LinguEast: Indian English – Indian Influences

One of the main characteristics of Indian English is the use of native expressions. While Indians may use Hindi, Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu, Malayalam and other words because they don’t remember/don’t want to use the English ones/for stylistic reasons, more often, they will simply talk about unique things that English has no words for.


a) Angrezi is a Hindi word for English

b) Chappals are slippers used outdoors.

c) Diwali is a festival of light.

d) Purdah, a Hindi word for a veil/curtain, is the manifold practice of preventing men from seeing women by means of segregation and concealment.

e) Wallah is a Hindi word for a tradesman: doodhwallah is the milkman (doodh = milk), chaiwallah sells chai (tea) and dhobiwallah washes clothes.

One of the important processes that speakers of mainstream English have always followed is to adapt foreign expressions on the spot or give them English versions and adapt them then, letting them enter mainstream English dictionaries and stay there, as a part of the general richness of the language.

Let us have a few examples.

a) English words of Hindi origin:

bazaar (from bāzār, marketplace), pajama (from Payjamo, a kind of trousers), shampoo (from champu, scalp massage)

b) English words of Tamil origin

curry (from kari, sauce), pariah (from paraiyar)

c) English words of Sanskrit origin

Aryan (from Arya-s, noble, honourable), avatar (from avatarana, descent), Himalaya (from himalayah, place of snow), musk (from musk-a, testicle)

d) English words of Urdu origin

bungalow (from banglA, (house) in the Bengal style)

But the most important feature of Indian English is its creativeness: Indians no longer rely on expressions handed down to them from major Englishes, they go and coin their own English expressions from English material instead. More about the attractive outcomes next time.


One response to “LinguEast: Indian English – Indian Influences

  • LinguEast: Indian English « moosings

    […] Next time, we will take a closer look at some examples and sources of hybridisation. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 at 08:00 and posted in WORDS IN EDGEWAYS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « LinguEast: Romanian […]

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