India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and, due to its population of over 1.2 billion and its growing middle class, many companies around the world are doing business with Indian companies – in English. You’ve heard of British English and American English. So is there an Indian English?
Until it became independent in 1947, India was part of the British Empire. When the British left, they left many things behind – including their language.
After independence, India wanted to have only Hindi as its official language. But the Indian constitution recognises 23 different languages and the speakers of the other languages wanted English to be the second official language.
Today, only a few hundred thousand use English as their first language, mainly the political and cultural elites. Very few Indians speak English with a ‘British’ accent. The rest speak an English which is strongly influenced by their first language (like Hindi, Bengali or Tamil), so there are often differences in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
English is often seen as cooler or more intelligent and, as a result, many Indians use English words or phrases when speaking their first language. This is known as “Hinglish” and is often used by companies in their advertising. Pepsi, for example, used the slogan “Yehi hai right choice, baby!” (“This is the right choice, baby!”) to appeal to its customers.
It’s not all about taking, though. The many languages of India have also given English many words, too. Some examples are yoga, guru, bungalow, pyjamas, shampoo and jungle.
Have you ever spoken English to someone from India?