Indian English

Indian English (IE) is a class of varieties of the English language spoken in India, and among the Indian diaspora elsewhere in the world.[4] English is used by the Indian government for communication along with Hindi, as enshrined in the Constitution.[5] English is an official language of 7 states and 5 Union Territories and also additional an official language of 7 states and 1 Union Territory. English is also the sole official language of the Judiciary of India, unless a state governor or legislature mandates the use of a regional language, or the president has given approval for the use of regional languages in courts.[6]

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, English remained an official language of the new Dominion of India and later the Republic of India. Only a few hundred thousand Indians, or less than 0.1% of the total population, spoke English as their first language.[7][8][9][10]

According to the 2001 Census, 12.18% of Indians knew English at that time. Of those, approximately 200,000 reported that it was their first language, 86 million reported that it was their second, and 39 million reported that it was their third.[11]

According to the 2005 India Human Development Survey,[12] of 41,554 surveyed, households reported that 72% of men (29,918) spoke no English, 28% of them (11,635) spoke at least some English, and 5% of them (2,077, roughly 17.9% of those who spoke at least some English) spoke fluent English. Among women, 83% (34,489) spoke no English, 17% (7,064) spoke at least some English, and 3% (1,246, roughly 17.6% of those who spoke at least some English) spoke English fluently.[13] According to statistics of District Information System for Education (DISE) of under Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, enrollment in English-medium schools increased by 50% between 2008–09 and 2013–14. The number of English-medium school students in India increased from over 15 million in 2008–09 to 29 million by 2013–14.[14]

According to the 2011 Census, 129 million (10.6%) Indians spoke English. 259,678 (0.02%) Indians spoke English as their first language.[1] It concluded that approximately 83 million Indians (6.8%) reported English as their second language, and 46 million (3.8%) reported it as their third language, making English the second-most spoken language in India.[2]

India ranks 50 out of 100 countries in the 2021 EF English Proficiency Index published by the EF Education First. The index gives the country a score of 496 indicating "low proficiency". India ranks 8th out of 24 Asian countries included in the index.[15] Among Asian countries, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Hong Kong, China and Macau received higher scores than India.

The journalist Manu Joseph wrote in a The New York Times article that, due to the prominence and usage of the language and the desire for English-language education, "English is the de facto national language of India. It is a bitter truth."[16] In his book, In Search of Indian English: History, Politics and Indigenisation, Ranjan Kumar Auddy shows that the history of the rise of Indian nationalism and the history of the emergence of Indian English are deeply inter-related.

Under the Indian Constitution, English is the language of India’s Supreme Court and of all the high courts of India.[6] However, as allowed by the Constitution, Hindi is also used in courts in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan by virtue of special presidential approval.[17] As of 2018, the high courts of the Punjab and the Haryana were also awaiting presidential approval to use Hindi alongside English.[18]

The first occurrence of the term Indian English dates from 1696,[19] though the term did not become common until the 19th century. In the colonial era, the most common terms in use were Anglo-Indian English, or simply Anglo-Indian, both dating from 1860. Other less common terms in use were Indo-Anglian (dating from 1897) and Indo-English (1912).[20] An item of Anglo-Indian English was known as an Anglo-Indianism from 1851.[20]

In the modern era, a range of colloquial portmanteau words for Indian English have been used. The earliest of these is Indlish (recorded from 1962), and others include Indiglish (1974), Indenglish (1979), Indglish (1984), Indish (1984), Inglish (1985) and Indianlish (2007).[21]

Indian English generally uses the Indian numbering system. Idiomatic forms derived from Indian literary languages and vernaculars have been absorbed into Indian English. Nevertheless, there remains general homogeneity in phonetics, vocabulary, and phraseology between various dialects of Indian English.[22][23][24][25]

Formal written publications in English in India tend to use lakh/crore for Indian currency and Western numbering for foreign currencies like Dollars and Pounds.[26]

The English language established a foothold in India with the granting of the East India Company charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 and the subsequent establishment of trading ports in coastal cities such as Surat, Bombay (called Mumbai since 1995), Madras (called Chennai since 1996), and Calcutta (called Kolkata since 2001).

English-language public instruction began in India in the 1830s during the rule of the British East India Company (India was then, and is today, one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world[27]). In 1835, English replaced Persian as the official language of the East India Company. Lord Macaulay played a major role in introducing English and Western concepts into educational institutions in India. He supported the replacement of Persian by English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction in all schools, and the training of English-speaking Indians as teachers.[28] Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, primary, middle, and high schools were opened in many districts of British India, with most high schools offering English language instruction in some subjects. In 1857, just before the end of East India Company rule, universities that were modeled on the University of London and used English as the medium of instruction were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. During the British Raj (1858 to 1947), English-language penetration increased throughout India. This was driven in part by the gradually increasing hiring of Indians in the civil services. At the time of India's independence in 1947, English was the only functional lingua franca in the country.

After Indian Independence in 1947, Hindi was declared the first official language, and attempts were made to declare Hindi the sole national language of India. Due to protests from Tamil Nadu and other non-Hindi-speaking states, it was decided to temporarily retain English for official purposes until at least 1965. By the end of this period, however, opposition from non-Hindi states was still too strong to have Hindi declared the sole language. With this in mind, the English Language Amendment Bill declared English to be an associate language "until such time as all non-Hindi States had agreed to its being dropped."[29] This has not yet occurred, and English is still widely used. For instance, it is the only reliable means of day-to-day communication between the central government and the non-Hindi states.

The view of the English language among many Indians has changed over time. It used to be associated primarily with colonialism; it is now primarily associated with economic progress, and English continues to be an official language of India.[30]

While there is an assumption that English is readily available in India, studies show that its usage is actually restricted to the elite,[31] because of inadequate education to large parts of the Indian population. The use of outdated teaching methods and the poor grasp of English exhibited by the authors of many guidebooks disadvantage students who rely on these books, giving India only a moderate proficiency in English.[32]

In addition, many features of Indian English were imported into Bhutan due to the dominance of Indian-style education and teachers in the country after it withdrew from its isolation in the 1960s.[33][34]

The term Hinglish is a portmanteau of the languages English and Hindi. This typically refers to the macaronic hybrid use of Hindi and English. It is often the growing preferred language of the urban and semi-urban educated Indian youth, as well as the Indian diaspora abroad.[35] The Hindi film industry, more popularly known as Bollywood, incorporates considerable amounts of Hinglish as well.[36] Many internet platforms and voice commands on Google also recognise Hinglish.[35]

Other macaronic hybrids such as Manglish (Malayalam and English), Kanglish (Kannada and English), Tenglish (Telugu and English), and Tanglish or Tamglish (Tamil and English) exist in South India.[37]

In general, Indian English has fewer peculiarities in its vowel sounds than the consonants, especially as spoken by native speakers of languages like Hindi, the vowel phoneme system having some similarities with that of English. Among the distinctive features of the vowel-sounds employed by some Indian English speakers:

The following are some variations in Indian English resulting from not distinguishing a few vowels:

The following are the characteristics of dialect of Indian English most similar to RP:

The following are the variations in Indian English that are often discouraged:[by whom?]

A number of distinctive features of Indian English are due to "the vagaries of English spelling".[45] Most Indian languages, unlike English, have a nearly phonetic spelling, so the spelling of a word is a highly reliable guide to its modern pronunciation. Indians' tendency to pronounce English phonetically as well can cause divergence from British English. This phenomenon is known as spelling pronunciation.

English is a stress-timed language. Both syllable stress and word stress (where only certain words in a sentence or phrase are stressed) are important features of Received Pronunciation. Indian native languages are actually syllable-timed languages, like French. Indian-English speakers usually speak with a syllabic rhythm.[52] Further, in some Indian languages, stress is associated with a low pitch,[53] whereas in most English dialects, stressed syllables are generally pronounced with a higher pitch. Thus, when some Indian speakers speak, they appear to put the stress accents at the wrong syllables, or accentuate all the syllables of a long English word. Certain Indian accents possess a "sing-song" quality, a feature seen in a few English dialects of Britain, such as Scouse and Welsh English.[54]

The Indian numbering system is preferred for digit grouping.[55] When written in words, or when spoken, numbers less than 100,000/100 000 are expressed just as they are in Standard English. Numbers including and beyond 100,000/100 000 are expressed in a subset of the Indian numbering system. Thus, the following scale is used:

Larger numbers are generally expressed as multiples of the above (for example, one lakh crores for one trillion).[56][57]

Indian English includes many political, sociological, and administrative terms, such as dharna, hartal, eve-teasing, vote bank, swaraj, swadeshi, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, and NRI. It incorporates some Anglo-Indian words such as tiffin, hill station, gymkhana, along with slang.[58][59]

Some examples of words and phrases unique to, or chiefly used in, standard written Indian English include:

The most famous dictionary of Indian English is Yule and Brunell's Hobson-Jobson, originally published in 1886 with an expanded edition edited by William Crooke in 1903, widely available in reprint since the 1960s.

Numerous other dictionaries ostensibly covering Indian English, though for the most part being merely collections of administratively-useful words from local languages, include (chronologically): Rousseau A Dictionary of Words used in the East Indies (1804), Wilkins Glossary to the Fifth Report (1813), Stocqueler The Oriental Interpreter and Treasury of East Indian Knowledge (1844), Elliot A Supplement to the Glossary of Indian Terms: A-J (1845), Brown The Zillah Dictionary in the Roman Character (1852), Carnegy Kutcherry Technicalities (1853) and its second edition Kachahri Technicalities (1877), Wilson Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms (1855), Giles A Glossary of Reference, on Subjects connected with the Far East (1878), Whitworth Anglo-Indian Dictionary (1885), Temple (1897), and Crooke (1906).

A Glossary of Indian Terms relating to Religion, Customs, Government, LandThings India: Being Discursive Notes on Various Subjects connected with India

The first dictionary of Indian English to be published after independence was Hawkins Common Indian Words in English (1984). Other efforts include (chronologically): Lewis Sahibs, Nabobs and Boxwallahs (1991), Muthiah Words in Indian English (1991), Sengupta's Indian English supplement to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (1996) and Hankin Hanklyn-Janklin (2003). Nihalani et al. Indian and British English: A Handbook of Usage and Pronunciation (2004) delineates how Indian English differs from British English for a large number of specific lexical items. The Macmillan publishing company also produced a range of synchronic general dictionaries for the Indian market, such as the Macmillan Comprehensive Dictionary (2006).

The most recent and comprehensive dictionary is Carls (2017).

A Dictionary of Indian English, with a Supplement on Word-formation Patterns