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Now seekho Hinglish: British college offers course on hybrid language

The course was introduced partly due to India’s growing economic importance and to prepare British students who may take up jobs in India or in Indian companies based in the UK.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2018 20:31 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
A still from Jab Harry Met Sejal - a Bollywood film that uses Hinglish in its title.(File)

Don’t be surprised if a young Briton approaches you and asks for directions in your city in a mix of Hindi and English, or Hinglish – a reputed college in England has launched the first course of its kind to teach the unique hybrid language.

The growing use of Hinglish in films (including in titles such as Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal), television, newspaper headlines and everyday discourse has seen it being increasingly referred to in media courses, but Portsmouth College is the first to launch a course focused on it.

“We were quite surprised to receive the interest and caseload when we launched the pilot project. Its feedback means that we will offer a longer duration course to all students in the next academic year from September,” said James Watters, the head of curriculum at the college.

Offered to high-achieving students at the A level (equivalent to India’s +2), the course was introduced partly due to India’s growing economic importance and to prepare British students who may take up jobs in India or in Indian companies based in the UK.

Taught by Indian-origin teacher Viraj Shah, the course received enthusiastic feedback. Most of the students planned to go on to universities for degree courses that include a year of placement, with the possibility of completing the year in India.

“It was really interesting to learn about a new culture and how businesses operate, particularly in the technology industry. I would like to visit India, particularly Mumbai. I have never seen a Bollywood film but some were suggested in the course,” said student Evelyn Murray.

Watters said the idea was to offer the course, included in the college’s modern business language and culture programme, to raise awareness of Hinglish and how it is used in society and business.

“The course’s focus was on culture and reference to headlines and text in adverts, films and newspapers. Students learned some Hindi and practised speaking during lesson time individually, in pairs and as a group,” Watters said.

Hinglish involves seamless code-switching between Hindi and English and is distinct from the “Indian English” genre of writing, which refers to the unique Indian way in which English is used in literature, news discourse and everyday interactions.

The growing use of Hinglish has prompted linguists such as David Crystal to suggest that it may even outnumber the number of English-speaking people across the globe as India’s influence increases on the world stage.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 20:31 IST