Sunday, June 29, 2014

English as she is spoke in India

Is there a distinctive "Indian English"? Walt's The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992) [He means his copy of the book, not that he wrote it. Ed.] answers "Indeed so!" The entry for "Indian English" takes up nearly four pages.

And now there's a hashtag for it -- #IndianEnglish -- currently "trending" (whatever that means) in the sub-continent. Here are some examples:

"Open the windows and let the atmosphere come in."
"Today is my Happy Birthday."
[Giving directions] "Go straight you will get a circle. Take a round turn from that circle"
"Please revert back"

"I hate sound pollution due to traffic. It's very horny" [a reference to the sound of horns honking]
"I have to travel out of station" [away from home]
"I've invited our backside neighbour for dinner" [from the back of the building]

Many of the most-shared tweets are images of street signs, shops and the like, with dubious spelling and grammar. Some, like the one Walt has posted here, are grammatically correct but just... Indian. To see a large and funny collation, click here.

The creator of the hashtag says it's not about Indians taking pride in the uniqueness of their brand of English. Indeed, he says, Indians are highly class-conscious, and aspire to speaking "correct" English. "An ideal Indian of class should be able to recite Wordsworth as well as literature of his mother tongue."

That said, one tweet joked: "British messed our motherland we mess up their mothertongue #IndianEnglish".

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