Now English is second in number as most spoken language in India, with Hindi topping the chart as expected. What’s more, English speakers in India outnumber those in all of western Europe, not counting the United Kingdom. And Indian English-speakers are more than twice the UK’s population.

Sorry What!!!…. Did I say English….Ugh..My mistake..I wanna say Angrezi. Now just don’t ask the difference. It’s the same difference. Angrezi is way ahead of Tamil and marathi or once the second most widely spoken Bengali…or bengauli.


Hindi – 551.4 million

English – 125 million

Bengali – 91.1 million

Telgu – 85 million

Marathi – 84.2 million

Tamil – 66.7 million

Urdu – 59 million

Kannada – 50.8 million

Gujrati – 50.3 million

Oriya – 36.6 million

Malayalam- 33.8 million

Punjabi – 31.4 million

Assamese – 18.9 million

These facts emerge from recently released census 2001 data on bilingualism and trilingualism in India. Indians’ linguistic prowess stood revealed with as many as 255 million speaking at least two languages and 87.5 million speaking three or more. In other words, about a quarter of the population speaks more than one language.

An insight: How English mangled into Angrezi into Hinglish.

Leave alone English, in India every language spoken gets twisted with a slight change in topography. The vernacular deviations of a language are common to find all over the land.

Forget the Gujarati ‘snakes’ (snacks) and ‘takes’ (tax). Or the Bengali ‘brij’ (breeze) and ‘shit of paper’ (sheet of paper). Or the south Indian spelling of banana: bee-yay-yen-yay-yen-yay. Or the Punjabi celebration of ‘birdays’ (birthdays), especially if they fall on ‘Sacherdays’ (Saturdays) and the person concerned is of good ‘krakter’ (character). Punjab is also famous for its ‘loins’ (lions) and its ‘laiyers’ (lawyers).

Our orthography is even more inventive. ‘Child bear, sold hare’ (Chilled beer, sold here) might be an exaggeration, just about. But lots of shops sell ‘milk and cureds’ (curds). And restaurants serve ‘Chinees, Muglai and Conti’ (continental) food. Many a political speech is made from a ‘dias’ (dais) which may or may not be ‘miniscule’ (minuscule).

I distinctly remember a restaurant in Indore near Bus Adda, I was going through the menu, to order a meal when a strange dish name got my attention. “Kurd” – what in the world is that thing? I asked the waiter who was busy attending the quantity of customers that had swarmed in that day. He gave me an obnoxious look and I settled my eyes back to the menu for a closer look. I couldn’t get anything and turned the menu, where all the items of backpage were written in English, a very common practice in Indori restaurants. My mind just came out boggling and spatting, when I saw the English version of “KURD” – Curd. God, I cannot forget the fun we all friends have there over this simple spelling. But in Indore you’ll see a lot like this.
Advertisements always proclaim ‘Offer open till stocks last’, never ‘while stocks last’. ‘Till’ denotes termination (We will love each other till we die); ‘while’ denotes duration (We will love each other while we live). While, till? Termination, duration? KFP. Ki farak pehenda? (What difference does it make?)

It doesn’t. Like the use of the apostrophe ‘s’, which indicates a shortened or contracted form: ‘it’s’ for ‘it is’. Technically, in the other use of ‘its’, as a pronoun (Its price makes the Nano a great buy), the ‘s’ shouldn’t take an apostrophe. But who cares a flying fig for technicalities. We apostrophise at will. As in our wont. Or should that be ‘won’t’?

Fewer and fewer of us can tell the difference between ‘fewer’ and ‘lesser’. What’s that you say? ‘Fewer’ should be used when we are talking in numeric, or countable, terms: Fewer people (not ‘lesser’ people) attended today’s rally. ‘Lesser’ should be used in describing non-numeric quantity or magnitude: children of a lesser god; theft is a lesser crime than murder. But all of us swap our lessers and our fewers without notice.

We like to ‘er’, and generously add ‘er’ to words that don’t need it as a suffix. So neighbour becomes a ‘neighbourer’, preferably a ‘next-door neighbourer’, to distinguish him from the neighbourer living 50 doors down the road. And forger, as in someone who forges currency notes, becomes a ‘forgerer’.

We also tend to be nervous ‘the’-ists: we are never quite sure when to use ‘the’ and when not to. For example, all of us tend to talk on phone (not ‘the phone’). On the other hand, when we fly, we prefer to travel by ‘the plane’, rather than ‘by plane’, which may or may not be made by ‘the Boeing’.

When visiting someone in relation after a long time, its very customary to get a comment “Arrey tumhari height kitni lambi ho gayi hai” or over a phone when someone ask for dad, I say “Uncle woh to just abhi nikle hai“.

With such amalgamation, English is no longer virgin, and its dialect are interesting across India. The cross pollination of Hindi and English has given birth to something which gonna rule the world community due to its virtue of varying dialect.

To end with, I would like to tell a story again, happened in Indore only at Gurukripa – A restaurant more importantly treated than a temple by student community alike. There once, while waiting for our order to come:

Me: Bhai! Kuch pyaaz vagairah laga do tab tak. (Please serve some onion salad).

Waiter (very politely and innocently): “Sir, would you like to have pyaaz or onion” (Pyaaz is the what onion is called in Hindi).

Me: (WTF!!!) “If you would be kind enough to enlighten me with the difference between the two.

Waiter: “Sir, pyaaz is what you get served for free, onion is those small round onion soaked in vinegar, we charge for that thing.”

Me: “Bhai, tum to fir pyaaz hi le aao. Onion hum phir kabhi khayenge.” (Please bring pyaaz only, we’ll have onion some other day)

  1. […] English or Angrezi – It's Hinglish right away « Virtuosity – Yet an additional blog […]

  2. Harshit says:

    very entertaining and educating too…well done champ..!

  3. Harshit says:

    very ‘entratainng’ and ‘educsional’…..nice work champ..

  4. recepti says:

    thanks !! very helpful post!

  5. Hugh says:

    This is a really insightful post. I spent a great deal of time travelling around India during my gap year and it goes without saying that Hinglish definitely brings back memories. However, sometimes I noticed that these forms of English variants were used in place of Standard English. When it comes to official documents or public notices it is still important to maintain the correct use of English and not stray into Hinglish although it may be more commonly used. Using a translation agency is a quick and easy way to prevent language errors. I discovered they use real language professionals that translate chosen text into a target language so it reads perfectly.

    • anu-mantra says:

      Hi Hugh,

      Thanks for the appreciation.
      yes you are right, Hinglish is used more often in our day to day conversation. Official work is obvious to be done in proper language…

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