Sunday, September 23, 2007
English, Indian style
(culled from the Globe and Mail and The Daily Telegraph)
"Binoo John, a 50-year-old Indian journalist, has compiled a collection of expressions found in Indian English. His book's title, Entry From Backside Only refers to a phrase commonly used on signposts to indicate the rear entrance of a building.
Mr. John was inspired by years of reading Indian newspaper reports of politicians "air-dashing" to a destination, "issueless" couples (those without children) and people "preponing" (bringing forward meetings). Such phrases are entrenched.
In India, a driver, when asked what he does, may refer to his occupation as "drivery." Housemaids on their way to buy vegetables say they are going "marketing." Receptionists ask "What is your good name?" before informing them that the boss has gone "out of station" (out of town) with his "cousin-brother" (male cousin). A government official urged farmers in Rajasthan to grow "herbs in their backsides" (backyards).
English is finally being claimed by Indians as their own, instead of a relic of the Raj."
According to John, "...economic prosperity has changed attitudes towards Indian English. Having jobs and incomes, and being noticed by the rest of the world, have made Indians confident, and the same confidence has attached itself to their English."
While I have never used the term to "grow herbs in one's backside", I have to confess to being quite partial to using the word "prepone". It does sound so much more efficient than "bring forward to", right? I also use, on occasion, the phrase "love marriage" which simply refers to a marriage that has not been arranged by one's parents. Another favorite expression of mine and many other Indians, is "pindrop silence". Infact I was using it quite happily in my conversations with Canadians until my children pointed out that the term is not common parlance here.
Indian-English is a sub-genre that has taken on a life of its own, the phraseology might not always make sense to a speaker of English in the west, but it will delight and entertain you! It even has its own dictionary these days: