Do you speak ‘Hinglish’? Perhaps ‘Spanglish’, ‘Franglais’ or ‘Denglish’? If you were brought up in a bilingual home or live in a bilingual country, code-mixing – the mixing of two or more languages in speech – may be a natural part of your daily communication.
Indeed, these “hybrid” languages are nothing new; for centuries languages have been borrowing words from each other. In many cases, we borrow words from another language and incorporate them into our own without having any knowledge of the source language.
Today however, code-mixing has gone far beyond a fashion trend and just borrowing a few words here and there; whole new “languages” are evolving. Take for example, ‘Hinglish’, a portmanteau of Hindu and English. English is an associate official language of India, so naturally code-mixing was bound to happen, and did happen since colonial times. But to what extent, probably no one ever imagined.
Currently, more than 350 million people in India speak Hinglish , and it is so widespread that British diplomats are being urged to learn the ‘language’ before taking
their posts in the country, lest they be left lost in translation , which could seriously affect communications and business deals.
Hinglish is so ingrained in the culture, society and business world of India that even multinationals have realized they need to address their audience in this up-and-coming language. Pepsi’s slogan “yeh dil maange more!” (The heart wants more!) is
a prime example as is McDonald’s “what your bahana is?” (what’s your excuse?).
The mixing of languages is a natural outcome of increasing globalization. So, what should we expect
in the future? A hybrid of a hybrid?