Monday, July 12, 2004

Indian English

John M. Lawler of University of Michigan observes the following anomalies in the grammar of Indian English:

The progressive tense in static verbs: I am understanding it. She is knowing the answer.
Variations in noun number and determiners: He performed many charities. She loves to pull your legs.

Prepositions: pay attention on, discuss about, convey him my greetings

Tag questions: You're going, isn't it? He's here, no?
Word order Who you have come for? They're late always. My all friends are waiting.
Yes and no agreeing to the form of a question, not just its content -- A: You didn't come on the bus? B: Yes, I didn't."

A few words unique to Indian English:
cousin-brother (male cousin)
would-be (fiance/fiancee)
batchmate or batch-mate (Not classmate, but of same age schoolmate)
crore (ten million)
lakh (hundred thousand)
Eve-teasing (harassment of women)
godown (warehouse)
Himalayan blunder (grave mistake)
opticals (eyeglasses)
nose-screw (woman's nose ornament)
scheduled caste (lowest Hindu caste)
prepone (the opposite of 'postpone')
foot over bridge (bridge)
British writer, journalist and wit Malcolm Muggeridge once joked that the last Englishman would be an Indian.


Anirudh Garg said...

Great examples of Indian English dude ! Awesome !
Had great fun reading them ..

Paddy said...

Thank you.You keep it up too.

Mudra Rakshasa said...

You struck a cord there man! I recall very fondly all those instances of English in India as it was misspoke and mis-written (?).

A jeweller in a Bombay suburb had a board outside his shop that said “why go anywhere else to be cheated, come here.” I guess there was nothing wrong with the English in that instance, but for the Freudian slip.

Conversational English is an absolute minefield. An absolutely hilarious example, I remember, was a local corporate official in a big city in Western India recommending I visit a temple “in the backside of (his – sic) mother-in-law.”

Then there is a proclivity to using phrases like ‘suiting-shirting,’ ‘out of station (as in “sahib is going gone out of station, you come again tomorrow”). Or what about ‘What’s your good name?’ The really interesting ones are the translations of vernacular phrases. A peon at Bombay University never tired of asking for “tea-water money,” from people visiting the registrar’s office. And a Malayali acquaintance once told me “not to get into the gun and shoot.”

I have also noticed the tendency among south Indians, especially speakers of Tamil to translate whatever they are saying in Tamil into English. “Adumaadiri chaiyya koodathu… You shouldn't do like that…”

Paddy said...

Mudra Rakshasa,

Thanks.I like your additions.Let me edit the blog to incorporate yor comment's addition.