AS discussed in the last part, English is used for many purposes and its ascendancy is increasing. Today, we will try to deal with the question, ‘what kind of English we are using and how far it is intelligible/acceptable?’
Before dealing with the question we must understand that India is a land of great diversity. Kerala is as different from Tamil Nadu as France is from Britain. Yet, we move on, in part thanks to Hindi and English, precisely Hinglish. Over the last few centuries, English has acquired a unique flavour of its own. We often find that any good English dictionary is inadequate or incorrect when dealing with certain words or phrases that have changed in the Indian context e.g. badshah, jawan, utsav, sangam, etc. In such context, people like to call it ‘Indian English’; sometimes proudly and sometimes sarcastically. The impact of India’s indigenous languages can be seen on Indian English. There are number of words from Hindi, Sanskrit and other Indian languages used in Indian English.
Indian English is a catch-all phrase for the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people and their indigenous languages. However, it suffers from some grammatical errors. Some view all the colloquial usages and the errors together as Indian English. But it is not considered ‘correct’ by government institutions. However, it is observed that the grammar of second foreign language is influenced by the mother tongue. So the need is to make Indian English more intelligible to the world at large.
Indian English needs to rectify on various levels. The wrong use of tenses and precisely progressive tense in stative verbs e.g. ‘I am liking it very much’, instead of ‘I like it very much’ being used by the Indian speakers. The wrong use in noun number and determiners e.g. ‘she performs many charities’, instead of ‘she gives away a lot in charity’ is practiced. The incorrect tag questions e.g. ‘they did it, no? / He is here, isn’t it? / She closed the door, did she?’, instead of ‘they did it, didn’t they? / He is here, isn’t he? / She closed the door, didn’t she?’ is popular or incorrectly used.
You may find that the use of typical rhyming double-words e.g. let’s go out for some ice-cream-vice-cream. Instead of, let us go out for some ice-cream (ice-cream and stuff). Overuse of adverbs such as ‘actually/ obviously/generally/seriously’ etc is used e.g. ‘Seriously, she is a good person’, instead of ‘she is a good person’. We tent to use the words but or only as intensifiers e.g. ‘I was just joking but.’ or ‘It was she only who baked this cake.’ Use of the word ‘ki’ (from Hindi) to mean, loosely, that, as an example in ‘What I mean is ki we should adopt this plan instead’ is used repeatedly.
Though many may perceive the accent, terminology, and conversational style as ‘funny’, in reality it is just different English that cannot simply be equated with either American or British English. Indians are familiar with both types of English, but Indian English has acquired its own character in a country which is a melting pot of various cultures, people, and traditions. It is observed that the words for animals, plants and trees, geographical names etc are used in English from indigenous languages. The process of nativisation of English is owing to the impact of local languages as well as to the cultural environment and communicative needs. But, this maybe viewed positively as it safeguards social, cultural and religious identities of the people.
Language is a means of communicating thoughts and so long as it is able to perform this prime function, it stands vindicated, whatever the purists may say. But still we must try to build your own Indian English Dictionary to enjoy the equal status with British and American English.
Please do post your views on ‘what do you think about Indian English/ Indlish?’