Hindi , Hinglish and Hindustani


I and my blogger friend Himanshu got talking about Hindi and why People feel that speaking/ reading  Hindi is not “IN”  and decided to do some posts to express our views.

Let me clear some facts first.

Standard Hindi is our official language and NOT our national language . [ LINK ]

The link illustrates the usage of languages for the official purposes and Compilation of orders regarding the use of Hindi/NiyamPustakeng details the constitutional provisions regarding official languages; officially published in http://www.rajbhasha.nic.in/ the website ofDepartment of Official Language – Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India.

The language we speak is Hindustani which is a mixture of  Urdu and Hindi .

In the Hindi speaking belt of northern India the spoken language is a mixture of local dialects .

I have  given these links just to give some extra information to the readers.

How many of you knew these facts ?

My main aim to write this post is not to talk about the history, origin and to debate over why we do not have a National Language  or why Hindi is forced on non Hindi speaking states or for that matter is Hindi suppressing the regional languages ? My aim is to know why so many people mainly the younger generation of the Hindi speaking belt especially the big cities and metros  resents Hindi so much.

Here is an example : I went to visit a friend . Her small son was at the dinner table . I had seen him for the first time so began asking some basic questions in Hindi . The boy looked at me with a blank face and then turned to his mother with quizzing eyes. The mother told  that the boy understands only English  and in their home no one spoke Hindi ( they are North Indians) .I was stunned. On asking the reason behind this decision she explained that the child has to prepare for the play school and  speaking both Hindi and English will confuse him. Another mother I know talks to her girl in Hinglish ,” Beta khana finish karo soon. ” or “Aapne hands dirty kyun kiye chalo go wash karo. ”  Is this not going to make the child wonder what language exactly is she learning .

I was speechless . If we are going to guide  our children like these mothers how can we expect them to value their heritage.

Someone came to my home and said ,”Hello Beta ji kaise ho ?” I said ,” Namaste , main achchi hun”. She replied , ” wo to tu hai hi hahahaha”. I just smiled .

In Delhi I have noticed  the infulence of Panjabi in Hindi . ” Aap khao”  instead of  “khaiye “. The use of aao, jao, khao is with Tum and not with aap but it is commonly used here.

Another thing I noticed even in the Hindi news readers – They all say Namashkar instead of namaskar. Again a common blunder.

I have often seen mothers talking to their little ones in Hinglish  which seems to be an accepted language of masses these days .

Almost everyone seems to be speaking this combination of Hindi and English. Even in Media we see the Hindi new channels  using English words most of the time . I notice that on being asked a question in Hindi many of the cine stars , politicians etc start with a sentence in Hindi and then  shift to English . The Hindi newspapers like Navbharat Times use so many English words written in devnagri script.

Many families use English as   spoken language at home even in gatherings. It is below their dignity to speak Hindi even though it is their mother tongue .

The younger generation  studying in public and private school look down upon those who study in Hindi medium schools or can not speak proper English.

Watching English movies, reading English novels, magazines , newspapers and discussing them with pride is not uncommon.

When I asked a group of teenagers what’s wrong is speaking Hindi or reading it  , they said that it was not ” IN” . Most of them said their parents also did not know much Hindi . Only the grandparents spoke either the regional language or Hindi.

I find it very disturbing that  the Hindi speaking belt feels ashamed  to communicated in their mother tongue . I have seen people of small town and  specific areas in some states in Northern India  speak Hindi mixed with the dialect of that specific area but in big cities and metros the language is limited to  some people only. In social gatherings English is THE language for most of them.

I introduced children’s books in Hindi, comics etc and took kids to show  children’s Hindi film like “Makadi” etc but as they grew up and began to chart their own path  their attention and interest changed from Hindi to English. I still tell them to explore poetry, fiction written in Hindi but they find it cumbersome and their only exposure to Hindi literature is through academics.

As Hindi is losing ground Hinglish is becoming popular .

Very few people read Hindi literature  and I was shocked when a Kabad wala told me that if I need to find second-hand Hindi  literature I will get the books by kilogram whereas English novels etc cost a fortune .

This shows the state of Hindi literature in big cities.

I bought two novels of Shivani and a few of other authors for just 300 Rs. A second-hand English edition of Harry Potter cost me 400 Rs.

Children these days hardly know about any of the Authors of Hindi Literature though some may have heard the famous names but I found that none of them knew anything about the great works of literature they had written.

The lot seemed unconcerned about their ignorance and one of them said ,” I hate Hindi you know ya it’s so boring  ya  and so difficult”. She made a face and the rest simple nodded in agreement.

These kids read Hindi in schools only till it is compulsory and then give it up , talking about it as if it was some burden they got rid of. English has become a sign for being ” literate ” “élite” and ” educated” ..I hate it. I am not against English language but I want  Hindi is get back its place.

I was born in a family of educationists where  the love for language was stressed upon and even as a little child we were introduced to paperbacks of simple stories for children as Jatak Katha, Panchtantra and many such colorful books in Hindi including Amarchitra katha etc. Later we graduated to reading great poets like Dinkar, Maithili Sharan Gupt, MahadeviVarma, Sumitranandan pant, Nirala, Jaishankar Prasad Harivansh Rai Bachchan,  and all the others. I remember reciting Kamayani and Madhudhala, reding out Faiz and Firaq with my father  and enjoying it. Going to a poetry reading event  is cool but attending a kavya sammelan is not worth. I remember listening to Hullad muradabdi and kaka Hathrasi  as a kid and I wonder how many kids  or young people these days ever go for any such Mushairas and kavi sammelans.

Dad inculcated a habit of reading in libraries as gave me a list of authors and books to hunt and read, then we would discuss them too. That way he made sure I actually read them.

I also enjoyed chacha chawdhary  and sabu , champak , Nandan and many beautiful translations of Russian books for children published by PPH ( now closed) .  They were a part of  my daily reading. Dharamyug and Saptahik Hindustan were some other magazines we read at home along with the ones in English, that way a balance was created.

My parents put me in a Hindi Medium school in the early years so that my foundation becomes strong and that truly helped. I never felt ashamed or embarrassed to tell my so-called public school friends about it but I could see that my fellow students paid hefty amounts to  join ” English Speaking courses” to match these Public school kids. They would struggle  to speak broken English just to impress others. I found it very sad but that’s the truth of our times.

At least I did not become part of the generation which does not know anything about their own mother tongue.

That is what I did with my sons . I bought many books from Children’s Book Trust and Hindi paperbacks and Pocket books and we read them together. So we have a small Hindi books collection at Home.

I know some families who read Gulshan Nanda and many such writers regularly  buying  from footpath stalls or getting them from lending libraries.

The masses will watch the sas bahu serials on TV and go to watch Bollywood blockbusters but feel embarrassed in picking up a Hindi newspaper to read leave aside Hindi literature.

What legacy  are these people  passing on to our future generations  when they themselves are not keen to promote Hindi language and prefer English to Hindi.

If a non Hindi speaking person is ignorant about the language I would not mind but if a Hindi speaking person doesn’t want to be associated with Hindi it is shameful.


Hindi may not be our National  language but it is a language of the masses and at least I  take pride in speaking , writing and reading this beautiful language .

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25 thoughts on “Hindi , Hinglish and Hindustani

  1. It is the truth, Tiku. I am not very good with Hindi, having lived all my life in non-Hindi speaking areas. In fact I actually used to read Hindi along with my son, so that I got a good grounding in it. I still have trouble writing in Devnagri. My father used to say, you can never become a good writer if you are poor in vernacular. But thanks to him and Ma, I did read the Madhushala, Godaan and some Gulshan Nanda.

    Nowadays my Hindi reading is restricted to reading the Geeta, which I am trying to memorize. My elder son is equally Hindi challenged tho thankfully the younger one finds no problem with it

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  2. This is the common problem. The dreaded ‘IN’ thing. Society’s role models should understand that kids follow them with all their heart.
    The language with such refinement and grace is left out in oblivion. What makes me even more sad is that people don’t understand what they are missing and that includes Hindi comics as you mentioned!
    Many people put up an argument that If English is not learnt since childhood, kids will never be good at it. But then I see my father who formally started studying the language after reaching class 7th and my dear grand-father took it up after his 10th! They both are excellent orators and I have seen them mesmerize gathering of hundreds with ease. But we need to get our basics right.
    An Indian mind thinks in Hindi/local language and that comes naturally to us.

    A great post. Thanks a tonne!

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  3. यकीनन thought प्रवोकिंग है ये पोस्ट, उम्मीद है लोग पहल करेंगें उस ज़ुबान को इस्तेमाल करने की जो सब को जोडने का दम रखती है! I mean the language that हिन्दी सिनेमा uses!

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  4. First of all, Tiku, this made an excellent post. Secondly, I have to confess I am not fluent in my mother-tongue either, as my parents used to talk to us only in English, when we were kids. I do want to rectify this with my kid, and I do try quite hard to speak basic things in my mother-tongue, so he understands and in the course of time, also begins to speak the language.

    Just last week, I was talking to a woman, who is Italian, her husband is German, and guess what? Her 3-year old boy can talk all three languages – Italian, German and English!! Isn’t it amazing how smart Kids are?

    It is us parents who must make an effort.

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  5. my mother tongue is Bengali and fluent in that 🙂 lost touch with writing it..so I can only read it now.
    Even the Hindi newspapers use hinglish now that too in devanagri script!!

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  6. Very good post Tiku.

    Its not only Hindi, which is facing the discrimination among this generation parents, but almost all regional languages….and here I can talk for Tamil like the same way, u’ve done for hindi.

    From whatever I’ve read, its during the child’s early days that the language skills are developed….so the more languages, the more the child becomes fluent with a lang…there is no confusion to the child on this.

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  7. I am so happy that my mother made it a point to speak to my brother and me in both Malayalam and English. So when we both started school, we knew to converse in both languages. For me Hindi is a tough bet, studied it for just 4 years, and skipped over to french. My brother in fact, never studied Hindi.. he just took french all through school.

    I have thought that when I have a kid, I would want my kid to know Malayalam, Hindi and English… and seeing what Pallavi has said, I see children will pick it up, just that we need to teach them.

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  8. A post after my own heart, Tikuli!

    I think this is happening with all Indian Languages, where it has almost become ‘fashionable’ to not speak our mother tongues. I know families here who speak only in English, and some who speak English and Hindi but not their mother tongue. Somehow speaking one’s own mother tongue is not ‘hip’ enough 😦 A friend of mine asks how I manage to speak so much Malayalam to my daughter.

    Although I am no language fanatist, I do think it is an important part of our identity, and if we can give our children the gift of knowing more than one language, we should.

    I have some french and spanish friends here, and am amazed at how beautifully their children talk their native languages. They are beautifully fluent in 2 or more languages, while we in India, seem to have a mental block. Most of us, in India, could easily be fluent in atleast 3 languages. I grew up in the north, so I grew up knowing English, Hindi and Malayalam, which I think has really helped me. I can understand( and speak to an extent), various other languages, and that I think is big advantage.

    Although I have to confess, I do end up speaking english words along with Malayalam with my daughter – it just seems to happen 😦 I guess I will have to make a bigger effort to speak grammatically correct malayam to her.

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  9. I think I will be the only dissenting voice here. 🙂 New languages develop from a mixture of other languages. In Kerala they call it Manglish. They probably have similar names in most regions. In the North you call it Hinglish.
    But is any language pure and original?? Haven’t they all been borne from a couple of previous languages?? What you call Hinglish today may become a language on its own in the future. We are perhaps just witnessing the change, the evolving of something new in its early stages. Not you, not me, not anyone can stop the change that is happening or the developing of a new language. Malayalam is a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit. I am sure people in those days too talked about how their language was losing its essence. The supporters of each may have lamented that Malayalam is neither Sanskrit or Tamil, just a mixture (like the hinglish). But right now its an accepted language to preserve whose purity, ironically so, people are trying, forgetting the lessons of history or the birth of the language itself.

    I also take exception to: “Many families use English as spoken language at home even in gatherings. It is below their dignity to speak Hindi even though it is their mother tongue.”
    Will you say the same of a family that speaks the local dialect mixed with Hindi?? That it is below their dignity to talk in their local dialect?? Why are we so quick to criticize when someone talks in English??

    I hope you don’t mind me airing my views. I find language chauvinism disagreeable and amusing at the same time.

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  10. Contrary to belief, a child can learn and speak several languages and not get confused at all. In fact a child picks up language skills very fast. One should encourage the speaking of one’s mother tongue at least at home so that the children are able to converse with older members or those who can’t speak English.

    If we started thinking of English as just another language that is required to get on in the working world, without imparting it any colonial connotations, it would not rankle so much.

    However, I agree with Shail on some points. Today many multi-lingual and multi-regional marriages are taking place and the couple need to converse in some common language, which automatically becomes English for various reasons. And when they have kids they begin speaking that language too.

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  11. @ Shail- Hey! Your points are all valid and interesting. I understand the sentiments behind them. And i do not think anybody has any grudges against the language i.e. English.
    But before i go ahead, putting things in perspective would be very important. British ruled us for 200 years. When someone is ruled, the ruler imposes certain things on the ruled. English was introduced in India to create “clerks who are able to translate and work for us.” Ones knowing the language would get Sarkaari naukari and become babus which would give them some clout in society. English slowly became the language of elite.
    Post-independent India saw the same babus cling to the same old system. Today English has become a language of social exclusion on which the upper crust of Indian Middle class and high classes preside. Rest of Indians are either victims of this apartheid or aspirants. The ability to speak with the right accent and fluency dictates all social norms of conversation!
    Was English not meant to be just a mode, to communicate with foreigners? And i think if a country can’t communicate within itself, communicating with foreigners won’t be a big help. 77% of Indians don’t know English and are not likely to in near future…
    Believe it or not, In a nation’s development, keeping it’s culture intact plays a very important hand. Why to discard the ethnic Indian languages which have thousands of years of development behind them?

    Regards

    P.S- Krishna Gaatha written by Cherrussiri Namboodri in Malayalam will not be a pleasure to read in Manglish and same goes with Geeta which could never be read in Hinglish..!

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  12. You have valid points. Its not about fanaticism. Those who are earning their livelihood by way of Hindi do not speak that language in public like Bollywood film stars!Others also feel ‘Below standard’ if they converse in Hindi. And long long ago I had written a short poem about Hindi fanatics which I remember vaguely-
    “Hindi divas par Hindi premi shaan se hai ceekhte,
    ‘We want Hindi’ ka hai naare lagate!”

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  13. this ones from the movie “Khuda Ke Liye” : “jo log AC ki hawa khaate hai ya farm houses mein chuttiya manate hai……. fir sapne US mein settle hone ke dekhte hai……. unn logo ki iss desh ko zarurat nahi”

    but main isse criticize nahi karta……. we got to flow with the tide….. but i have seen some exceptions….. You know Lakshmi Ranjan……. Yea LR from BPL……. he had a Son recently….. about 5-6 months back……… they have language crises in ther family…….. He is from Karnataka…. his wife is from Gaziabaad (yea, noida ke saath wala gaziabaad and don’t ask me how :D) but now they are trying to induce both the languages……..

    so it’s not that bad…….. and kids get multilingual with this…..

    and yea, abt literature…… i don’t know….. never liked it…. leave Senior Bachchan Saab….. i didn’t even like reading Cha Cha Chaudhary…… yea …and it’s not only with hindi…. it’s with English too…… though i love watching their movies because of the variety of content…..but never liked their music……….

    baki….. time changes……. you are worried about Hindi….. i hate myself for not knowing my mother tongue … Kumaoni…… but again……. time changes………..

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  14. You are talking about Hindi what about those regional languages even of Hindi belts or else where .Most of them dried out –how the narratives and folklore s of regional languages had been dying with every passing moments. As a child i had got the privilege to listen those rural stories with beautiful poems and songs in regional languages.Now i regret my ignorance of the language and wish i would have compiled all those stories of verses and poems in the regional languages.

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  15. You talk about the Hindi Belt that refuses to learn Hindi!…but Hindi + a regional language is forced on non-Hindi speaking states…learning one language is a tough ask and I have suffered with about 5 languages in the 5 different states my father got transfered to during my childhood.
    I think Hindi will survive because of Bollywood…Hindi with an English accent!
    Our leaders do need to be child friendly to encourage language…there will be no love for a language that is forced on them.

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  16. आप ने बिलकुल सही कहा है | आज कल के माता पिता भी अपने बच्चे से बचपन से ही इंग्लिश में बात करते हैं परन्तु हम हिंदी को नकार नहीं सकते |हालांकि ये अच्छी बात है कि हम वैश्वीकरण के युग में जी रहे हैं और हमें क्षेत्रीय ना होके वैश्विक होना चाहिए |

    please give me your true response after reading my comment in Hindi .Are you not so amazed or confused.

    pls read that:
    p4poetry.com/author/anujsrivastava/
    http://anuj-srivastava.blogspot.com/

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  17. bahut accha lika aapne…. per yeah article hindi mai bhi hota to accha hota….

    meri kavita hindi main or english main hoti hai..mai to hindi parhi nahi parntu HAs or IAS ki hindi pariksha pass kar li thi jub ke hindi parne wale log nahi kar paye

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  18. Another point: Knowledge of Hinglish does not entail multilingualism; indeed, it entails that one is neither fluent in English nor Hindi. Why? Because it’s like a pidgin. When you incorporate aspects of one language into another, completely unrelated language, neither language is spoken eloquently. Are you aware of the national language in Papua New Guinea? It’s called Tok Pisin, or literally “Talk Pidgin”. When people from this nation speak this language, it sounds basically like broken English, with a few native words thrown in. Are you fond of sounding like that? If so, I highly suggest you keep waving the banner of “Youngistan” and continue speaking your bastardized lingo. Soon, we may have as much national identity as some West African nation – lacking beauty, respect, identity.

    The comment directly above by renukakkar epitomizes the struggle; it praises the article, and yet it is written in Hinglish. This is utterly depressing. Big media and Bollywood is largely responsible for this change. No, it is not natural. Do you see this change occurring in China, where they have a strong sense of national identity? How about the Arab World, where not even the monarchs or presidents have knowledge of English? How about Japan – the hyper-modern, super-advanced nation on the Eastern fringe of Asia? No. So, what makes India so susceptible to such sweeping change? Mark my words: this is not characteristic of natural linguistic evolution. And even then, are you keen on losing your mother tongue? Are you apt on living in a colonial hangover forever? Stop kissing the bums of the Europeans, for everyone’s sake. There’s nothing “cool”, or “prestigious” about speaking a language that’s spoken everywhere else. What is “cool” and “prestigious” is being able to speak your own language – a language that has its own amazing history, and intriguing literature. Please, for everyone’s sake, Learn Hindi. Speak Hindi. For all of my fellow Tamils (Yes, I am Tamil), Learn Tamil. Speak Tamil. For every other region – speak the language of your ancestors. If you want to be bilingual, then go ahead and be bilingual. HOWEVER, never try and mix oil and water. Hindi and English do not mix, and they should not mix. I do not want to have Hindi be reclassified as a creole language. DO YOU?

    Dhanyavaad (Yes, for all you youngsters, it’s Dhanyavaad, not “Shukriya”, or “Thannx”, as you might erroneously presume).

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  19. It’s also happening Bangladesh as well. I find it that whoever adds English to their sentences will make them look educated and well literate. To me, it’s absolute hogwash! Despite me trying to learn correct Bengali, my parents speak to me in English. Whenever I ask a question in Bengali to my dad in Bengali, he answers me in full English which is annoying. One day my mom said that Bengali girls are only meant speak “pure” Bengali which we boys have to adjust to being “rough” and “tough” by adding English words to our Bengali dialogues. Now that’s absurd because my mom doesn’t speak “pure” Bengali! She talks to me half Bengali and half English. And when we go to Bangladesh, my sly, astute relatives tries to use me as an English enhancer for them!

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  20. Jo grmahat aur apnapan apni matra bhasha mein bat karne se milti hai wah kisi anya bhasha mein nahi milti. Mera manana hai ki U belong to Hindi speaking belt this language if aap kitni bhi bhashain seekh lein par jo apnapan apni Hindi mein hai wo kisi anya bhash mein nahi.It’s my appeal to every one that please don’t keep your kids away from the beauty of

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