Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This leads to the question - do Indians appreciate their own English? Ultimately, I think they do. It has been said that Indians have made English into a native language with its own linguistic and cultural ecologies and sociocultural contexts. My informants indicated that in many ways, Indian English is very much their own. Its special functions have engraved English into the cultural life of India, and it is very much a part of the experience of being Indian -- even if one does not speak it. Many Indians feel that the use of English should be actively encouraged because of the many advantages it confers - the greatest of which is its universal character.

The Indian writer and philosopher Raja Rao wrote,
"Truth, said a great Indian sage, is not the monopoly of the Sanskrit language. Truth can use any language, and the more universal, the better it is. If metaphysics is India's primary contribution to world civilization, as we believe it is, then must she use the most universal language for her to be universal.... And as long as the English language is universal, it will always remain Indian.... It would then be correct to say as long as we are Indian -- that is, not nationalists, but truly Indians of the Indian psyche -- we shall have the English language with us and amongst us, and not as a guest or friend, but as one of our own, of our caste, our creed , our sect and our tradition" (quoted in Kachru 1986, p. 12).

Jason Baldridge


neha said...

I think you are not Indian enough unless you can speak and write at least 3-4 languages... and understand yet another 3. and that is without counting all the computer languages.

only in this context, look at this man - 17 languages.

Quinn said...

I consider myself a bit impoverished to only speak English. - Just thought I'd throw that out there before I make the next comment.

Someone once said that English has all the cultural sensitivity of a powerful vacuum cleaner. If it comes across a word it likes, it sucks it right up and no one seems notice.

For me, when I listen to someone speaking a language other than English, the sudden appearence of an "English" word, like say VCR or someone's name, shatters the rhythm of the speach. I wonder if the same happens to those who don't speak English and then hear a word from their language dropped into the middle of it.

neha said...

(i replying to your comment in three sections - i hope it makes sense.)

i dont know many languages either - i should have learnt at least one more when i studied in a school (for a couple of months) where no one spoke a word i could understand. it should have made me learn the language. i didnt and regret that now.

yeah bhojanaalya (sic) is apparently a word in english that means restaurant. it has supposedly been absorbed from hindi. only i havent heard anyone from my generation or the one before me use that word - except in the sentence above.

Mum used to hate that as well - when we would slip an english word while speaking hindi or vice versa. it is called hinglish colloquially; she said it was laziness. i wonder what would she say of my dropping the capitals in my written words. i dont like capitals - why should some words be more words than others.

Harish Suryanarayana said...

Well , the good thing is I can speak three Indian languages . The bad thing though , is that , I can read and write only one of them .

Being Indian is an attitude , a philosophy .. I do not feel it can be measured by the number of languages you know.

neha said...

well harish,
grapes are sour - you are not indian enough. tho you can mighty glad i am the person in control of the legislative.

*there are jokes and then there are some more dumb jokes*