Sunday, 16 September 2007
Entry from backside only

I was going to post about this later today, but I decided to prepone the pleasure. I hope my below envelopes you in out-freakery. From The Telegraph (h/t Alan):

Young and educated Indians regard the desire to speak English as it is spoken in England as a silly hang-up from a bygone era. Homegrown idiosyncrasies have worked their way into the mainstream to such an extent that only fanatical purists question their usage.

Now Penguin, the quintessentially British publishing house, has put the nearest thing to an official imprimatur on the result by producing a collection of some of the most colourful phrases in use - in effect a dictionary of what might be called "Indlish".

Its title, Entry From Backside Only, refers to a phrase commonly used on signposts to indicate the rear entrance of a building. Binoo John, the author, said young Indians had embraced the variant of the language as a charming offspring of the mingling of English and Hindi, rather than an embarrassing mongrel.

"Economic prosperity has changed attitudes towards Indian English," said Mr John. "Having jobs and incomes, and being noticed by the rest of the world, have made Indians confident - and the same confidence has attached itself to their English."

The 50-year-old journalist said he was inspired by the success of Lynn Truss's guide to punctuation, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, and by years of reading newspaper reports of politicians "air-dashing" to a destination, "issueless" couples (those without children) and people "preponing" (bringing forward) meetings.

But such phrases are entrenched. A driver, when asked what he does, may refer to his occupation as "drivery". He keeps his "stepney" (spare tyre) in the "dicky" (boot).

Housemaids on their way to buy vegetables tell their employers they are going "marketing". Receptionists ask callers, "What is your good name?" before informing them that the boss has gone "out of station" (out of town) with his "cousin-brother" (male cousin). A government official urged farmers in Rajasthan to grow "herbs in their backsides" (backyards).

"Not in my backside" would make an excellent, all-purpose protest slogan. I wonder if Indians have barbecues in their backsides, or is that just how you feel after a particularly strong curry?

As in Britain, employers complain that the standard of English is so abysmal that recruits cannot write a sentence without three grammatical mistakes. One call centre executive in Bombay said a new recruit wrote an email that began: "I am in well here and hope you are also in the same well."

 Here is some useful Hinglish or Indlish:

Dear sir, with reference to your above see my below - popular opening line in official letters.

Teachress - a female teacher.

Timepass - a trivial activity that passes the time.

She freaked out last night - she had a good time.

Your lyrical missive has enveloped me in the sweet fragrance of our love - from a book advising lovers on how to write to girlfriends.

How often do you take sex? - question from doctor to patient.

Pritam Singh has left for his heavenly above - a death notice.

Hue and Cry notice - title of police missing person newspaper advertisement.

Don't do nuisance in public - government admonition against urinating in public 

Posted on 09/16/2007 6:23 AM by Mary Jackson
16 Sep 2007
Hugh Fitzgerald

Pre-positioning in Indian English -- "preponing" -- is nothing new. The cover of my tattered copy of the "Universal Self Hindi Teacher" bears a blurb ("India's President Recommends This Book"):

"I do hope it will be quite useful for English knowing people who wish to learn Hindi."

                                     Sd. S. Radhakrishnan

I bought the book because of that blurb.

16 Sep 2007
Send an emailMary Jackson
I like your above.

16 Sep 2007
It's transposing the logic and syntax and rhythms and phrase formation of Indian languages to English!

16 Sep 2007
Send an emailsriram
he author Binoo John has clearly made a mockery of Indians and India by generalising the way English is spoken in India.I totally agree with all the "quotes" and "Examples" of the way English is spoken about in India.But does he mean to say that is how english spoken by every other Indian? If that is what he includes him too.I gather he is from Kerala,where "literacy" is 100%(Heaven knows what they mean by 100%).In Kerala Gulf is pronounced as GELF,Office is OOFICE OR HOFFICE and the word Exactly is pronounced as EGGSACTLY..and so it ok for him if i generalise?Will Binoo John Admit that Keralites speak English like this,If he does..Hats off to him,If not you better retract your quotes and statements and/or stick to specifics.Don't generalise.I was saddened as an Indian living in NZ to read an horrendous article like this in a NZ paper.Last but not the least..I am not a fanatic or a blind supporter of India or Indians.The way Binoo John has projected India or Indians just does adds up.

16 Sep 2007
Send an emailSriram

Correction :Please read the last line of my previous blog letter as "The way Binoo John has projected India or Indians just does NOT adds up."

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