so, in fact, that multinational corporations have increasingly in this century chosen to use Hinglish in their ads. A McDonald's campaign in 2004 had as its slogan 'What your bahana is?' (What's your excuse?), while Coke also had its own Hinglish strapline 'Life ho to aisi' (Life should be like this). . . . In Bombay, men who have a bald spot fringed by hair are known as stadiums, while in Bangalore nepotism or favouritism benefiting one's (male) child is known as son stroke."
    (Susie Dent, The Language Report: English on the Move, 2000-2007. Oxford University Press, 2007)
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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "What Is Hinglish?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2021, thoughtco.com/hinglish-language-term-1690836. Nordquist, Richard. (2021, September 1). What Is Hinglish? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/hinglish-language-term-1690836 Nordquist, Richard. "What Is Hinglish?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/hinglish-language-term-1690836 (accessed March 22, 2023).