Breakfast Babble: ED’s own little space on the inter-webs where we gather to discuss ideas and get pumped up for the day. We judge things too. Sometimes. Always. Whatever, call it catharsis and join in people.
In a recent conversation with a friend, the topic of “English accents” popped up. We tried to figure out what kind of accents we had and I firmly concluded that I have a pure Indian accent. He vehemently denied it and I was glad he did. I told him so too.
Now here’s the question he asked that got me feeling like a hypocritical jerk.
“What makes you think that’s a compliment?”
Gasp! Now it seems like I had this derogatory notion about Indian English ingrained in me, and I never knew it! I was that kid in school who told people off for picking on those who had Indianized accents but, in reality, I don’t like being associated with it either?
When did this happen?
The whole problem roots from associating ‘Indian’ English with ‘incorrect’ English.
Indian English has an elaborate linguistic background influenced by its colonial exposure to British English, its modern acquaintance with American English and the Indic languages of the regions in which it is spoken.
These influences did not evolve it into an incorrect form of the language. Instead, it is now a rich, complex and, above all, personalized variety of a foreign tongue.
Think about it – we took a language that was once used to divide us and made it yield to meet our requirements.
What makes it even more customized? The fact that there is no singular standard for the umbrella term ‘Indian English’. Every region brings in their own inflexions, according to the peculiarities of their mother tongues.
We pride ourselves on being accommodating and it shows in the sole foreign language we’ve adopted as our own. We’ve tried to squeeze it into our culture and we’ve adorned it with Indian ornaments so that it doesn’t feel out of place – like a foreigner in an Indian garb.
At the end of the day, Indian English is something we should not shy away from being associated with, and most definitely not mock others about. Instead, embrace it as that dear friend who gave up drinking earl grey tea, just so he could enjoy chai-time with you.
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