Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oh, that Indian English bhi na?

Amit Mukherjee’s Indian English: What you think of grammar? Drew a good response on Caferati and following is my contribution:


Amit, I think technology is driving the development of language in ways we do not even realize. Caferati conducted an SMS poetry contest in which I was a participant. Words like "u" for "you" and "n" for "and" would definitely be recognized someday. The need arose out of the expediency of economizing a few finger depression on a telephone keypad (an product of technology). But till such time as the OED doesn't officially recognize this language let us use the unabridged versions.

About being multilingual, I agree. (I follow the American style of spelling and writing, as it is my bread and butter. So "realize" instead of "realize.") We are already multilingual in that when I speak to my colleagues in the US I use a different accent and language than when I speak to my colleagues in India.

In business process outsourcing units employees are told to speak slowly and emphasis the last syllables clearly. We tend to speak too fast and this habit is manifest in our writing. In fact, the language in the first post shows urgency and a shortness of breath, which is common when we speak in English.

And Jane, when I used to work with Brits in the Persian Gulf they had become so Indian in accent that newly-arrived Brits used to remark that they had gone "Completely native."

And Jon, it isn't genuflection, rather, an attempt by the local culture to assimilate a foreign language. Thus I hear a lot of Indians saying, "walk fast fast" instead of "walk faster" as they are used to saying "one one mango each" in their local tongues.


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