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Beautiful untranslatable Hindi words everyone can use

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Though English is the lingua franca of many people of Indian heritage, some Hindi words are just irreplaceable as they convey more than just what was spoken. While there may be English variants of these words, they just don’t have the zing that Hindi offers.

I am a proud member of the multilingual club [yup, three languages].

I come from a Gujarati family in India, was educated in English-medium, (yes, that's a thing in India where you can choose the language of instruction) and chose Hindi as a language-subject at school and university.

While I can speak, read and write three languages, I mainly use English at work as well as home.

But there are times - beautiful, funny, contemplative or just plain boring times – when nothing but a Hindi word will suffice to express that exact emotion.

Take the expression of hain?, or bakwas, or fatafat, or my favourite, Yaar.

Here are some of my favourites from untranslatable Hindi words that we should all be using:

group of friends Indian
Getty Images/Inti St Clair

Yaar (यार)

This one is at the top of my list. It loosely translates to 'mate' or 'friend' but in Hindi, you can use it for anybody -from your grandma to the cab driver, to your colleague or a random person you strike up a conversation with at the supermarket.

But the best time to use it is when you are talking cricket, politics or are out on a Saturday night and having a good time.

Here's how you should be using it.

Start your sentences with the word, Yaar.

'Yaar, let me tell you what happened on Monday.'

'Yaar, I don't feel like working at all today. Let's go, get some coffee.'

'Yaar, what's up?'

Get the gist? Superb!

Getty Images/calvindexter

Hain? (हैं?)

I might have used it with a question mark, but Hain goes with all punctuation marks. Use it with a full stop, exclamation or a question mark, and this small Hindi word delivers the goods.

If the question mark were a sound, it would be hain? If it were an emoji, it would be the one above.

Hain is generally used to express disbelief, surprise, - 'what nonsense are you talking' - or plain disgust. 

Yaar: 'I got three nights' holiday booked for just $100?'

You: Hain?

Yaar: 'She said YES!'

You: Hain?

Yaar: 'I quit my job.'

You: Hain?

You have already aced Yaar, haven't you?

Fatafat (फटाफट)

Fatafat means 'quickly' and 'at once'. But it is the sound that adds so much value and makes it special.

Try saying 'fa-ta-fat'. Aah, that sound!

Now try it in a commanding tone, like you are ordering something. 

This word is best used to annoy someone, especially a sibling or your best friend. And maybe your parents (try it at your own risk with your parents).

‘Get me water. Fatafat!’

'Get out [of the bathroom] fatafat!'. (This accompanied by incessant knocking on the door will deliver the desired outcome fatafat)

‘Pass me the remote, fatafat.

Mum: ‘Listen’. You: Fatafat!

Warning: You may get whacked. So, use Fatafat at your own risk.

And a word of caution. Don't try it with your boss or in the workplace.

Disappointed cricket fans
Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Bakwas (बकवास)

Bakwas is essentially used when something is rubbish, crap, ridiculous or absurd. When accompanied by an expression of disgust or disappointment, it creates a powerful impact.

Try making a face which expresses disappointment, and say 'Bak-waas'.

'Did you see Kohli play last night?'


How was the party?


Hey, how was that restaurant?


How did your date go last weekend?


Get it? Awesome.

Jugaad (जुगाड़)

Jugaad is a practice, a verb. In India, when you get work done with minimal resources or help, cobbling up things together, we call it Jugaad. It is unconventional, frugal innovation and loosely translates to "a hack".

It can be a short-term solution or an ingenious way to solve a problem.

If you ever feel the need to come up with some solution with the bare minimum, or need to find a way out with what is available at hand, you are working on a 'Jugaad'.

You could also direct someone and say 'Do some jugaad'.

Did you know Hindi is the most-spoken Indian language in Australia, and Indians have been the top source of migration to Australia for the last five years?

Hindi is among the top ten languages spoken in Australia, and more than 660,000 people from India call Australia home, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Next time you strike up a conversation with someone who speaks Hindi, try these words out. You might make a new 'yaar'!

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