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Thursday, October 7, 2010

THE INDIAN ENGLISH

My knowledge, limited as it is, is aware of two widely spoken forms of English, the American version and the British version. Any reference to the Indian English till date, has been to ridicule the way Indians speak. This is my attempt at changing it.

English is a language I have always been comfortable with and the credit for this goes to my parents, who tried hard to make me at least half as proficient as them. A lot of my childhood friends are from different parts of the country, so we mainly conversed in English and that was another reason for me to presuppose my expertise in the language.

Oral communication (OC) is a vital part of training for any organization which deals with clients from all over the world. You can understand its importance in the Indian IT industry, which has a 99% client base abroad.

Confident strides, filled with conceit, take me to the room where my OC sessions take place, with a belief that these sessions are for the “lesser mortals”.

The first few classes went like a breeze and then along came phonetics. This is when my pride was murdered. My heavily accented trainer asked us to pronounce the first, relatively easy word, “hello”. The responses poured in, “Hell-o”, “Hellooo”, “Heyy loo”, “hi”, “what’s up”, “Namaste”.

My bewildered trainer goes, “Neo neo neo”! Neo? Under the heavy accent the NO turned into a NEO. In that American accent she further adds, “We follow the British English. It’s ‘hu-llo’. Say it with me“. British English in an American accent? Anyway, I got the first one right but I knew that this wasn’t going to be our regular OC class.

Word after word the situation kept changing. Initially, I just stuck to what I knew. After a point I was made to realize, that all of what I knew was wrong. Since tactic 1 wasn’t working out too well, I decided to twist and turn every word asked and add a bit of an accent of my own to please the trainer. Now, not only was I saying the words wrong, I was also making a fool of myself.

Russel Peters, the comedian of Indian origin from Canada, was sceptical before his visit to India as a lot of his jokes were on the Indian accent and he wasn’t quite sure how the Indian audience would react to them. But to his surprise, the Indians laughed harder than anybody else to these very jokes. He said, “It’s not because Indians have a great sense of humour but because they believe that they don’t have an accent”. Eventually, I realized how true this was.

Coming back to our session, after the torrid start, things started getting a lot comfortable here. After the entire ego bashing session, there weren’t any “lesser mortals”, we were all equal. Come on, we couldn’t all be wrong. The only person, who wasn’t in the same boat as us, was the trainer. As expected, our trainer was soon the target of the jokes. “She talks funny man. I doubt if it’s even right”. Every time she would pick a new word, we would laugh and turn to a friend and say, “Did you just hear that? Imagine us talking like that. People would think we are crazy”. So the session ended with us ridiculing all that we were taught and laughing at the “strange” pronunciations of the otherwise common words.

Studies point out that India is going to be the largest English speaking nation by 2025, so I feel we must be given some credit. Instead of trying to change the way a billion plus people speak, welcome a new standard of English, The Indian English. It could just be the the standard for the future. I can visualize the future president of America in a pensive mood, about to address the nation. He says, "The problem is coming fastly. We musht do something something to make it okay soonly. Okay? Ta ta bye bye". Don't give me that look. It might just happen.

16 comments:

Shanky said...

When speaking to the natives here, I talk slowly... Pretty dumb ppl here macha! ;) They dont the understand their own bloody language!! :)

ABI said...

so can i not say...
1) folkswagen and stick wid vo-kswagen (dont correct me d next tym)
so 2) mi-ha becomes mija
3) mo-hi-to becomes mojito
4) ha-le-peen-yo becomes jalepeno
5) ga- teau becomes gatex (lol.. sounds funny:P) in indian...
now wat?? u ll want indian german, indian latin,indian-french.. and d indian-rest :P *smirk!!

i also agree dat t wud be comfortable to hv indian english..

(p.s am jus giving u ur daily dose of entertainment,, nuthn personal.. :P)

Mythreya said...

ha ha loved the last line!!
well given a thought i liked ur argument....why do we have to change the way a billion people speak!

well only the future will tell..

Varshaa said...

I totally agree wid the concept of Indian english !!

Here, these Americans alwaz think english is our 2nd language. I have to keep re correcting them and askin them not to group us wid china. Loosers ! I hate it wen they do tht. Its intimidating..

mink said...

'we too' had a similar session 'wonly' during 'avvar' training da. :D
it seemed funny to us too

TinTo said...

I just wonder.. how does her pro'none'ciation "brings down her sex life".... (another quote from Russel Peters' show).. :D

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Shanky--- ha ha ha sounds funny man :P
@Abi-- LOL!!! Guess I'm a creature of habit :P and thank you ;)
@Mythreya--- thanks man :D let's just wait and watch
@Varshaa--- Sounds bad...let's start the revolution :D
@Mink--- you are my corporate brother...u ought to understand ;)

ABI said...

hun,,u r welcome :D, but dis blog jus got me thinkin,i jus cudn stop wid saying ts awesome as a blog(like i usually do).
i jus beg 2 differ wid u( jus a lil bit,not alot) cos ts no more A,B,C,D in schools,,its ei,bi,si,di.. kids start wid phonetics dese days(so v r d old lot now... yeahh... :P) and ts either taught by an english bloke or by an american la(i)dy..:P dese international schools wid cambridge syllabus and d american equivalent sylabus (watevr)are being a muse dese days,so d elite and d upper middle class kids r brot up wid an accent awrdy in standard, and ts jus getting popular, evryday.Before t was only d boarding schools in hill stations dat followed such syllabus but dese days even cities got schools of dat standard. And also d callcentre culture gives d middle class kids a chance 2 sass all d tym and ts not bad tho..:P so d truth is v r changing and v hv started 2 follow d standards dat awrdy exists.and wen t comes 2 ppl in poverty, let 'em learn tamil or anything at al .. 'uh let 'em kids go 2 schools first"
and den wen v talk about our NRI uncles and their family, oly d first generation talks the so called indian english,but their kids talk their nation.. so the rest of the lot follows d standard in existance.
and u know wut?i personally dont like sukvinder singh singing tamil songs cos he kills my mother tongue (he gets in2 my las nerve), tho he s gud at singing..and i bet u laff at tamil wen dey talk hindi or english wid a funny and a heavy accent.:P and also,der cannot be more than 2 standards den they aint called standards..they are just a 'lot' then.. :P so v cant even expect indian english 2 become a standard any day and english shud be english and not indian ,like hindi shud be hindi and not american hindi.. :P lol

PS: no offence intended,, i swear on caeser's ghost.. :P

diwi said...

cool.... indian english basically.. rockzz.. its like...(for me atleaast)da most cool for of english 1 cn spk.... jst need a lil base of english 2... spk in dis.. indian english!! :)

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Abi--- I'll tell you a few things
1) This is the longest comment I have got. Almost felt like a blog in itself :P

2) I never really thought so much about the topic :P

3) And thank you for all the additional information. I wasn't aware of all this.

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Diwi--- ha ha ha good to know I have support

ABI said...

oh yeah ... anytym ;) and the original comment was even longer, i cudn post t..i had 2 cut t short.. :P

ABI said...

oh yeah ... anytym ;) and the original comment was even longer, i cudn post t..i had 2 cut t short.. :P

diwi said...

cool.... indian english basically.. rockzz.. its like...(for me atleaast)da most cool for of english 1 cn spk.... jst need a lil base of english 2... spk in dis.. indian english!! :)

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Shanky--- ha ha ha sounds funny man :P
@Abi-- LOL!!! Guess I'm a creature of habit :P and thank you ;)
@Mythreya--- thanks man :D let's just wait and watch
@Varshaa--- Sounds bad...let's start the revolution :D
@Mink--- you are my corporate brother...u ought to understand ;)

mink said...

'we too' had a similar session 'wonly' during 'avvar' training da. :D
it seemed funny to us too