“Hinglish” ???

There’s Spanglish, there’s Engrish, but what’s the word for mixing English and Hindi? Have there been any coined terms? As a native English speaker, who eventually learned broken Hindi and Punjabi, I am curious to know.

The little I know of Hindi and Punjabi is in spite of the learning of languages having been severely hindered by the moronic teaching style of a very belligerent and unprepared faculty. Our Hindi/Punjabi classes consisted of this: Teachers would help the whole class memorize the alphabets and vowels. We became able at constructing phonetic words into Hindi/Punjabi text. Once we were marginal at reading and writing phonetically, the teachers considered their mission accomplished and phoned it in from there on out. We were expected to fully understand structure, grammar and full bodies of text in both languages. And in the exams we were expected to read and comprehend the questions, answer them correctly, in paragraph form, in Hindi/Punjabi, with marks deducted for incorrect spelling and grammar and even content. I’m not sure I can even get across how preposterous it was.

So the majority of us cheated. The honor-roll kids “mugged up”, meaning they memorized every question and answer verbatim so that they could at least pass. But not one American kid had their sights set on getting high marks in Hindi/Punjabi. I had a classmate who refused to participate in this kind of stupidity, so in the exams she signed her name to a blank page, slammed it on the teacher’s desk, and stormed out. She didn’t care if she failed – the teachers failed us, and she wanted to make that point. Sometimes I wrote my answers in English using the Hindi/Punjabi alphabet to prove another point all-together.

Most of the Hindi/Punjabi teachers were a-holes about it and had no problem failing us. Still, certain Hindi words found their places in our own vernacular. “Don’t be a cunjoossie” was popular and the word cunjoossie, which means stingy, turned into an english adjective: “cunjoossed” – as in “You’re so cunjoossed“. “Chappal”, the Hindi word for sandal/flip-flop/thong, was a word that was impossible to resist using daily. “WHERE ARE MY CHAPPALS?” — “HAS ANYONE SEEN MY CHAPPALS?” … every morning.

In town, I read all the Hindi signage and billboards I could. If I wasn’t gonna get it in class, I may as well try on the streets. The joke was on me when a word I just expended a lot of effort to spell out turned out to be English! Like “Tarzan” or “Telephone” in the case of Bidi’s (those cheap cigarettes wrapped in leaves).

One of my favorite words is “chumchi“, still used to this day, for lack of any good English counterpart. A chumchi is like what Smithers is to Mr. Burns: A die-hard ass-kisser who thinks they have more to gain by sucking up to one powerful person, even if it’s at the expense of friendship with anyone. At boarding school, there were plenty of chumchis.

4 Replies to ““Hinglish” ???”

  1. As I recall they call that mixed English-Hindi-Punjabi thing “Kitchari” like the mixed mung bean and rice dish.

  2. Hey, it’s M. I forgot about Chumchi but still think of people as conjoosed. As you might know I learned English in India, Spanish being my native language, which I quickly forgot, but relearned 20 years later. When we got there, the Spanish word “Chancleta” helped me learn Chappal (before spoke English). 20 years later the word Chappal helped me relearn Chancleta once I started to learn Spanish again. Relearning Spanish, beginning with the alphabet showed me how impossible it would have been for us to use their teaching methods for anything but what we did!!I thought I was the only one who phonetically wrote out my exam answers in English using the Punjabi/Hindi alphabet. Thanks for

  3. I always looked at the picture, then pretty much just rearranged the words from the questions to get my ‘answers’. I don’t remember anyone caring if we passed or failed. I figured they didn’t want to send failing marks home to parents – just like they checked our letters home for anything objectionable (the ones not copied entirely off the blackboard). “You don’t want your parents to worry, do you?” Do you think our parents really thought we were coming up with that stuff ourselves? “I trust that God and Guru find you in the best of health and happiness.” This from a 7 year old?!

    Anyways, I’m off topic – I think my teacher for this class was not so bad compared to some others. She wore a scarf over one side always, where she had lost an arm. I heard she had it out the window driving on the narrow roads up there and another vehicle came by too close and took it right off…

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