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  • Writer's pictureLalitha Murthy

Closing blog -This is not the end

All good things come to an end and we too, are wrapping up our series “We are like that only”.

“Don’t take tension”, my friend told me, “I am sure that it will get done”.

Does one take tension, or does one get tense? Don’t take tension is an often-used Indianism like “Sleep is coming”, where sleep, tension etc are always a noun.

I can go on and on. However, this is a time for reflection. I know that we have just scratched the surface and there are features which we haven’t been able to do justice to.

Each blog brought into focus some important aspect of Indian English.

Laksh touched upon pronunciation, which first became important during 1990s when many global companies started out sourcing their customer care functions to India. Many Indians realised that their pronunciation was not the global standard as many native speakers found it difficult to understand them. At that time, there was an emphasis on developing a neutral accent. This has changed in recent times, to a large extent, with awareness as well as automation of the BPO industry.

Most of the differences mentioned in the blogposts are those which are a result of direct translation from first language. So, we have Hinglish, a hybrid language where there are many Hindi words introduced in everyday English spoken by Indians. This is also true of Tamil, a language spoken in South of India. Jayashree’s post had a few examples. Each regional language has influenced English spoken in that region.

But there are some common factors; excessive use of the continuous tense (mainly because the simple present tense is not used in many Indian languages), using a word twice for emphasis, long winding sentences, using flowery archaic expressions, and many more.

In Business communication, Indian English has crept in. As Triparni points out “However, when we are responsible for being the voice of a brand, catering to their geography specific audience, that’s when learning words, tonality, and expressions that are familiar to them is a business imperative."

What we couldn’t touch upon is the fact that learning English is difficult for Indians, as unlike Indian languages, in English, the number of sounds is more than the number of letters. The number of letters and sounds are the same in Indian languages which makes it easy to learn writing once you learn to speak. In Indian languages, we write as we speak.

The desire of many Indians to speak good English is evident by the number of language schools which have sprung up even in remote areas. The Indian youth sees English as a stepping stone to better jobs. For many these jobs are not overseas but involve interacting only with other Indians. Ans so, they desire to learn Indian English, and not other varieties.

Indian English has come to stay; Being ‘like that only’ is now accepted.


Lalitha Murthy is a Business Communication consultant with over 20 years’ experience. She provides customised solutions to the communication needs of employees in global organisations. She is the co-founder of BCFAI.

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