indian English

Indian English, Indianised English, Hinglish or the Indianisation of English?

We close Indian English month with a final guest post from Haresh Pandya. Haresh is a freelance journalist and teaches English in a college in Gujarat in India.


English has been used in strange ways by certain sets of Indians – not just the less-than-literate – since time immemorial. It is either because of habit or sheer ignorance of the correct manner of writing and speaking in what is actually a third language for most Indians (the other two being their respective mother tongue – and there are plenty of them – and Hindi).

In India, terms like parentless children and issueless couples are as common as jam-packed bus/train. Consider this sentence from a national newspaper:

“Cricketers and officials were air-dashing to the venues during the jam-packed Indian Premier League.”

But it baffles me that you hear so many people saying round circle, study room, thin pointed needle and tall high rise building. Most Indians love to say Manomhan Uncle Sonia Aunt and Adwani Sir, and not the other way round.

Instead of saying going shopping, some will say going marketing; an Indian politician once appealed to farmers to plant herbs in their backsides (backyards)! I have come across scores of Indians, including teachers and journalists, who, instead of using the word letterhead, invariably say letter-pad. It is always dickey and not the boot of the car. In Indian legal jargon, meanwhile, lifer is the word both for a life sentence and a person serving it. Headlines like ‘The Accused Gets Lifer‘ aren’t uncommon in Indian newspapers.

Talking about occupations, I’ve heard burglary for burglar, but drivery for driver, doctory for doctor or professory for professor? Yet this is precisely how many professions are described. New-generation Indians reared on a diet of the Internet, when seeking agreement are inclined to end their interrogative sentences with no?, instead of a contracted negative. So you would hear: “Aishwarya Rai is stunningly beautiful, no?” instead of “Aishwarya Rai is stunningly beautiful, isn’t she?”.

The winds of change have also affected the Hindi film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, where producers churn out Hindi-English titles to attract cinema-goers. Movies like Jab We Met (When We Met), Love Aaj Kal (Love Today Tomorrow), You Me Aur Hum (You I And We) and Love Sex Aur Dhokha (Love Sex And Betrayal) immediately come to mind.

Call it Indian English, Indianised English, Hinglish or the Indianisation of English, as some people do, it has its own charm. You may love it, laugh at it or even loathe it, you just cannot ignore the fact that it is here to stay. Ask the millions of Indians living all across the globe.

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Haresh Pandya

1 Comment

  • We Indians have our very own Private Limited lingo and its called: Henglis’
    No matter how well versed yourselves may be with British English and American English and what-not, sorry we no teach Henglis’ in no language school.

    Even our fish mongers and hawkers speak Henglis’ – Meddam Gurd marnin’

    Keep safe distance
    Horn please
    Bye Bye

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