Right so, we’re moving on: it’s Indian English month, hooray!

Posted by on August 03, 2010

I confess, I don’t really know where to start with this one; it’s a big country, lots of different languages and a very rich, unique kind of English … so I have spent the last few days reading blogs by Indian bloggers who I have found on Twitter or on this India Blogs list and on Blogbharti, and the blogrolls on those blogs … you know how it goes.

I am now going to pull something other than teaching out of my anecdotal bag: a few years ago, 2004 I think it was, I started work as Assistant Art Director for the movie Gandhi My Father, which was, at the time, to be filmed in South Africa – although in the end the entire production moved back to India a few days before we began shooting as the lead actor had to postpone his involvement for personal reasons. Anyway … the point is that for a while I was living in a hotel along the Natal north coast with a crazy/brilliant Indian crew. Guys and gals from different parts of India, some Muslim, some Hindu, mostly speaking in English and I tell you I had never laughed so hard in my life. But when I wasn’t laughing, I was listening intently to the fantastically colourful language that is Indian English – and while reading through these bloggers’ posts I was reminded of that time. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but have a look through the list and see for yourself. I’ve highlighted some of the bloggers here, to reel you in:

Krish Ashok is ‘an anti-social, music loving philistine who is doing jalsa, showing jilpa, enjoying gilma, thinking about matter, vuttufying peter, sutthufying ooru and generally having gajabuja fun’ (for a glossary of the above terms see here). I’m hoping for a guest post from Krish this month, so keep checking in!

Then there’s Bikerdude, whose post ‘Modern Indian Idiom – An illustrated tutorial‘ is too good to miss, especially as:

‘Linguistic education in India is in dire need of change. Casual conversations in modern India are no longer limited to one language. Multilingual textbooks are therefore the need of the hour, and must include modern turns of phrase, wise sayings and quirky Indian idiom in a minimum of three languages.’

In her blog post ‘We are Indian and so is our English’, Gauri (this is the name I have got from Twitter) sums up:

‘Well, by now you must think we have mangled the English language beyond recognition. But alas, even when it comes to doing something wrong, we don’t quite get it right – Indian English is considered one of the official and recognized dialects of English. Most, if not all terms above have legal usage. No apologies, we’re Indian – and so is our English. What to do? We are like that only!’

The last blog I will highlight here is neoIndian. In this post (‘Stop whining and start improving your child’s Indian education’), English features in point number 3:

‘Neo’s mother tongue is the sweetest and the most elegant language that no one really speaks any more – because half the words have been replaced with English equivalents. In the past one year, Neo struggles to think of even one example where he could not get by with English in India. Even the drunk (at 11am!) plumber who came to Neo’s house last weekend asked him rather condescendingly “Do you have hammer?”.’

And lastly, just because I read it and it seems like a good story to share (it’s not all laughs, let’s not generalise please!), Stargazerpuj’s Blog and her post about her grandmother whose unfailing belief in the power of education changed lives.

I am looking forward to some great reading this month and some fabulous guest posts. So if you want to write one, do get in touch and, as always, comment away!

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Comments (5)
  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Francis van Stokkom, ThijssenTranslations. ThijssenTranslations said: Right so, we’re moving on: it’s Indian English month, hooray! http://bit.ly/b6KGKo […]

    Posted by Tweets that mention Right so, we’re moving on: it’s Indian English month, hooray! | Macmillan -- Topsy.com on 3rd August, 2010
  • […] Macmillan Publishers are running a campaign featuring English used in various regions of the world, with all the localizations and accents. This year, it is “Indian English” month and you can view the first entry here. Feel free to contribute, and enjoy the fun: I am now going to pull something other than teaching out of my anecdotal bag: a few years ago, 2004 I think it was, I started work as Assistant Art Director for the movie Gandhi My Father, which was, at the time, to be filmed in South Africa – although in the end the entire production moved back to India a few days before we began shooting as the lead actor had to postpone his involvement for personal reasons. Anyway … the point is that for a while I was living in a hotel along the Natal north coast with a crazy/brilliant Indian crew. Guys and gals from different parts of India, some Muslim, some Hindu, mostly speaking in English and I tell you I had never laughed so hard in my life. But when I wasn’t laughing, I was listening intently to the fantastically colourful language that is Indian English – and while reading through these bloggers’ posts I was reminded of that time. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but have a look through the list and see for yourself. Linked by sudipta. Join Blogbharti facebook group. […]

    Posted by Indian English in all its flavours at Blogbharti on 4th August, 2010
  • Indian English is certainly quite a hodge-podge (or as we say in Hindi, khichdi). We use terms like ‘eve – teasing’ when talking about street sexual harassment of ‘the fair sex’, journalese for women and we turn Hindi verbs into English ones by adding the suffix ‘-fy’.

    The powerful influence of popular American culture has affected, or should I say ‘impacted’, our English. In the British English that we are taught, we meet people but meet with accidents. Some Indians have now started meeting with people and meeting up with friends.

    I’m sure there are many other words and expressions unique to Indian English but I think it would take an outsider to point them out since we are so used to our English that it’s normal to us.

    Posted by Kabir on 4th August, 2010
  • In Wisconsin, I worked at a medical software engineering company and several employees were from India. I remember one day when a new employee started, her manager sent an email asking all of us to “help her become acclimatized to her new position.” Acclimatized! No American English speaker would ever say that!

    Another time, a different Indian coworker said that a meeting had been preponed so he had to leave lunch early. We made more than just a little fun of him for making up a word (which I looked up later and found that “prepone” is indeed a word in Indian English, so I apologized for my part in the teasing).

    I think the fact that India has a word that is the opposite of “postpone” is interesting and might have something to do with our differences in culture. As an American, I am not surprised that American English speakers never found a need for the word “prepone” and it might say something about Indian culture that they did create the word.

    Posted by Denise Du Vernay on 27th September, 2010
  • Posted by Sujith on 4th October, 2010
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