Speaking Hinglish

The International Herald Tribune reports that English and Hindi have, for a variety of reasons, merged into a sort of lingua franca in a country with more than a dozen popular languages. Hindi may be the national language of India, but it is not the only language, which makes it politically sensitive. However, if you water down Hindi with English, it becomes much more palatable to a wider audience.

According to the article, ” in the mid-1990s, cable TV started rapidly spreading across India and indigenous music channels started using a mixture of Hindi and English in their programming. What began as spoofs on the English used by Indians were soon transformed into a fizzy mix of the two languages. Suddenly, Hindi with a smattering of English acquired status.”

What I find particularly fascinating is that this new way of speaking, often referred to as Hinglish, is playing a growing role in advertising. According to the article, advertising has “started shifting from pure Hindi or English advertisements to Hindi with a few words of English thrown in. Thus the Pepsi slogan is “yeh dil maange more” (“ask for more”) while Coke relies on “life ho to aisi” (“life should be like that”).

John Yunker
John is co-founder of Byte Level Research and author of Think Outside the Country as well as 16 annual editions of The Web Globalization Report Card.
John Yunker

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