Sunday, April 15, 2007

Indian English

Recently I read in Wikipedia that India has the highest English speaking population in this world - around 325 million, followed by US at 250 million. UK comes fifth in the list. China comes third(but there is a note saying that this is the no. of English users and not speakers) followed by Nigeria. English is an official language in India whereas it is not in UK and USA (They are defacto official but has not been declared)

There is a distinct English variety called "Indian English" (I've seen this option on one installation of Red hat
Linux). But all along I've been thinking that my English is not so very different from the English of the Brits. But this article proved me wrong. There seems to be a huge difference between the two. And the grammar that we are taught in schools are supposed to be archaic in UK (supposed to more specifically Scottish English) - result of our prescribed books being Wren & Martin and the likes that were written in the late 1800s. Here are some excerpts :
  1. Legacy of the East India Company and its practices still prevails in all official correspondence in India। Official letters continue to include phrases like "please do the needful" and "you will be intimated shortly".
  2. British writers who made creative (and comical) use of now obsolete forms of colloquial English, such as P.G. Wodehouse and Thomas Hardy, are still popular in India. It is ironic that although British writers Enid Blyton, P.G. Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie are now considered to have held racist views in their time, their books remain immensely popular in India. British writer, journalist and wit Malcolm Muggeridge once joked that рдеे last Englishman would be an Indian.
  3. Schools still teach grammar from (frequently older) British textbooks like Wren & Martin or J. C. Nesfield (1898): the grammar of higher British English is considered the only correct one. Efforts by the Oxford University Press to publish a dictionary of Indian English were an abject failure since customers in India preferred the 'proper' British dictionary.

Few things specific to Indian English:
  1. Usage of "out of hundred" instead of per cent: "He got hundred out of hundred" instead of "He got a hundred" or "He got a one hundred per cent".
  2. "Your good name please?": "What is your name?", carryover from Hindi expression "Shubh-naam", literally meaning "auspicious name".
  3. "Out of station" to mean "out of town".
  4. "send it across" instead of "send it over", as in "send the bill across to me" instead of "send the bill over to me".
  5. "back" replacing "ago" when talking about elapsed time, as in "I met him five years back" rather than "I met him five years ago." (Though this too is not uncommon in British English)
  6. "freak out" is meant to have fun, as in "let's go to the party and freak out."
  7. "pass out" is meant to graduate, as in "I passed out of the university in 1995."
  8. "go for a toss" is meant to go haywire or to flop, as in "my plans went for a toss when it started raining heavily."
  9. "funny" is meant to replace not only "odd"/"strange" but "rude"/"precocious"/"impolite" as well. "That man was acting really funny with me, so I gave him a piece of my mind"
  10. "on the anvil" is used often in the Indian press to mean something is about to appear or happen. For example, a headline might read "New roads on the anvil".
  11. "tight slap" to mean "hard slap".
  12. Use of Respected Sir while starting a formal letter instead of Dear Sir. Again, such letters are ended with non-standard greetings, such as "Yours respectfully", or "Yours obediently", rather than the standard "Yours sincerely/faithfully/truly".
  13. The phrase of 'the concerned person' is widely used in oral Indian English
  14. 'A child was born of wed lock' in Indian English has the opposite meaning of its English origin. (I really don't know what the opposite meaning is)
  15. "cent per cent" means "100 per cent" as in "He got cent per cent in maths."
  16. "centum" is also frequently used to refer to 100.
  17. "Metro" to mean large city (i.e. 'metros such as Delhi and Bangalore') This is a shortening of the term Metropolis. This can be confusing for Europeans, who tend to use the word to describe underground urban rail networks.
  18. Use of the word "shift" to indicate "move", as in "When are you shifting?" (instead of "When are you moving?").
  19. Batchmate or batch-mate (Not classmate, but a schoolmate of the same grade)
  20. Eve teasing (catcalling - harassment of women)
  21. Foot overbridge (bridge meant for pedestrians)
  22. "pass-out" to "graduate from college"
I really didn't know that our speech is so distinct from others. This is so cool!!! I like it.

For more info, here's the link :


arthi said...

Good job[:)]

Anonymous said...

Good work dear,

It was fun reading this article.

I was searching for the meaning of a phrase "go for a toss" on google and I landed up here on this page.

Anyway, it was a pleasant experience.

-Jigar, Pune, India.