It’s a known fact that we as Indians have our own way of speaking English which differs from the language spoken by the native speakers. Our usages of words, idioms, phrases and pronunciation deviates from the global language. Whether it is food or language we all have desi versions; Indian Chinese food or Indian English. Our “tadka” never eludes us. We also call the desi version of our language as “Indianisms”. Indianisms according to the Oxford dictionary is “a word or idiom characteristic of Indian English”. I must confess that I have long been the user myself, for example, I used to say “Please do the needful” which went out of style long back. It sounds too vague or unwieldy. Instead, I have started asking for the task that needs to be done. I am more specific now. For example, “please advise” or “please review”.
Let’s take another example.
Scenario: The Interview
Interviewer: What’s your good name?
Candidate: My name is Sonal.
Interviewer: When did you graduate from the college?
Candidate: Sir, I passed out in 2020.
Interviewer: Where do you stay?
Candidate: I put up in Gurugram.
(And the interview continues for a while)
I would urge you to read the words or phrases that are in bold once more. Check whether you understand them. As Indians, may be as we tend to use them almost on a daily basis. However, Non-Indians may not understand them and the above questions and answers would even be grammatically incorrect for them. The first question is translated from Hindi language “aapka shubh naam kya hei?” (“What’s your good name?”). While speaking English language it’s not a good idea to translate from Hindi to English. “Pass out” is to become unconscious and hence cannot be applauded for and you either “live” or “stay” in the city and not “put up”. Well, notice Indianisms are used both by the Interviewer and the candidate in the above scenario. Well, anybody can use it; the interviewer has the right too, isn’t it? However, if the candidate is aware of the Indianisms he or she should not correct the interviewers during the interview else we can almost predict the direction of the interview.
There are various reasons why would people speak like this. Firstly, we have grown up learning the language that has been taught to us by our teachers and family members who were even unaware of the usage of Indianisms. Secondly, little exposure to the global language. Next, is the low confidence of the speakers and of course lack of practice.
On the contrary, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, the writer and the wordsmith, par excellence dissects words and language in Khaleej Times. “Mind you, I can still make a case, through frequent usage, to being somewhat involved in its popularisation!” He further reiterates, “So many words in Indian English, including “prepone”, have stood up to the only test that matters — the test of time and usage. If enough people find a word or phrase useful, it is, to my mind, legitimate.”
Whatever be the case, there is no harm in knowing about Indianisms. Google it and voila you have number of words and expressions listed. Awareness can lead to avoidance of various awkward situations. As they say, Ignorance may not be a bliss anymore though “we are like that only” attitude may not always work in our favor.
Shweta Sikroria works as Soft Skills Trainer for a management institute at present. She is also coach/mentor students for their Language skills. She is a calm and composed human who focuses on maintaining stability and harmony in relationships. At workplace, her contributions would be consistency, collaborative skills and eye for quality.