I have always been interested in the myriad uses and applications of the English language, adjusted and adapted to suit a particular ethnic or cultural group, or a particular purpose, or simply for the convenience and clarity the adaptation conveys, never mind the grammatical or phonetic  liberties taken by those more familiar with their own vernacular.

My very first experience with such happy permutations and combinations of a particular word, altered to fit the accents of the speaker and hearer, was a complaint by our cook in Lucknow. She  had gone with her family to have a photograph taken in a studio, and the photographer refused to part with the ‘naketi’ which meant she couldn’t go anywhere else for extra copies even if they were cheaper elsewhere. It was around the same time that I first heard people talking about red and green singals at crossroads and am surprised at the number of literate people who confuse the letters in this simple word.

Have you noticed the small scooter and car mechanics proudly including ‘pumcher repairing’ among their services? My driver would sometimes have to drive me to work in a different car because the ‘shabzer’ in my regular vehicle had to be replaced, you know, that thing that cushions your rear from bumps and potholes.  Indeed, private taxi drivers have a colourful vocabulary which is a source of enjoyment to someone like me. The last driver praised the orderliness of the street layout in my colony, because once I directed him to my house by telling him to take the second ‘ainu’ (which crossed the second main road unlike the other avenues) there was no conjushion in his mind about reaching my address.

Once in a year, when we get the air coolers serviced, delays are bound to occur if a particular spare part peculiar to that make of cooler is not readily available.

According to our mechanic one year, the reason he had temporarily disappeared from the horizon after dismantling our coolers, was because the ‘chuch’ wasn’t available anywhere in town and he was told to try in a neighbouring town for the right kind of switch.

The greatest examples of Hinglish as understood by all can be found in any standard menu displayed by the standard roadside eatery : egg hamlet, bone 65 if the same in chicken is beyond your pocket, even adventurous Chinese preparations like chicken masooriya or a veg chopsi. And where best to eat these delectable dishes than in that ‘multi-cushion’ restaurant that I passed by in Koramangala, Bangalore, a few years ago!


17 responses »

  1. Tasha says:

    I loved this! I’m doing my dissertation on Hinglish food terms, i don’t suppose you have any more food terms that you know, and know the definitions for, so I can perhaps compare them against English ones?

    Would be really appreciated, thank you!!!!

    This is open to everyone, by the way, I’m focusing on Hinglish FOOD terminology and what it means in terms of your (our) identity as Indian people…

    Please and thank you!!!

    Email me at: natashachowdory@gmail.com if you have anything to add.

  2. Tasha says:

    I loved this! I’m doing my dissertation on Hinglish food terms, i don’t suppose you have any more food terms that you know, and know the definitions for, so I can perhaps compare them against English ones?

    Would be really appreciated, thank you!!!!

  3. Sonal Shree says:

    For Shail- Interesting one. Two fathers- one biological and the other Principal. ha ha.

  4. nadi says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Vimala Madon.

  5. vimala madon says:

    thanks so much all of you, vimala, Geetashree,Shernaz, Shail, Sonalshree and Beyniaz. I was out of town, in Pune, attending my niece’s wedding (also to a Spaniard – remember my blog, or is it blag, on the indo-spanish wedding?) so couldn’t comment earlier.

  6. sonal shree says:

    Sorry for the typo- I meant BLOG. See what your blog did to my English 😉

    • Ha! Ha! Sonal. This is funny. Blag for blog. Ha! Ha! How a post can influence a comment!

      • sonal shree says:

        You see Shail, when ‘multi cuisine’ can become ‘multi- cushion’, blog can easily be blag. Ha,ha 😉
        So when are you sharing your reserve of such words?

      • Now that you have asked Sonal, I shall tell you one. There was this gentleman at a place of work. His son was studying in one of the elite schools. Now, this was something he wanted to show off to his office colleagues. So, he got them all around him one day when the principal of his son’s school happened to visit him.
        He said, ” hello friends, just wanted to introduce you to the Father of my son.”

        Got it?

        The Principal was a Father of the School!!!

  7. sonal shree says:

    Shernaz and Shail, kindly contribute two such words from your kitty if possible. Don’t deprive us of a chance to smile.
    Nice blag Vimala. Enjoyed the ‘multi cushion’ bit.

    • Shernaz says:

      Sonal, here’s a phrase that has become a trite Gujju joke like Santa-Banta ones, but the words are really pronounced that way. “Rape the snakes” actually means…can you guess?

  8. beyniaz says:

    Looking forward to Part 2 with more ‘pidgins.’

  9. Dear Vimala,

    Enjoyed your post thoroughly although like Shernaz I was very much tempted to add some of the ones used here ( in the South.)


  10. Shernaz says:

    Truly enjoyed this one. I would have added some more to your collection, but I have deliberately forced myself to forget such words and phrases, because I almost started using them myself long ago.

  11. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Agree with Vimala. Enjoyed reading!

  12. vimala ramu says:

    A hilarious collection, Vimala, though I am sure it is nowhere being exhaustive !

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