Hello! Englishization Gathers Pace

Global Trends1 July 20143.1k

We've spoken before about how loanwords find their way into various languages and their usage becomes socially acceptable. 

These words are borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language directly without being translated. Luckily for us it's only ever one or two words at a time, so there will always be a firm need for localization!

As English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, with nearly one billion people having it as a second language, it's hardly surprising that everyday phrases and terms can crop up in other parts of the world, no matter how remote.

However, the Englishization that is taking place in Hindi-speaking provincial areas of India is not typical of how loanwords are used. 

What's behind the development? 

According to Craig Jefferey, a professor of development geography at Oxford University, words such as job, love story or adjust are now commonplace in Indian provincial cities and are routinely interspersed with Hindi when people are talking.

Writing for the BBC, he stated a surprisingly wide range of works have been introduced into Hindi – including swear words and military-based terms that are now being used in everyday life (for example, rations is used for food).

In his opinion, Bollywood has played a big role in the process. "A whole range of terms and words used in urban India can be traced back to fashionable films," he added. 

Another factor is the proliferation of mobile devices, as this has increased the understanding and recognition of certain English words. As Mr Jefferey pointed out, 'miss call' has become a popular verb, as it stands for phoning someone and ringing off before the person has time to answer so they know you are thinking of them. 

The future of loanwords

With English seemingly resurgent in India, it begs the question how important will the language be in the future? 

It is already the number one lender of words to other languages, with terms such as internet and hamburger recognized in almost any part of the world. The development of the global village means people from different cultures and backgrounds are increasingly comfortable using globalized terms. 

With Martin Haspelmath, a linguist at the Max Planck Institute, telling the Boston Globe that the extent to which a language loans out words is actually measure of its prestige, it's clearly a process that is unlikely to slow down. But that's the beauty of language, as it is always evolving.


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