Language In India.

The image on the left is the cover of a book that explains a fascinating phenomenon and I hope that some of my interested readers will read it to understand why I find it so.

My employer during most of my working career was an English company and all communication was in English. All our customers spoke local languages and were also most uncomfortable with English. Among the many innovations that I had brought in during my career as a Manager was to let reports from field personnel be simple and mostly statistical in nature with the narrative kept in minimum because most of the salesforce were not comfortable with English either. I even encouraged the reports being written in local languages if important enough, so that the content could be conveyed accurately. We had to use translators to understand and take action but, that was a small price to pay for effectiveness.

India is a country with 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. However, figures from other sources vary, primarily due to differences in definition of the terms “language” and “dialect”.  Barring the Hindi belt the all the other states, have different languages as their official languages and most schools teach in the local language.

English has a unique place in India thanks to our colonial days and higher education particularly in Engineering and Medicine has been in English.  Many students struggle with this arrangement as they have to learn English in addition to their other subjects.

Under the circumstances, I found this news item fascinating and unlike our snobs welcome this development. I hope that the rest of the country follows suit.

Hinglish is actually a local name for the combination of Hindi and English. You can also have Tamlish for Tamil and English, Maratish for Marathi and English and so on and so forth. Purists usually are appalled at the usage but I for one encourage it as the idea is to communicate effectively and not be snobbish about the correct use of language.

Among other things, I find it quite interesting as to how American English and English English are different and also the various accents around the world when speaking in English.

Language is fascinating.  Here is another instance to lighten my readers up.  This is a sign board for the office of a Law Firm.

The lawyers do not seem to mind. I suppose that the clients understand what the sign says. Only snobs will find find fault with it.

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18 Responses to Language In India.

  1. Ursula says:

    “Low Ferm” is not exactly confidence inspiring. Low? What, lay low? Ferm? Fermentation aka a “low”suit which will take years?

    Good luck to any … ish. I think it stinks to high heaven having to adopt a language that is not the country’s. Having said that, spare a thought for Switzerland – a tiny country, hemmed in by their neighbours. Four languages, from North to South via West and a blob: German, French, Italian and a smidgen of a language no one talks any longer.

    There is a lot to be said to just make yourself understood. Regardless. Use your eyes, hand and feet – for dramatic effect. Yet, my particular pet subject the Americanisms that slip not just into English; oh, no: Everywhere on mainland Europe. I am not so much past caring as go with the flow in everyday lingo. What’s it to me if I suddenly adopt “I am conflicted”? Come again? Conflicted? Now we are making verbs out of nouns?

    Sigh, of exhaustion. In the scheme of things, my dear Ramana, it matters zilch.

    U

  2. shackman says:

    When it comes to communication, any port in a storm. The key is effective communication. Not only is there a large difference between UK and American English, regional dialects in the USA compound that issue. Plus, English is the primary language for commercial aircraft. Smart move having reports done in the local language –

    • Shackman, I would dearly love to escort you around India. Take the common language English. It is spoken in all our states but, each state has its own accent and each state makes fun of the others for that! Thank you for the compliment. I am very proud of that one innovation.

  3. I’m with you — whatever facilitates communication.

  4. kylie says:

    I suspect that some talented doctors will be able to practice medicine more effectively when they use less energy dealing with unfamiliar language. This is a good move

  5. Kaitlin says:

    I agree languages are interesting. And how they morph over time and based on different influences.

  6. we both spell it “dance” but skip from Australia to New Zealand and the pronunciation is totally different; other instances of course…

    and my English in the UK in the 1960s had plenty of “you don’t mean that…” when in fact it didn’t even cross my mind it could mean “that”

    One of the problems with adjusting language at times is when you want to move/migrate to another country who doesn’t use your “mix” even if you have the most fabulous qualifications in your field…

    then there is the next problem your children start school, and suddenly they are interpreters for their parents. when I was working for a voluntary organisation (not the weavers) – there would be 10 year olds asking for their parents about all kinds of things, that a 10 year shouldn’t be doing. – an example “we don’t have any food left? can we get food parcel” or “we have got behind on our car repayments, who can we sort that out?” or even harder “my husband has left me/is beating me up”

    • Among the accents that I find fascinating, the Australian is on top. Cricket commentary particularly is simply an adventure! The Yorkshire accent is another for cricket. We have within India so many accents that just by listening to someone, one can identify their roots.

      And yes, the phraseology can be confusing too. Your examples are so typical.

  7. Joared says:

    Language usage is so fascinating. Though the topic is hardly dead, some years ago what really came to the forefront here in the U.S. was “Black English”. So many were all aflutter for a few years. Academic studies and research finally determined, this was, indeed, a language that had rules so could be acceptable, not just poor grammar.

    You must have this situation magnified with so many languages. Learning even some of these languages is really stimulating the brain neurologically — learning something new — which science tells is is a real positive for maintaining a healthy aging brain.

    The most important factor is that we understand one another. So what if we find a word or phrase in another language, or dialect, that better expresses what our language lacks the ability to express in words — adopt it! So many nuances that can convey so much.

    • You are bang on and reflect my own thoughts on the effectiveness coming from the way the language is used rather than it being grammatically correct or otherwise.

  8. Wisewebwoman says:

    I am a fan of Hiberno- English having been brought up in it. Such combinations can enrich a language immeasurably. Language us viable and evolving constantly. We need to keep up not condemn.

    XO
    WWW

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