A linguistic puzzle

I am watching a Hindi language movie. In the opening scene, a board showing the train schedule at a station is shown.

The headings on the board are all in English: "Track", "Train", "Departure", etc. But all of the entries on the board are in Hindi.

Why would anyone design a train schedule board in this fashion?

A passenger who can only read English can read the headings but not the actual train information. A passenger who can only read Hindi can read the train information, but not the headings. And anyone who can read both could read the board if it was written entirely in one language or the other.

So what could be the motivation for this mixed language board?


  1. As a Hindi and English speaker, it is very simple to explain.

    For certain words, even if there is an English equivalent, a lot of us use the Hindi equivalent.

    For certain words, even if there is a Hindi equivalent, a lot of us use the English equivalent.

    Very rarely do we use 100% English or 100% Hindi in daily spoken language. For words such as track and train, we almost never use the Hindi equivalent. But for names of cities and numbers and times, we use the Hindi equivalent. This actually makes life easier for us, since we are not enthusiastic about inventing words for "computer" in Hindi.

    To give an English comparison - think of how in English there are French-origin words and Germanic-origin words. For some things, the French origin word is more common, and some things the Germanic origin word is more common. Everyday spoken language is a mix.

    1. I understand loan words. But the train sign actually shifted scripts between the headings and the body of the sign. THAT I have never seen here: just because "pundit" is borrowed from Hindi, we don't shift into Hindi script when we write it.

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    3. Another words Prateek, I am not befuddled every time I use the word "canyon" or "encore" or "boondocks." Nor would a dual language sign puzzle me at all: if I am in Chinatown, I expect to see signs in Chinese and English. But I expect to see the entire sign repeated in each language. What was puzzling here was to find half the sign in one language and half in another. If it was just an issue of loanwords, then I would expect to see the word train written in Hindi script, not Latin.

    4. I understand what you mean, but that is just how we do things here.

      When a school play is in both Hindi and English, there is a lot of jumping of scripts, from Hindi to English.


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