Hangalachangala
February 3, 2020 6:55 AM   Subscribe

My boss is fond of the phrase "hangalachangala." Not sure if I'm spelling that right, but from context it seems to be the process equivalent of "yadda yadda yadda." Example: "The order wasn't flowing through the system, but we did a little hangalachangala and now it's working." Is this a phrase other people use? Where does it come from?
posted by DirtyOldTown to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This sounds like a South Asian random made up word to me. Is he South Asian?
posted by cacao at 7:01 AM on February 3, 2020


Seconding South Asian, either nonsense or real word. I speak Hindi and have neither heard of nor can find anything that fits the bill for it, but a quick search in Telugu revealed hangulu, which might fit the bill, given that it seems to indicate arrangements, either facilities or something like a flower arrangement (maybe something like suvidhā, or even the famous jugāḍ in Hindi?). It is a common, if not universal, South Asian linguistic feature to double a word and change its first consonant in order to change or lighten its meaning; in Hindi, this can be done with English words, giving us meeting-sheeting, as in "I don't want to waste my time with any meetings-sheetings," as well as any other word, giving us the common "pyar-vyar" to mean love and romance and other such things.

Given all this, if the word is hangulu, then we might be in business, and could take it to mean, "arrangements and other things to facilitate something." But this is all totally playing out in my head and could be completely wrong, so YMMV!
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 7:20 AM on February 3, 2020 [8 favorites]


That's funny...it sounded like pseudo Spanish to me - "haga la changala" or thereabouts. It doesn't have any immediate meaning to me but also could be some super-local colloquialism.
posted by jquinby at 7:20 AM on February 3, 2020


Sounds like one of the nonsense phrases Tommy Cooper would say when doing a magic trick in place of "abra cadabra".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:23 AM on February 3, 2020


As for a translation - the best I got for something close is haga la chancla which means "made the flip-flop"

(flip-flop, as in the shoe)
posted by jquinby at 7:23 AM on February 3, 2020


To me it sounds Yiddish.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:24 AM on February 3, 2020 [5 favorites]


> Sounds like one of the nonsense phrases Tommy Cooper would say when doing a magic trick in place of "abra cadabra".

Seconded. It's got the same sort of rhyming formula as "hocus pocus" (in that phrase's use as incantation rather than to mean fraud) and sounds "foreign" without directly referencing any particular language.

But hey, ask him out of curiosity!
posted by desuetude at 7:55 AM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]


As for a translation - the best I got for something close is haga la chancla which means "made the flip-flop"

I'm wondering if it's a Spanish idiom related to La chancla as a tool of corporal punishment. I often hear debugging a server or process referred to as 'poking it with a stick', 'giving it a whack', and this could be similar.

"The order wasn't flowing through the system, but we did a little hangalachangala and now it's working."

"The order wasn't flowing through the system, but we gave it a whack and now it's working."
posted by zamboni at 7:56 AM on February 3, 2020 [2 favorites]


Is this a phrase other people use? Where does it come from?

You might consider asking. "Hey, you use that phrase a lot, but I have never heard anybody else say it. Where's that from?"

Sometimes when people have unique or unusual phrases they're happy to share the source. Might be a good story behind it.
posted by jzb at 8:25 AM on February 3, 2020 [9 favorites]


Sounds like it could be some kind of evolution of "presto chango"?
posted by schwinggg! at 8:26 AM on February 3, 2020


It is a common, if not universal, South Asian linguistic feature to double a word and change its first consonant in order to change or lighten its meaning; in Hindi, this can be done with English words, giving us meeting-sheeting, as in "I don't want to waste my time with any meetings-sheetings,"

That is so interesting because I am familiar with the same usage from the NY area, where it comes from Yiddish: "calendar schmalendar! Strategy shmategy!"
posted by Miko at 8:31 AM on February 3, 2020 [18 favorites]


That is so interesting because I am familiar with the same usage from the NY area, where it comes from Yiddish: "calendar schmalendar! Strategy shmategy!"

Yes! This is exactly that. I feel like I read somewhere that this is a common enough linguistic strategy worldwide, but that in SA languages it tends to be a bit more productive and widespread. Not sure though.

I love how many possibilities this is turning up—I will honestly be a bit sad when/if we finally figure it out, but if it's not giving the sandal a whack I vote on using that from now on anyways.
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 9:11 AM on February 3, 2020 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I know a fair number of Yiddish speakers and this doesn't have the right kind of sound for Yiddish but it does sound like the same linguistic feature as "calendar shmalendar" etc. What ethnic background is your boss from?

I would just ask...
posted by epanalepsis at 9:18 AM on February 3, 2020


I do not think it is Yiddish, per se, but I think what the above commenter may be responding to is a construction in Yiddish that gets replicated in other languages, the "Yiddish, schmiddish!" trope that can be applied to basically any word and connotes doubt/a dismissive attitude. It does sound like that.
posted by less of course at 9:28 AM on February 3, 2020


If it helps, the Yiddish feature you all are talking about that was borrowed into English is called "shm reduplication." I don't think it's the source of the lexical item being discussed here, though I am away from my resources and unable to check.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2020 [11 favorites]


There's a really famous (hindi) bollywood song that incorporates syllables VERY similar to what you're saying as part of a fake-"tribal" chant: see here, and please note that this is pretty offensive. Bollywood, especially in the early 1990s, is not known for treating indigenous people/cultures with any respect.
posted by MiraK at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2020


The (imagined) sound of this phrase reminded me of Korean lyrics in 2NE1's "I Am The Best". It also reminds me of M.I.A.'s "Galang." "Galang" is slang for "go along."
posted by purple_bird at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2020


I asked my boss where this comes from and she couldn't recall. She's a Caucasian woman from the Midwest. She did live in LA for a number of years and has a legitimately diverse group of friends and professional contacts, so that opens up some possibilities.

Honestly, given how fond she is of making references to The Office, I expected to be told it was something from that show I had misheard just badly enough not to be able to Google it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:10 AM on February 3, 2020


The podcast A Way With Words absolutely LIVES for this sort of mystery. If anyone else other than your boss says this phrase, they'll know.
posted by Liesl at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2020 [8 favorites]


How is this pronounced? HANN-guh-luh CHANN-guh-luh?
posted by cmm at 11:59 AM on February 3, 2020 [2 favorites]


HAHNG-uh-luh CHAHNG-guh-luh
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:16 PM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]


Tshangela is a common surname in South Africa. But I couldn't find any connection to your context. Super interesting mystery!
posted by Fallbala at 8:31 AM on February 4, 2020


Thanks for the shout, Liesl. I am one of the hosts of A Way with Words.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2020 [11 favorites]


My dad sometimes says "Ackumpucky!" when something surprising or bad happens. As far as I know, he made it up so he wouldn't swear. Maybe this is just a made-up phrase your boss picked up in life somewhere.
posted by tacodave at 6:31 PM on February 4, 2020


I found out last week she is, in fact, saying a mangled version of "Haga la chancla." She picked it up from a Latinx co-worker in LA, for whom it was a sort of family idiom, drawing from the idea of abuela busting out the chancla to roust people when shit really needs to get done.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:12 AM on July 5, 2020 [4 favorites]


« Older What order do false lashes go on?   |   Which router should I buy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.