Monday, November 19, 2007


Sometime ago i was reading an article in a gujarati newspaper, which expressed great concern over increasing influence of English over Indian languages and how English words are making several Indian counterparts of theirs extinct.

Now I came across this youtube video titled “Heynabonics”. It talks about English spoken in northeastern Pennsylvania, where people put at the end of an affirmative sentence something like “Hai na” to convert it into a question.

e.g. “Did you go to the party last night?” is a normal sentence. With Hai na, it would be, “You went to the party last night, Hai na?”

Similarly, “You like tom’s sister, don’t you?” would become, “You like Tom’s sister, Hai na?”

Some bloggers have come up with various possible explanations for the origin of "Hai na". Looking at the context and usage of the term, I can't think of any other origin but Hindi. In Hindi, Hai is a conjugation for third person, for the verb Hona (To be). So, “Hai na?”, would literally mean, “It is. No?”

Listen to this song, from the movie “Jis desh me Ganga Behti hai” (The country, where The Ganges flows). You will definitely enjoy the “Hai na” after every stanza. (Don’t get impatient to listen to Hai na from the word go, wait at least till 00:43 minute).

It feels so good, Hindi influencing English, even changing their vocabulary. I am waiting for that day when even Gujarati expressions like, “Na hoy” (Equivalent of an exclamation, like Really?, or Is that so?), will also invade English theasures.

“You know, George Bush finally cleared an IQ test. Na Hoy!”

At Languagelog, you can see various other explanations of Hai Na.


Anonymous said...

There is a song too...Salman Khan and Karishma Kapoor.
"blah blah blah...hai naa... bolo!"
As it is well said... indian people "live" bollywood films... this could have triggered the usage :-).

Anonymous said...

Hey Dimitri !

This "hai na bolo bolo" culture is much older. Dates back to the film "Andaaz" with shammi kapoor and hema malini. No wonder why this is so deeply etched into Hinglish.