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'Hinglish' may soon conquer the world

Last updated on: October 17, 2004 17:28 IST

'Hinglish' -- a mixture of Hindi and English widely spoken in India -- may soon become the most common form of the Queen's language, according to a British expert.

Professor David Crystal, author of more than 50 books on English, says 350 million Indians speak Hinglish as a second language, exceeding the number of native English speakers in Britain and the US.

Prof Crystal argues that the growing popularity of Indian culture around the world, including Bollywood movies, means that Hinglish will soon become more widely spoken outside the continent.

Some of the Hinglish words in vogue include airdash (travel by air), chaddis (underpants), chai (Indian tea), crore (10 million), dacoit (thief), desi (local), dicky (boot), gora (white person), jungli (uncouth), lakh (100,000), lumpen (thug), optical (spectacles), prepone (bring forward), stepney (spare tyre) and would-be (fiancé or fiancée).

Indian expertise in writing computer software also means that Hinglish will spread via the internet, says Prof Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales.

"Certain phrases are bound to become global with so many Indians working in information technology. As more Indians talk in chat rooms and send emails, the phrases and words they use to describe their lives will be picked up by others on the internet," he says.

Hinglish contains many words and phrases that Britons or Americans may not easily understand, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

Some are archaic, relics of the Raj, such as 'pukka'.

Others are newly coined, such as 'time-pass', meaning an activity that helps kill time.

India's success in attracting business has recently produced a new verb. Those whose jobs are outsourced to India are said to have been 'Bangalored'.

English has long enjoyed a special status in India because of the country's colonial history.

It is still the language of the government, the elite and the media. It is also the only language that unites Indians in a country that has 14 official ones and more than 1,600 dialects.

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