I am sure many of you reading this article have never heard or come across this term before. Well, this is a word used a lot in India, especially by educators, teachers and trainers and people like me to refer to the Indian way of communicating in English.
Here are a few examples of Indianisms:
- What’s your good name?
Meant: What’s your name? – transliteration from Hindi.
- I’m a professional cooker.
Meaning a chef. The explanation for this is when you can say footballer, singer, lecturer, cricketer, player, teacher: all these profession names end with an “-er” why can’t we say cooker?!
- My uncle is on top of my father
Meant: My uncle lives on the floor above us.
- Where are you put up?
Someone who wants to know where do you stay (in which area of a city).
- Sheela herself only did this project.
Meant: Sheela did this project without any help. / Sheela did this project all by herself.
- Where your house comes ?
Meant: Can you give me directions to your house?
- I passed out last year from college.
Meant: I graduated last year from college.
- Are you coming to my house for dinner tonight, no?
A tendency to add “no” before the end of every question.
- She is fully tired, ya!
Meant: She is very tired or completely tired: unnecessary usage of “ya” which is different from “yeah”.
- My mother said me to go to the market.
Meant: My mother asked me to go to the market.
- I didn’t went to school today.
Incorrect verb conjugation: I didn’t go to school today.
- Just like only I went to my uncle’s place.
Meant: I went to my uncle’s house for the heck of it.
- I’m having a lot of work now.
Meant: I have a lot of work now.
- I saw it happening with my own two eyes!
Meant: It happened right in front of me.
- Yesterday, I will be going for a movie.
Meant: Yesterday I went for a movie; incorrect tense usage.
- She couldn’t be able to help you.
Meant: She was unable to help you; incorrect verb conjugation.
- I like listening musics.
Meant: I like to listen to music. Preposition “to” dropped, and “music” does not have a plural form.
- My mother made me to study hard.
Meant: My mother ensured that I studied hard.
- Before me, there are two brothers, then is me, three more sisters are coming.
What was meant was: I have two elder brothers and three younger sisters.
Let us try and understand why many people in India communicate like this.
The reasons are pretty simple:
- Lack of exposure to the English language as many people take English as their third language in school and are interested only in passing the subject.
- Lack of opportunity to practice speaking and writing in English: people prefer to stay in their comfort zone and communicate with others who speak their mother tongue.
- A tendency to think in their mother tongue and translate it into English. This is known as transliteration.
- Lack of confidence – unable to speak at length in English because they are worried that they will make errors.
At the same time, I would also like to add that there are millions of Indians who communicate effectively and beautifully in English and could give their Western counterparts a run for their money!
Will things change for the better? Of course, it will as communicating well in English is becoming a pre-requisite for many customer service oriented jobs in various industries in India. It has become a universal language to communicate. This will ensure that people take English more seriously and “not with a pinch of salt”!