Bharat or India is famous for exclusive visual beauty, architectural marvels, past engraved in stones, and timeless beauties that survived centuries of destruction. Many more can be to add to the list: ancient astronauts, astrologers, famous mathematicians, scriptures, Ayurveda, Yoga, and epics followed diligently, even outside India.
We have diverse cultures, languages, politics, and history which makes us proud. As the world fights the worst pandemic in the name of the coronavirus our form of greeting is popular and most hygienic. We are true and proud Indians.
Most states in India have English as a medium of instruction. English is the most widely spoken and used as the business language in the world.
Even if English is the national language of the country, each region has its dialect with a unique tone "English produced in India”. Indianness encompasses more than just national identification; it also includes customs, culture, and our amazing civilization. Often, one might uncover amusing phrases or statements that make little sense in the original English language. We spice up English by adding a dash of local flavour. Indianism is an amalgamation of all the factors mentioned.
Many common expressions in everyday situations are rare in other countries, such as “passed out” from Modern School or using the expression "non-veg" to indicate a desire to consume meat and the use of Brinjal. That does not make them incorrect or even charming. It simply identifies them as Indians.
Some expressions or phrases can be encountered in the workplace (for different reasons), and I would like to share them.
"Airdash" ("the CEO airdashed to Japan") and "history-sheeter" ("the police revealed that the notorious criminal XYX was a history sheeter," i.e., he had a long criminal record) are two examples of Indian English that have made their way into common usage and thanks to our media.
Many feel they are proficient in the English language when they say “My uncle expired last Sunday.” We fail to notice that the term “expired” is used for products for their expiry. We want to showcase our English language proficiency and tend to show excessive respect.
We never forget to include “No” in a questioning tone at the end of a sentence. That is how we are. “We are like that only, isn’t it?” is another exclusive usage of Indians. “You are going to Pune no”? and we become a butt of ridicule when we ask this question near the boarding gate! We ask “the Rahul Bhai to cut the call”. We forget that these mistakes are quite obvious to the native speaker and the meaning changes ! People tend to worry “Importantly” about a fact in the office.
We assure the listener that we will correct our errors and “slowly slowly” we will learn the nuances of the job. We repeat the words and stress the fact that we will do it. Think before you utter!
We “basically” and “actually” live in Pune. We “belong” to Pune and “I was born here only/itself” in Pune. No doubt these phrases are used only in India. Why can’t we simply say “I live in Pune” and remember Pune does not belong to you alone!
We always “discuss about” the profit margin in our office when we are supposed to only discuss it. And the latest literal translation is “ He has got home from work” and he orders for burgers from home is the ultimate. The literal translation of the mother tongue usage and he uses different different (alag, alag) modes to order burgers. Indians enjoy going out of the station and not out of town. Boss eats their heads before going out of the station.
Every language has its norms, grammatical structure, and selection of words. However, our culture and first language often colours the way we use English. Let us be sure and not cent percent sure to complete the task at our workplace.
In a real-life situation, most of these Indianisms may come through as bad grammar and poor sentence structure to our clients. However, nuances of Indian English have come to stay. We are like that only!!!
Jayasree Menon is a Business Communication Trainer at the English Language Teaching Institute of Symbiosis, Pune. She conducts communication skills training and Corporate Training Assignments at different national and multi-national companies and B schools in and outside Pune. She can be reached on LinkedIn here.