Linguistic Complexity within the World of Hindi Cinema

Connie Haham

University of Texas at Austin


Linguistic Complexity within the World of Hindi Cinema

Hindi cinema or “Bollywood” represents one of the binding forces culturally and linguistically across South Asia and in the Diaspora. It might appear paradoxical then that Hindi is but one of the languages in use in the making of any film. Interviews with various people within the film industry provided insights into issues such as the difficulty of naming languages, the perceived limits to multilingualism, a tolerance for partial understanding and an easy acceptance of codeswitching. Feelings for the traditional Urdu based language of cinema sometimes but not always rested easily alongside enthusiasm for modern varieties such as “Bombaya” or “Hinglish.” Exploring language in the context of Hindi cinema brings to the fore broader issues faced by a society in rapid flux. Globalization, history and geopolitics, financial considerations, demographics and education patterns can meet with art in affecting lexical choices in dialogue and lyric writing.

Session: Paper session
Contact / Code-Switching
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 10