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Indian English Essay

1154 words - 5 pages

There are over 350 million English users in India, making Indian English one of the most widely spoken varieties of English in the world. Indian English has been used and developed since the East India Company began trading in India, four centuries ago. While the language is easily identifiable as an English, it differs in many areas. Phonological differences exist, from the additional stress put on vowels to the accent used. There are lexical differences, such as the shortening of words to form new ones with different classes, or the extensive use of initialisms. Indian English users use many compound formed words, allowing them to express ideas which do not have an equivalent in Standard English. Users of Indian English often lengthen sentences by changing the tense, and have various grammatical quirks that Standard English users would find strange. Indian English has a long history, and is still being developed today.
Indian English has been developing since the East India Company first set up ports in India. However, it did not gain widespread usage until the nineteenth century. Originally, the Company encouraged English people living in India to learn Sanskrit or another local language. Despite this, English slowly began to take hold. 1774 was an important year for English in India as it is when English finally became “the language of the Supreme Court in Calcutta” (Gupta 1996). Soon after, in 1835, Lord Macaulay wrote his Minute on Indian Education. This convinced the Governor-General of India to establish a position for the use of the English language in Indian educational Institutions, writing "the great object of the British Government ought to be the promotion of European literature and science among the natives of India" (Thirumalai 2003). The East India Company, with its huge political influence, eventually became the Raj, concreting English’s place in India.
Most phonological variation between Standard and Indian English is in the accent. There is a great variation in this aspect of the language across India. Some people speak with and accent very close to Received Pronunciation, while others have a much stronger Indian accent. In these more colloquial accents, extra stress is placed in some of the vowels, resulting in a very different sound to the traditional pronunciation of words. Often a long vowel followed by “r” will be pronounced as a monophthong, rather than the diphthong used in Standard English. For example, the word “period”, normally pronounced /piəɹɪəd/, is instead be pronounced /pɪɹɪəd/ (Wells 1982). Another quirk of Indian English is the pronunciation of the definite and indefinite articles. While Standard English pronounces “the” as /ðə/ when unstressed and before a consonant, but /ðiː/ before a vowel or when stressed, Indian English uses /diː/ regardless of stress. “A” is often used even before vowels, and users often must make a conscious effort to use “an”. “A” is often pronounced as /eː/, instead of the Standard...

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