Well, the Oxford English Dictionary had no record of it. I searched online and was equally confused by finding so many different definitions.
There was a common theme, however, with people from Germany, the Netherlands and even Dubai recognising this word. What did they all have in common?
The word describing their language or place had been combined with the word ‘English’. So Deutsche, Dutch and Dubai, had each been combined with English, to get… you got it – Dinglish. Others called it Denglish.
Presumably, if I had kept on searching I would also have found mentions of Dinglish in Denmark and the Dominican Republic. Dinglish seemed to be in evidence where a foreign language had been mixed with English to produce a new ‘mangled’ form.
Others wrote that Dinglish was where a language, such as German, had become corrupted by misappropriated English words and expressions.
I searched further and found that Dinglish can also refer to metaphors, and other common expressions, becoming mixed up when translated between languages. This is when individual words are translated into English correctly but where the meaning of the phrase does not work in a different cultural context.
And there’s more. The top definition of Dinglish on urbandictionary.com was, “The use of Mixed Metaphors, spoken especially in haste and when under extreme pressure”. Examples could include, “behaving like like a bull in a sweet shop”, “It’s not rocket surgery” and “adding another string to your armoury”.
I realised then that you don’t need to be a non-UK English speaker to get expressions mixed up. Native English speakers in the UK can be just as bad, if not worse. One of my pet hates is hearing people say, “the proof is in the pudding.” The proof is NOT “in the pudding”. You do not prod around for it, for example, inside a cake or wade through custard to find it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. End of story.
In some countries, these examples may also be known as “dinglisms” where “common words get rearranged for the soul purpose of making people laugh.”
But if you are a communications specialist publishing quality content for corporate clients across international boundaries, this is no laughing matter. On the contrary, it’s your job to identify dinglisms, stop the dingle-dangle, untangle the mangle, and separate the Dinglish from English.
Easy to say, I know.