Unveiling Nine Noteworthy English Mixes You Need to Discover

Around 66% of the world’s population, or 5,206,080,000 people, can speak two or more languages. In a world increasingly becoming more multilingual, speakers of different languages are more connected and mingle with one another, either online or in real life. 

It also means languages from different countries or regions interact with each other more than ever, resulting in code-switching and different language mixes. 

English is also the fastest-growing international language globally, with speakers increasing from 1,054,696,408 in 2011 to 1,300,569,350 in 2021. As it becomes more influential worldwide, the number of English mixes and code-switching between English and other languages will only rise. 

We’ll explore the topic of code-switching and look into some English mixes every language learner and enthusiast must see in this Ghoti English article.

Why do People Code Switch?

There are a few reasons why language speakers choose to switch between different languages, like: 

  • To fit in and identify with a social group or a specific situation: Speakers of multiple languages often code-switch to fit into a social group or use a language more appropriate for a particular scenario. Some languages, like English and French, tend to be more used in formal settings, like business, education, media, and government. In some cases, speakers of English and other languages use English at work or school and then use their local tongue with their friends or family. 
  • Say something in secret: We all have secrets, and what better way to divulge them than speaking in a different language only you and the other person you want to share your secrets with can understand? Speakers of two or more languages code-switch to hide their comments in plain sight, away from people who would otherwise understand what they were saying if they used a language everyone else can speak. 
  • Use words that are not present in the other language: Languages are not perfect, and some terms or concepts are present in one language that are absent in others. For this reason, speakers of multiple languages code-switch to use a word from one language to explain better a concept that is foreign to another. For instance, a Filipino might use the word “kilig” to describe feelings of being elated or exhilarated, especially after a romantic experience, a concept absent in English, Spanish, and other languages. 
  • To get an idea across: Speaking of words, bilingual and multilingual people often find it easier to express an idea or discuss a topic in another language they know because they find it easier to say their thoughts in that language or it has a specific vocabulary not present in another language. An Indian, for example, might speak in English but then switch to Hindi to express his thoughts more easily. 
  • Force of habit: Lastly, code-switching can result from being raised in an environment where more than one language is spoken. Thus, speakers of different languages might habitually switch between two or more foreign languages without knowing or realizing it. For example, a Korean born in South Korea but spent her childhood in New Zealand might switch between Korean and English due to her background.

Examples of Code Switching in English

As English spreads its influence and reach to other countries, new styles and varieties of English emerge, especially in places that didn’t have prior contact with the language. Nevertheless, countries that were either part of the British Empire or influenced by the United States also have their own English mixes, especially when English holds a more formal, prestigious place in that country’s society. 

Here’s an overview of the most common examples of English mixes (or, as Babbel like to call them, glishes) around the world, along with a glimpse of how they look like. 

Singlish/Singaporean English

Despite being one of the smallest countries in the world, Singapore is home to a diverse variety of languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, Tamil, Malay, and English, which also serve as the four official languages of the South East Asian city-state. English is Singapore’s primary language of education, business, and governance.

Singapore’s history as a former British colony for 144 years led to the development of its variety of English, Singaporean English, and an English-based Creole language named Singlish. Although both languages are used widely by Singaporeans and contain influences from British English as well as Chinese languages (e.g., Hokkien, Mandarin), Indian languages (e.g., Tamil, Hindi), and Malay, the Singaporean government has worked to discourage the use of Singlish through initiatives such as the Speak Good English movement and promote the use of Standard Singaporean English.

But as Singaporean literary critic and poem Gwee Li Sui noted, the Singaporean government’s efforts to suppress Singlish only made it flourish even more. Today, Singaporeans tend to use standard Singaporean English in formal settings and speak Singlish when talking with their friends or family.

Examples: 

Can lah, we go makan at the hawker center, the chicken rice there damn shiok!

Sure, let’s eat at the hawker center; the chicken rice there is really delicious!

 

Eh, don’t need to rush lah, the bus always come late one.

Hey, no need to rush, the bus is always late.

 

Zoom meeting at 7 AM. Can or not? 

We have a Zoom meeting at 7 AM. Will you attend or not?

African-American Vernacular English (AAVE)

Code-switching and mixing do not only occur between two different languages. It can also happen between two different varieties of the same language. One example is African-American speakers switching between African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) and standard American English. 

Like Singaporeans with Singlish and standard Singaporean English, African-American speakers usually switch between AAVE and standard American English, depending on the situation. African-Americans usually use AAVE in casual and informal settings and speak standard American English in more formal situations, such as at school or the workplace. 

In addition, it’s important to note that while some consider AAVE “poor” or “broken” English, AAVE is its variety of English. American English also comes in different regional dialects, such as New England English, spoken in the northeastern parts of the United States, and Southern American English, spoken in the American South. 

Examples: 

We finna leave before Shaun come. 

We’re going to leave before Shaun comes.

 

Latisha be spendin’ Bryant’s money. 

Latisha often spends Bryant’s money.

 

That guy funny as hell. 

That guy is so funny.

Hinglish

India is one of the world’s largest English-speaking countries, and the number of English-speaking Indians continues to rise. With English becoming more popular in the subcontinent, it mixes with native languages in the region to create Hinglish, a combination of Hindi and English.

Hinglish is widely spoken among Indians living in urban and suburban areas. They are also popular among middle to upper-class Indians. Many Indian movies, such as the critically-acclaimed 2008 drama Slumdog Millionaire, feature Hinglish. Indians also use Hinglish frequently on many social media apps like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

While Hinglish is usually written in Roman letters (e.g., Luv Ka The End, Love Aaj Kal), it can sometimes be written in the native Devanagari script or a mix of both, with Roman letters being used for English words and the Devanagari script for native Hindi words. 

Examples: 

अलेन से बाद मे मिल्ने चल्तेन हे मल्ल पे मोविए दख्ने ।.

Alena se baad me milne chalten he mall pe movie dakhne. 

Let’s meet Alena at the mall later to watch a movie.

 

मुजे एक जुइके लेन 

Muje ek juice lena.

Buy some juice for me.

 

बोहोत फिल्मी हो तुम.

Bohot filmi ho tum.

You’re so dramatic.

(Filmi in Hinglish means dramatic, which might have come from the English word “film.”)

 

उन होने जन्न’स इन्स्तग्रम पर एक कोम्मेन्त लिखे हैन्.

Un hone Janna’s Instagram par ek comment likhe hain.

She left a comment on Janna’s Instagram post.

Chinglish

According to the British Council, there are 400 million English learners in China, and it also has the most significant English language teaching market in the world, with a yearly growth above 10% and a size of 2 billion USD. As English becomes more popular in China, its interaction with the native Chinese languages continues to grow, resulting in a unique linguistic blend called Chinglish.

Most people might laugh at English-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-English mistranslations they would see online. But Chinglish also gave mainstream English unique words such as lose face, which means losing respect or being embarrassed, especially in public, and those delicious potstickers, which refer to a type of dumpling in China. Both of these words are calques, or direct word-for-word translations of Chinese words, namely 丟臉 (with 丟 [diū] meaning “to leave” and 臉 [liǎn] meaning “face”) and 鍋貼 (with 鍋 [guō] meaning “pot” and 貼 [tiē] meaning “to stick”).

Another phrase commonly attributed to Chinglish is the famous phrase long time no see, which is widely used when seeing an old friend or acquaintance. This phrase is reportedly a word-for-word translation of the Mandarin Chinese phrase 好久不見 (with 好久 [Hǎojiǔ] meaning “long time” and 不見 [Bùjiàn] meaning “no/not see”). However, other sources dispute this phrase’s Chinese origins, as two novels from 1900 with Native American characters used the phrase in their dialogues, possibly claiming that its roots came from Native American Pidgin English. 

Examples: 

Zhao Lian, open the television! 

Zhao Lian, turn on the television!

(The “open” in “open the television” is a mistranslation as a result of the words “to open” and “to turn on” having the same word in Chinese, namely 开 (kāi).

 

Wash after relief 

Flush after use

(This phrase, commonly seen in restrooms in China, is a direct translation of the words 便后冲水 (biàn hòu chōng shuǐ), which means “after relieving yourself, flush with water.”)

 

迈克尔吃巧克力,希拉吃沙拉

Màikè’ěr chī qiǎokèlì, xīlā chī shālā.

Michael ate chocolate while Sheila had a salad. 

(巧克力 [qiǎokèlì] and 沙拉 [shālā] are loanwords from English, meaning chocolate and salad, respectively). 

 

我们一起吃点 pizza 好吗?

Wǒmen yīqǐ chī diǎn pizza hǎo ma?

Shall we eat some pizza together?

Japanglish/Engrish

What originally started as a whacky way of speaking Engrish (pun intended) by the Japanese eventually evolved and became an interlanguage that combines Japanese and English, or Japanglish as foreigners and locals would like to call it. 

Japan was first exposed to English when the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu met an Englishman named William Adams in the 1600s. But the country’s interest in learning the language continued throughout the Meiji Restoration, Japan’s defeat following the Second World War, and its subsequent economic miracle in the late 20th century.

Today, the Japanese language borrows many loanwords from English, and they are usually written in Katakana, a Japanese writing script frequently used for transcribing foreign-language loanwords as well as technical and scientific terminology and names of Japanese companies as well as international firms like McDonald’s, Google, and Starbucks. 

Examples: 

グーグルで検索してみてください、ヒデオ。 

Gūguru de kensaku shite mite kudasai, Hideo.

Just search it on Google, Hideo.

 

リモコンはどこですか、タナカ? 

Rimokon wa dokodesu ka, Tanaka? 

Where is the remote control, Tanaka?

(Rimokon [リモコン] in Japanese means a “remote control” in Japanese, created by combining the first syllables of each word.)

 

さくらはおやつにフライドポテトを食べるのが好きです。

Sakura wa o yatsu ni furaidopoteto o taberu no ga sukidesu.

Sakura likes eating French fries for a snack.

(Furaidopoteto [フライドポテト] means “fried potato” in Japanese and commonly refers to French fries.)

Konglish

Konglish, a portmanteau of Korean and English, is a result of the influence of American culture in South Korea, which arrived after the arrival of American service members in the country during the Korean War. American pop culture slowly found its way into the hearts of South Koreans, and it became an enduring influence in South Korean society and the Hallyu wave that dominated Asia and the rest of the world in the 2010s and 2020s.

The development of Konglish is similar to that of Japanglish, despite Japan and South Korea having different histories with the English language. Like the Japanese language, the Korean language borrows many loanwords from English. Still, it also has words that have English origins but are not used by other English speakers, like 매니큐어 (maenikyueo), meaning nail polish, and 스킨십 (seukinsip), meaning physical contact or skinship, the latter borrowed from Japanese. 

With Hallyu becoming more popular worldwide, Konglish is slowly becoming more popular among K-Pop and K-Drama fans, which use different words like comeback, which means returning with new music, and exclamation 파이팅! (Paiting!), often used to express someone’s support or encouragement to another person. 

Examples: 

프로모션 때문에 스토어에서 할인 된 아이템쇼핑했어요. 

Peulomosyeon ttaemun-e seuto-eoeseo hal-in doen aitem-eul syopinghaess-eoyo.

I went shopping at the store because of the promotion, and I bought discounted items.

 

버스 정류장에서 셀카를 찍었어요. (I took a selfie at the bus stop.)

Beoseu jeongryujangeseo selka-reul jjigeosseoyo.

I took a selfie at the bus stop.

 

이번 주말에 아우트도어 액티비티를 즐기러 갈 거야. 

Ibeon jumale auteodeo aektibitieul jeulgireo gal geoya.

I’m going to enjoy outdoor activities this weekend.

Taglish

Tagalog is just one of the Philippines’ 180 languages. But it’s also one of the country’s most widely spoken languages, and it also serves as the basis for Filipino, one of the official languages of the Philippines alongside English, which is mainly a relic of American colonization, which lasted for 48 years from 1898 to 1946.

English serves as the language of media, government, academia, and business in the Philippines, and many young Filipinos speak English fluently. However, older Filipinos can demonstrate a bit of fluency in the language. Many Filipinos typically mix Tagalog and English even in a single sentence, creating Taglish. 

As with most countries like India and Japan, Filipinos tend to use English words when talking about foreign concepts that have no direct equivalent in Tagalog. Recently, however, many Filipinos are beginning to use English words for ideas or things that have a Tagalog translation, such as wallet (pitaka in Tagalog), electric fan (bentilador), and teacher (guro). 

Examples: 

Nag-propose ako ng plano kanina sa Zoom meeting natin kasama si Team Leader

Earlier, I proposed a plan during our Zoom meeting with [our] Team Leader.

 

Na-play ko kanina yung kanta ni Taylor Swift sa flag ceremony kaysa dun sa national anthem

I accidentally played Taylor Swift’s song earlier during the flag ceremony instead of the national anthem.

 

Mamaya pagkatapos ko mag-gym, magpapahinga ako sa condo ni Vice at dun kami mag-si-stream ng Netflix

After I work out at the gym, I’ll take a rest at Vice’s condominium, and we’ll stream Netflix there.

Franglais/Frenglish

French and English are two languages that are not exactly on friendly terms with each other, given the long and intense history of rivalry between the United Kingdom and France. But that history didn’t stop the two languages from mixing, creating what is now known as Franglais in French or Frenglish in English.

This blend of two of the world’s most powerful languages is widely used across Francophone countries and territories, especially Canada. Canadian French, especially in Quebec, have much English influence due to British colonialism in the region. 

Quebec, originally a French colony, was handed over to the British after the Seven Years’ War. But the British largely left its French-speaking population alone, allowing Quebecois French to evolve differently from standard French and take many influences from the English language.

But Metropolitan French, the French spoken in Mainland France, is not safe from the pervasive influence of the English language, despite efforts from institutions such as the Académie française to prevent Anglicisms from entering the French language. 

Today, Franglais in France remains growing and involves using words that do not necessarily have equivalents in French dialects (e.g., le week-end meaning weekend or le lunchbox meaning lunchbox) along with Internet slang (e.g., email, blog, and Googliser meaning “to Google”). 

Examples: 

Est-ce que tu as followé Stacy en Facebook? 

Did you follow Stacy on Facebook?

 

Ne t’inquiète pas! Il va Skyper Constance maintenant. 

Don’t worry! He’ll Skype Constance now.

 

Ne spoilez pas le film plus tard!

Don’t spoil the film later!

Spanglish

If you live in the United States or are familiar with American culture, you might have heard of Spanglish before, thanks to the huge Latino (or, as others say, Latinx. Your call) communities that speak it. Like all the English mixes, styles, and blends discussed in this article, Spanglish’s status remains disputed. Is it a pidgin? Is it a Creole language? No one knows just yet. What we know is that it refers to any combination of Spanish and English in a single sentence. 

Like Franglais, Spanglish involves mixing Spanish and English, two of the world’s most widely spoken languages. But while the history of the French and English languages is one of rivalry, the history of Spanish and English differs, especially in the United States. As Latinos and Latinas from all corners of Latin America migrated to America, they slowly integrated into mainstream, English-speaking American society while retaining their Latino identity and the Spanish language.

The result of this assimilation is Spanglish or inglañol in Spanish. There’s even a comedy-drama movie called Spanglish, released in 2004, featuring American actor Adam Sandler and Spanish actress Paz Vega. While the film received mixed reviews from critics, many fans appreciated it for tackling the topic of cross-cultural communication and interaction between Latinos and the rest of American society, an issue that remains as relevant as ever. 

Examples: 

Vamos a hacer shopping en el mall este fin de semana. 

We’re going to go shopping at the mall this weekend.

 

Mi abuelita makes the best arroz con chicken que he probado. 

My grandma makes the best chicken and rice I’ve ever tasted.

 

¿Puedes pasar el orange juice, por favor? 

Can you pass the orange juice, please?

Code-Switching and English: A Perfect Mix

Switching between languages is a common phenomenon among bilingual and multilingual people. It also exists in almost every country, whether it’s a multilingual country like the Philippines or a largely monolingual nation like South Korea. But code-switching continues to fascinate many linguists and researchers as they seek to identify the grammatical structure and vocabulary of using multiple languages in one sentence. 

Code-switching becomes a more valuable skill as the world becomes more multicultural and connected. The rise of English in other countries like Japan and China means more English styles being developed and used by speakers of English and other languages. It’s not just a linguistic phenomenon but a testament to how our rapidly-changing world is becoming more diverse.

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