India Debunked #4: Indianisms

I can now speak enough Hindi well enough to conduct several everyday transactions in it. But most of the time I don’t really need it, as I am now able to adapt my accent when speaking English to sound Indian. I’m a pedant when it comes to accents and pronunciation so this helps. I learned to speak three languages fluently as a child so that might have something to do with it. It is not uncommon to hear me lapsing from one accent to another whilst conversing in English, much to the amusement of my friends.

By doing all this, I can get my message across quicker and more clearly. Graeme especially benefits from this as I act as his emissary on conversations that are more complex than ‘good morning’ or ‘thank you’. Most of the time, I am just speaking English with an Indian accent.

India has contributed some useful words to the English language. Chutney, shampoo and jodhpur all provide a practical, succinct way of identifying a delicious vegetable-based condiment, emollient cleanser for hair and a type of riding trousers. Bungalow, catamaran, cashmere were also added to the vocabulary of luxurious living. And without the word ‘avatar’, we might never have had blue creatures popping out of our big screens in 3D.

However, being a great mother of invention, India has also created amazing array of new words not used anywhere else. This hybrid language is called Hinglish and is in turns practical and amusing. And as part of my assimilation into the Indian way of life, I find myself unconsciously using these more and more :-).

Here’s a sample of the best in bold. See if you can guess their meaning.


“Before we are deplane, I will change out of my night suit”

“Can we prepone this meeting as I have to leave the early as my grandfather expired yesterday?”

“I passed out in the 2000 batch

“I will do the needful and revert to you when the upgradation done”

“My boss is after my life / sitting on my head

“We need to conduct a fitment quickly to see if it will work out”

“I am not doing any timepass this morning”


Here are the answers.

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