Amglish In, Like, Ten Easy Less

Arthur E. Rowse

Part 9

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India is a land of many tongues with no one language other than possibly English serving the whole nation. Until recent decades, Hindi had the most speakers, and British English served as a lingua franca (bridge language) for the nation. More recently, Indians have switched to American accents in order to handle the hundreds of thousands of service jobs outsourced by U.S. corporations.

Hinglish is a mix of Hindi and English, with an Indian accent that sometimes renders it difficult for native English speakers to fully understand. Examples include badmash (naughty), timepa.s.s (spare time), and fundoo, a version of cool.

Much of Hinglish comes from advertising agencies. The result is lots of mixed messages, such as aThanda mani, Hungry kya?a and aWhat your bahana is?a c.o.keas slogan in India is aLife ho to aisia (Life should be like this).

In 2006, Baljinder K. Mahal, a teacher in Derby, England, created a dictionary ent.i.tled The Queenas Hinglish: How to Speak Pukka. It features lots of verbal blends of Hindi, Urdu, and Punjab, lingos that add to the English already in Hinglish. Among the bookas Hinglish words are airdash (to travel by plane), would-be (fianc or fiance), eye-teasing (s.e.xual hara.s.sment of women in public), postwalla (postal worker), freshie (new immigrant), and filmi (drama).

Indian movies have become powerful forces in spreading English. Although Hindi is the main language of Bollywood films from Mumbai, a growing amount of dialogue is in English, particularly in song lyrics. Bollywood, a portmanteau of Bombay (the former Mumbai) and Hollywood, has been especially instrumental in spreading English internationally since the 1970s when India became the worldas largest film producer.

Back in the States, some Americans who have lost jobs to India have coined the word Bangalore, as in aIave been Bangalored.a Translation: aMy job has been sent to Bangalore,a a hub of such business in India.


This is a combination of English and Hungarian, often in the same sentence. An example from a blog called aThe Great Hungarian Experimenta is the following: aSzia Emily! Thank you a konyvet! You are very aranyos! Elkezdtem to read it, I like it nagyon. Koszi again! Take care.a Translation: aHi Emily, thank you for the book. You are wonderful. I started to read it, I like it greatly. Thanks again! Take care.a Nick Grossman, a Hungarian native living in the United States, says English words appear regularly in Hungarian news reports. Sample words (including a misspelling) found in January 2011 included monitoring, parlament, sport, and forum.


Not surprisingly, there has been a ma.s.sive influx of Amglish in Italy, the father of Latin and the great-granddaddy of many English words. By now, Greek, Latin, English, and Italian have become so intertwined that it is hard to tell which part comes from which language or all of them. If you asked a native if thatas true, the likely answer now would be ayes, yes,a not asi, si.a The latest wave is a brash blend of Italian and English words, such as stoppare, fastforwardare, monitorizzare, and editare. Then there are shopping, la pop art, footing (for running), and basket (for basketball). To share is sherare instead of that mouthful condividere. As a result, it would not be surprising to hear an Italian say, aEgo shopping per la pop art . . .a The newspaper word for help-wanted ads has become miojob. A random front page of the daily La Repubblica had more than three dozen English words, including foto, graphic novel, star control, shopping, news, style, torture, design, amnesty, showroom, sport, forum, topless, single, s.e.xy, username, pa.s.sword, help, online, blog, and podcast. Many advertisers a.s.sume that all Italians can read English.


According to T. Kaori Kitao, professor of art history at Swarthmore College, j.a.pan is unique among nations for the prominence it gives to English, especially the American variety, in the countryas culture. Much of the influence no doubt comes from the occupation of the country by Americans after World War II.

Alexander Michaelson says newspapers and magazines often use English-derived words, also known as wasei eigo, written in katakana, a phonetic syllabary that represents foreign words in j.a.panese. He added that English words are particularly common in j.a.panese fashion magazines, such as Glamour and Miss. For those who donat know j.a.panese, there are computer plug-in translators on search engines to render everything into English.

The j.a.panese are especially ingenious at creating English words for their own use. Samples from include power hara.s.sment (bullying) and paper driver (a person who has a license but no car).

In katakana, the English word sensation becomes senseshon, charming becomes chamingu, shampoo becomes shanpu, s.e.xy becomes sekushi, beer becomes biru, and a baseball out and strikeout become besuboru auto and sutraiku-auto, with a strong accent on the final syllables of the last two terms. The letters AV, which normally mean audiovisual, refer also to adult video (p.o.r.n) in j.a.pan.

Michaelson adds Makudonarudo for McDonaldas (or just plain Makku), Sutaba for Starbucks, and dokuta-sutoppu (p.r.o.nounced adoctor stopa) for a doctoras order to stop drinking or eating so much. Many English words are conveyed to young j.a.panese through music lyrics, which can be either in English or j.a.panese, with a healthy amount of wasei eigo.

J-rock refers to j.a.panese rock music, and Ellegarden is the name of a punk rock band that often uses English words as lyrics. One such song is t.i.tled Windy Day. Another is Santa Claus, which is sung partly in j.a.panese, partly in English.


Konglish describes several types of Korean and English mixtures. One is anglicized Korean with Latin letters of the alphabet. Examples of such words are: ge-im for game, bi-di-o for video, syo-ping for shopping, cho-ko-lit for chocolate, bol-pen for ballpoint pen, a-I-seu-keu-rim for ice cream, and haem-beo-geo for hamburger.

Another type of Konglish is transmogrified English with results that are often hilarious. For example, a sign for a traditional barbecue comes out as legitimate barbecue. Another is a sign in a store window saying aFamily Photo,a with a line that reads, aMemorize Your Marriage.a9 Koreans also like to shorten long words in ways that even Americans themselves might envy. For example, an office-hotel complex boils down to officetel, a word processor becomes wo-pro, and a digital camera becomes di-ca.

Koreans are especially clever at fabricating words with English letters such as skinship, which means physical contact between two or more people that is not necessarily s.e.xual. Another is hwai-ting, p.r.o.nounced like fighting (with heavy emphasis on the last syllable), a term for an all-purpose type of cheering or encouragement.

Korea Times columnist Jon Huer, who supplied the above examples, says Koreans aare ingenious in creating all sorts of combinations, subtractions, modifications, distortions . . . to suit their purpose. There are literally hundreds of such Konglish inventions and creations in use.a Manglish.

At first, Manglish and Singlish seem to be essentially the same, but Manglish is said to represent more of a Malaysian influence in the ports of Malacca and Penang. Unlike Singlish, it doesnat follow any grammatical rules. As a result, some of its variations are not understandable to people speaking other versions. It might be said, therefore, that English is more mangled in Manglish than in Singlish.

According to Wikipedia, Manglish grew out of street lingo in Malaya, while English prevailed in British administrative offices. In Malaysia, the Chinese tend to speak Malay when conversing with other Chinese, but they speak English when they converse with other Chinese in Singapore.


English is one of two official languages of Pakistan. It is the language of government, the courts, and the media, although Urdu, the national language, has more speakers. Most large daily papers are published in English or have English editions. English is also taught in school, where much of the instruction in other courses is also in English. Almost all Pakistanis know at least some English words.

Like India, Pakistan first learned English from its early British occupiers, which explains the predominant British accent. But it is changing to American, largely because of the substantial influence of U.S. films and TV, and more recently the presence of many American military and security personnel.

However, English words are sometimes hard to understand because of native accents and frequent misspellings, this according to the Business Rules Forum, an international organization seeking to make business firms more effective. An item on its site says, aThe chief reason for the misspellings is because [forum] members love to parody Pakistanis.a If a word is accidentally misspelled in a leading Pakistani newspaper or journal, forum members are likely to quickly pick up the mistake and adopt it as their own. An example is the common phrase agoing for the jugular vein.a Itas more likely to come out as ajaguar vein.a Among English terms, according to various sources, are shopper, not as a person but as a bag; open/close, with the meaning of turning something on or off; get no lift (receive no attention or a.s.sistance); tight in the sense of high quality; and being out of station (being out of town).

As for Paklish, Arif Khan, a writer for, says many Pakistanis think in Urdu and speak in English. He says an example of the mixture would occur if a young Pakistani phoned his American girlfriend and said, aMy heart was wanting kay I talk with you.a (Kay in Urdu means that.) Khan cites another example: a notice to a bank customer about a withdrawal of seventy-five rupees: aFor issuing new cheque book we charge RS. 75/a". Yeh amount aap kay account mien debit kar dee gai thee.a At that point, a nervous customer might want to look for another bank and check the bank balance.


This is a lingo spoken (and written) not only in Portugal and Brazil but in areas of the United States by heirs of Portuguese immigrants going back hundreds of years. The areas include parts of California, Hawaii, and eastern Ma.s.sachusetts.

Maria Angela Loguercio Bouskela, a native Brazilian doctor, says that in the last ten years English has become much more popular with Brazilians as they move up the economic ladder in tandem with the countryas economy. Travel to the United States has also increased substantially.10 Examples of Portuglish words that are similar to Spanglish are apontamento (appointment), atachar (attach), comutar (commute), deletar (delete), escore (score), friza (freezer), inicializar (initialize), resetar (reset), and scanear (scan).

However, the government pa.s.sed a law in 1999 that forbids the use of foreign expressions in public doc.u.ments. It was a reaction to the frequent use of American English terms such as boom, delivery, fast food, personal banking, rock, site, striptease, and videotape.

Portuguese Impressions, a blog on the WordPress website, provides additional examples of written Portuglish by exchange students from Brazil.


For nearly three centuries, Russians took the advice of Czar Peter the Great to awrite everything in the Russian language, not making use of foreign words and terms.a But everything changed after the fall of communism and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Suddenly the country became caught in the headlights of Western culture and business. At the time, Russians had few linguistic terms to deal with the rest of the world, so they simply transliterated English terms into Russian.

Feodor Bratenkov, a native of St. Petersburg, reports that athe number of Americanisms became so enormous that one needs many pages to write all of them.a11 They include such terms as offsh.o.r.e, roam, site, file, mixer, toaster, roast, shaker, bowling, skateboard, s...o...b..ard, biker, fitness, security, broker, teenager, parking, microvan, showroom, prime time, blockbuster, and multiplex.

Although Runglish (a.k.a. Ringlish or Russlish) has been kicked around for years by humorists, the first practical use of it was claimed by Russian astronaut Sergei Krikalyov, who reported that the mixture of Russian and English was used by him and his fellow astronauts in 2000 at the International s.p.a.ce Station. A similar scene occurs in Arthur C. Clarkeas novel, 2010: Odyssey Two, about a s.p.a.ceship crew that started a aStamp Out Russlisha drive.12 Brief Backlash.

By 2007, Russian leaders had apparently had their fill of Americanisms. They declared it athe Year of the Russian Language,a hoping to stop young Russians from picking up and pa.s.sing on words mostly from MTV, the international music channel. But Yuri Prokhorov, chief of the Russian State Inst.i.tute of Foreign Languages, admitted at the time that there was no way to stop such a trend. A bigger problem, he added, was the failure of many Russians to use their own language properly.

By 2011, Bratenkov reported that Runglish had become even more prevalent. He said a random review of the Russian news agency revealed a headline saying in phonetic Russian that a supermarket chain named OKAY had shut down all its supermarkets in St. Petersburg. The story included Cyrillic spellings of supermarket, retailer, and top manager.

He says Runglish is especially prominent in the public relations field. If you know Cyrillic letters but donat know Russian, you might be able to determine the meaning of many current words for such things as positive PR and negative PR.13 A version of Runglish lives in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, where Russian-Americans frequently get away from either Russian or English with such terms as kool, koka-kola, and friendessi (girlfriends), words that they undoubtedly get from television and movies. Worth noting is the Runglish word for Xerox copy: kserokopirovat.


Singlish, the third oldest lish, continues to thrive today but with its original British flavor increasingly spiced with American terms. Most young people in Singapore reportedly consider it their primary language, while others use it as a second language.

As described at the beginning of this chapter, Singlish is a mixture of many languages, reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the tiny country, where public signs are often written in three or four languages. Although Singlish borrows many English terms, it is not easily understood by native English speakers because of the bizarre mixture of words and the accents given them.

In fact, there are various versions of Singlish itself. In the simplest combination of Standard English and Singlish, the sentence, aThis personas Singlish is very gooda comes across as aDis guy Singlish d.a.m.n powerful one lah.a In a more colloquial version, the same sentence comes out, aDis guy Singrish si beh powerful sia. It can be d.a.m.n confusing to dis visiting guy.a In 2000, the government started a aSpeak Good Englisha movement in an effort to reduce the use of Singlish. But Singlish has reportedly continued to proliferate on radio and television, reflecting its increased popularity with the general public, especially comedians. Humor writer Sylvia Toh Paik Choo has written several books about it, including a glossary called Pasar Patois.


Spanglish has been spoken in the United States for centuries. But never has it had such currency as now when federal and state governments are struggling to control the persistent flow of Latinos into the country.

As a result, some American newspapers in English are starting to run sections and columns in Spanish or Spanglish. One of the latter appears in The New Mexican, a daily in Santa Fe, New Mexico, under the t.i.tle Growing Up Spanglish. The author, Larry Torres, writes it in such way that a person without any knowledge of Spanish can understand it.

Spanglish comes in many forms, depending on the country of origin. It ranges from the Cubonics spoken by Cuban-Americans, to the Nuyorican spoken in New York by Puerto Ricans, to the Dominicanish from Dominican Republic and the Spanglish spoken by Mexican-Americans in East Los Angeles, or Istlos, as denizens of the area p.r.o.nounce it.

Spanglish also thrives in other Spanish-speaking countries, particularly in Latin America. Even the British living in Argentina are said to speak it. American Spanglish even has its purists who claim that the Tex-Mex common in Texas is not Spanglish because it is a variety of Mexican Spanish, nor is the Ladino spoken in parts of New Mexico, for the same reason. But not to worry; they surely qualify as Amglish.

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Meanwhile, American words and phrases are increasingly creeping into conversations among Spanish-Americans, while many Spanish words are becoming Americanized. Latinos often ask for a Kleenex rather than a panuelo, and they butear (boot up) their computer in order to surfear (surf) the Web. If a mistake is made, they deletear it. Typical Spanglish words include colid for caller ID, for-yun-key for a 401(k) account, and of course the famous grincar for a green card.

Yet many Americans have been routinely intimidateda"even terrorized at timesa"by parents, teachers, and others for even the slightest departures from rules and standards formulated centuries ago. It is time for everybody to relax and let language evolve naturally within every person without threats or intimidations Silent resentment against ancient strictures has simmered long enough in English-speaking countries, especially the United States. For Americans, the rebellion against formal English started with the overall resistance by the colonies against nearly everything British.

The resistance has reflected the restless, free-swinging character of Americans embodied in the revolutionaries of colonial times through successive waves of ambitious immigrants imbued with a natural pioneer spirit.

As this book shows, there have been many individual attempts to break out of the mold that is still sometimes labeled the Queenas English. Among the leading language rebels have been authors, musicians, lexicographers, teachers, humorists, and advertisers, as well as ordinary people, especially young ones.

Almost all have been seeking ways to simplify a language too complex and formal for the time and make it easier and more enjoyable to use.

The result is todayas Amglish, an informal mixture of American English and other languages. It is the largely undirected product of free spirits altering the structure and style of the language. The new lingo is shaking off outmoded precepts and idiosyncrasies as it silently invites all to hop aboard, have fun, and be subtly altered in the process.

Unlike the rules of formal English, the rules of Amglish are unwritten and as fluid as society itself. While its basic structure remains relatively stable, new words as well as grammar and syntax are steadily reshaping it. The resulting mishmash is being embraced enthusiastically almost everywhere.

Along the way, Amglish is developing its own modus operandi (MO) in order to be more broadly understood. The following lessons are designed to acquaint anyone who hasnat kept current with what has been happening. Amglishas emerging standards appear to be intelligently designed by nature, like all living creatures.

Unlike the rules of formal English, the rules of Amglish are flexible and made to be broken as conditions change. All but the last of the ten lessons should be taken with at least one grain of salt followed by a suitable chaser. The tenth should be taken to heart, especially by young people.

Itas time to play the language game for all itas worth.

Lesson One: Go With the Flow.

The main point of this lesson is to relax when trying to communicate with others.

Let the words tumble out without worrying about where or how they will land, and donat fret about whether you are forming a complete sentence or something quite different. If you are in the writing mode, donat sweat over your words before sending them. You will break the casual image that goes with Amglish.

Life is too short to worry about making errors in language. It is also too short to pa.s.s judgment on possible grammatical lapses or questionable wording by other people. To learn Amglish is to tolerate all verbal sounds and shapes and to accept them without question.

The key is to reach understanding through communication. If that means writing without capital letters or proper grammar, so be it. Lowercase letters on a keyboard can build rapport with people as well as save the time it takes to use the shift key, unless of course you are writing to a college admissions office or a prospective employer. Just think of the hoursa"possibly even yearsa"that poet e. e. c.u.mmings gained for other things by avoiding the shift key on his typewriter.

Amglish lovers should also not be awed by centuries-old dilemmas that force people to choose between further and farther, lay and lie, that and which, who and whom, and other dilemmas. Scarcely anybody todaya"even with an advanced degreea"has a firm grip on such relics. Nor have several American presidents despite their receiving superior education.

Among other problems that still reverberate in cla.s.srooms and books is whether to use a prepositiona"a word like of or fora"at the end of a sentence. For centuries there was a strict prohibition against it. But the rule abruptly died when Winston Churchill became agitated enough to dismiss the problem by saying, aThatas the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put.a Thanks to him and others, the language establishment has finally agreeda"though not unanimously or openlya"that such a rule is no longer necessary. The practical answer comes down to whether ending a sentence with a preposition gets the point across.

Meanwhile, similar anachronisms are disappearing in the new linguistic atmosphere.

So let the good times roll with rules and standards that are easy to live with.

Lesson Two: Better to Phone Than Write.

This lesson is designed to encourage you to maximize your dependence on phones and films so you donat have to waste time and effort reading and writing things, learning stuff, and thinking about your future. Phones and films tend to be more exciting, more interesting, and less trouble.

Long gone are the times when people sat down and wrote letters in longhand or typed them on stationery, then put them in envelopes, added stamps, and carried them to the nearest mailbox or post office. Even e-mail is going out of style. Texting and phoning are beginning to supersede e-mail for quick communication, especially for young people.

Smart phones have opened up an even larger universe that already includes more apps than anyone can handle for everything from music and news to global positioning and systems for obeying oral commands. Embedded in all the new content is a new, rapidly changing language of acronyms, numbers, emoticons, and abbreviations that can be put into code for a closed group of people.

The bottom line is phoning is faster, easier, and more in style than writing or reading. And it is an excellent way to avoid being exposed to criticism for grammar and spelling.

A mobile phone can also help improve your overall image. Having one constantly on your ear in public tends to give you the appearance of being important and urgently involved with major decisions. You, too, can acquire such an image even though you may be merely telling your live-in what to get at the grocery store, listening to music, or getting a weather report.

Remember, with mobile phones, your image and handling of them may be more important than what you say or text on them.

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