British diplomats to learn Hindi

Published 19th October 2012
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nullBritish diplomats posted to India have recently been told that they will have to learn the newly popular language, ‘Hinglish’.

‘Hinglish’, as you can probably guess is a mix of the English and Hindi languages, and is becoming an increasingly common language in India.

English has been a commonly used language within India for many years, used particularly in business and amongst upper classes, but it is believed that without any knowledge of Hindi, British diplomats may be missing vital parts of conversations which could lead to misunderstanding.

‘Hinglish’ is now appearing everywhere in India, including in Bollywood films and television adverts. Mixing the English and Hindi languages allows Indians to express themselves in exactly the way they intend.

A recent BBC documentary, ‘Welcome to India’ showed the “Hinglish” language in all its glory. The documentary followed the lives of residents in the backstreets of some of India’s densest neighbourhoods and was filmed almost entirely in “Hinglish”.

The move to improve the language skills of British diplomats has been encouraged by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague. When Hague took over in 2010 he made language learning a priority, with the idea that language skills help to create stronger business relationships.

A diplomatic language centre has been opened to train British diplomats and provides Hindi lessons to give the diplomats a better understanding of today’s India.

Training in Hindi has now become a formal job requirement and it is hoped that from this, British officials will be able to converse with Indian politicians and spot new business opportunities.

Learning the local language is a sign of respect for your host nation, so it’s surprising to hear that these British diplomats didn’t already have the necessary language skills for their posting.

In the 17th and 18th centuries it was essential that British officials knew the language of the country they were posted to, so what happened…?

For more information about Hindi language services, click here.

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