Conversations in India often take on an unusual mix of languages, idioms, and complexities. First, the traditional language, Hindi, often uses non-Hindi words for things not otherwise found in the language. For example, the English and Hindi words for air conditioner are the same. Many contemporary events, material things, or ways of thinking use common words across the two languages. Additionally, in the effort to express an emotion, feeling, or nuance, the speaker may effortlessly move between a wide range of languages and expressions. Why let the minor details, such as the natural word boundaries of one language, get in the way of communicating what is important?
News programs, variety shows, and people of all backgrounds take advantage of this approach. Ironically, if the listener is aware and understands the different meanings of the sounds, it does not seem so odd! Why not use the Hindi words for numbers mixed in with English words to form a request? Doesn’t it make sense to ask thought provoking questions in one language, explain them in a second blended with a third, and then look for the answer back where you started?
The one warning is this; never assume that your listener understands what you are trying to communicate. The challenge of communicating actually becomes an advantage. People express and explain and then actively seek some type of confirmation. The request often takes the form of having others echo back what they have received in their own words and language. Translations as ok, but they must be accurate!
The contrast with the instant email and quick phone call age could not be greater. I am not sure either is better; however, I do see care in one and carelessness in another. When one knows that others do not speak your language, more care goes into the conversation if you want to convey a message, request, or a story. Rushing, pushing, dominating serves little purpose! The person probably does not understand a word you are saying.
“Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.” (Proverbs 13.3)