Are you going ganja, yaar?

A new series of BBC Radio 4’s fascinating programme about language, Word of Mouth, started this week. One of the things they discussed was Hinglish, a blend of English, Hindi, Punjabi and other South Asian languages spoken in India and by people of Indian origin in the UK, and elsewhere.

In the UK, British Indians pepper their English with Hindi and Punjabi words and expressions, such as yaar (a friend), javaani (youth), ganja (bald), chamcha (a spoon, a lackey, or a sycophant). While in India, many people mix English words and phrases with their native languages, for example time kya hua hai? (what time is it?).

5 thoughts on “Are you going ganja, yaar?

  1. Listened to part of the show, it was pretty funny which alternatives for English words they use, or even use words which have no English equivalent :-). The most interesting to me was that especially little kids use this Hinglish as some kind of ‘secret language’, not knowing that they’re laying a base for learning new languages. Very cool :-D.

  2. even here in los angeles, where a good 2/3 of the friends I’ve made in university are Indian, Hinglish abounds. While for most of tem it’s just a synthesis, some of tem do it because they are not fluent in Hindi, or whichever language, and just pepper in the words they know so they don’t feel left out.

  3. This sort of lingual syncretism is very common. It would be an interesting study to find out if all peoples make the same substitutions when faced with the same 2nd languages. Maybe a pattern would emerge showing different languges to have the “best” words for different things. e.g. Maybe, the best language to get angry in is German, the best language to fall in love in is French or Chinese, or the best language to express a desire is Japanese, etc. Do certain combinations of consonants and vowels resonate better with certain feelings or different areas of the brain? Who knows…

  4. Recently I saw a Tshirt that read “koi f**king baat nahi hai yaar” – meaning “no big f**king deal, man.” The word was not asterisked, but I’m asterisking it here because it seems that otherwise I can’t post this.

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