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Dual Meaning Hindi Words Posted by on Aug 24, 2021 in Grammar, Hindi Language

Rickshawala by Nicole Herbert Dean

There are certain words in Hindi that have no direct translation. Also, they can be translated and interpreted in several ways. This can lead to a lot of confusion as the interpretation may sometimes depend on the area in which one lives, or the tone of voice while saying the word or the context. The words are used mainly in colloquial speech. It is acceptable at all levels of Indian society and facilitates conversations across strata.

We will examine some words that have these dual or even multiple meanings.

  1. Arre अरे – This word can be used to express surprise आश्चर्य. It can also be used to express disappointment निराशा and it can be used to get someone’s attention ध्यान.
  2. Yaar – means friend दोस्त. People use this word very casually in conversation. But it can also be used with ‘arre’ to express surprise or convey a feeling of astonishment. For example, “What are you doing yaar?” Or, “Arre yaar say something!”
  3. Ho Jayega – this phrase is a the future tense of the verb ‘to be’. This literally means ‘will become’. In context संदर्भ it can mean, it will be accomplished, it will take place and it will be done. This is used even when the person has no intention इरादा of carrying out the action. Listen for the intonation and it will give you a sense of whether your wish will be carried out or not.
  4. Ho Gaya – is the past tense of the word ‘to be’. It means, that a task has been accomplished समाप्त. The work is complete or finished. When used in a questioning tone, it can mean, ‘have you finished’?
  5. Chalega – this means ‘it will do’ even though the literal शाब्दिक meaning is ‘will go or walk’. So if you are planning on taking a rickshaw, you can ask the driver, “Khar, chalega?” meaning “will you go to Khar?” However, you can use to ask if something will work as well. For example उदाहरण के लिए, “Yay television chalega चलेगा?” meaning “will this television do?” when buying a television.
  6. Walla – is a very common suffix that is used as an adjective विशेषण or as a noun. In adjectival form it can be attached to a noun संज्ञा like this: chotawalla छोटावाला – meaning the ‘small one’ or ‘chamakwalli sari’ छमकवाली सारी- ‘the shiny sari’. It can also be used with a noun, such as ‘taxiwalla’ टैक्सीवाला- ‘the taxi driver’, ‘rickshawalla’ रिक्शावाला – ‘the rickshaw driver’. It is sometimes used with a verb, jaanevala जानेवाला- meaning, ‘about to go’.
  7. Theek hain ठीक हैं- means ‘its ok’. It can be used to denote that something is good. Or it can be used as an affirmation, instead of ‘yes’. Theek hain is also used with the word ‘accha’ to mean, ‘ok it is good’.
  8. Achha अच्छा- good. It can be used as an affirmation, meaning ‘ok, I will do it’. Or it can be used as a question meaning ‘really’? Or as a Segway. For example, “Accha, we are leaving now”.
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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.