Influence of English Language in India

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       Officially English has a status of assistant language, but in fact it is the most important language of India. After Hindi it is the most commonly spoken language in India and probably the most read and written language in India. Indians who know English will always try to show that they know English. English symbolises in Indians minds, better education, better culture and higher intellect. Indians who know English often mingle it with Indian languages in their conversations. It is also usual among Indians to abruptly move to speak fluent English in the middle of their conversations. English also serves as the commnicator among Indians who speak different language. English is very important in some systems - legal, financial, educational, business - in India. Until the beginning of 1990s, foreign movies in India weren't translated or dubbed in Indian languages, but were broadcast in English and were meant for English speakers only. The reason Indians give such importance to English is related to the fact that India was a British colony (see Europeans in India).


Rabindranath Tagore own noble prize is influence of Indian English language and literature
Tagore own Noble prize

      When the British start running India, they searched for Indian mediators who could help them to administer India. The British turned to high caste Indians to work for them. Many caste Indians, especially the Brahmans worked for them. The British policy was to create an Indian class who should think like the British, or as it was said then in Britain "Indians in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinions and morals and intellect". The British also established in India universities based on British models with emphasis on English.


      These Indians also got their education in British universities. The English Christian missionaries came to India from 1813 and they also built schools at primary level for Indians in which the language of instruction was local language. Later on the missionaries built high schools with English as the language of instruction which obliged the Indians who wanted to study to have a good knowledge of English.


      The British rulers began building their universities in India from 1857. English became the first language in Indian education. The 'modern' leaders of that era in India also supported English language and claimed it to be the main key towards success. Indians who knew good English were seen as the new elite of India. Many new schools were established in which the language of instruction was English. According to the British laws the language of instruction at university level was English and therefore schools that emphasized English were preferred by ambitious Indians. Even after India's independence, English remained the main language of India. Officially it was given a status of an assistant language and was supposed to terminate officially after 15 years of India's independence, but it still remains the important language of India.


      Even today schools in India that emphasis English are considered better schools and the same is the case at university levels, even though there is a trend towards Indianization. In the 1970s and 1980s about one third of the Indian schools had English as their first language. For most of these students, English is their first language and it is easier for them to communicate, read and write in English than in Indian languages, including their mother tongues.


      Just like the Americans, Australians or even the British who have their unique English words and phrases, the Indians also have their own unique English. The Indians and the Indian English language press uses many words derived from Indian languages, especially from Hindi. Other than that, the Indian accent is sometimes difficult for non-Indians to understand, There are some Indian pronunciations that don't exist in non-Indian languages. The British also had problems with that and they caused some changes in Indian words so that they could pronounce them. Even the Indians started using these changed words and made them part of their English. Two examples of such changed words are currey and sari.


      English has been with India since the early 1600's, when the East India Company started trading and English missionaries first began their efforts. A large number of Christian schools imparting an English education were set up by the early 1800's. The process of producing English-knowing bilinguals in India began with the Minute of 1835, which officially endorsed T.B. Macaulay's goal of forming "a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern - a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect" (quoted in Kachru 1983, p. 22). English became the official and academic language of India by the early twentieth century. The rising of the nationalist movement in the 1920's brought some anti-English sentiment with it - even though the movement itself used English as its medium.


      Once independence was gained and the English were gone, the perception of English as having an alien power base changed; however, the controversy about English has continued to this day. Kachru notes that "English now has national and international functions that are both distinct and complementary. English has thus acquired a new power base and a new elitism". Only about three percent of India's population speak English, but they are the individuals who lead India's economic, industrial, professional, political, and social life. Even though English is primarily a second language far these persons, it is the medium in which a great number of the interactions in the above domains are carried out. Having such important information moving in English conduits is often not appreciated by Indians who do not speak it, but they are relatively powerless to change that. Its inertia is such that it cannot be easily given up. This is particularly true in South India, where English serves as a universal language in the way that Hindi does in the North. Despite being a three percent minority, the English speaking population in India is quite large. With India's massive population, that three percent puts India among the top four countries in the world with the highest number of English speakers. English confers many advantages to the influential people who speak it - which has allowed it to retain its prominence despite the strong opposition to English which rises periodically.


      The varieties of English one comes across in India may be considered to be distinct variants of the language. They evolved out of British English imbibing several features of pronunciation, grammar and semantics from the native languages of India. A superset of all those varieties could be referred to as 'Indian English'. Indian Variants of English (TVE) is, however, a more apt phrase for these varieties. There is a great deal of regional variation in terms of pronunciation within Indian English.


      Similar to the different regional accents of English in Britain, Indian English has very distinct pronunciation patterns in the different regions of India. The different areas, such as North-Eastern India, Bengal, Orissa, Andhra and Karnataka, as well as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Panjab and Bihar, all add different flavours of pronunciation. Comparing Indian English' with British Received Pronunciation (BRP), we find many cases of Indianisms. A few examples are: (a) Diphthongs in BRP corresponding to pure long vowels in Indian pronunciation (e.g. 'cake' and 'poor' pronounced as 'ke:k' and 'pu:r, respectively); (b) The alveolar Sounds 't' and 'd' of BRP pronounced as 'retroflex' (harsher sounds); (c) the dental fricatives 'Ø' and '&' replaced by 'soft th' and 'soft d' (e.g. 'thick' pronounced as 'thik' rather than 'Øik. (d) 'v' and 'w' in BRP are both pronounced somewhat similar to 'w' in many parts of India and they are usually merged with 'b' in Bengali, Assamese and Oriya pronunciations of English (e.g. 'vine' and 'wine' are both pronounced somewhat similar to 'wine', whereas 'vet', 'wet' and 'bet' are all pronounced as 'bet' in Bengali speech). Some words that are not found in English elsewhere are used in Indian English. These are either innovations or translations of some native words or phrases. Examples here would include cousin brother (for male cousin), preponed (advance or bring forward in time), and foreign-returned (returned from abroad). There are also examples of Indianisms in grammar, such as the pluralization of non-count nouns (eg. breads, foods, advices) and the use of the present progressive for the simple present (I am knowing).

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