English in India and Pakistan

Term Paper, 2008

19 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. History and development of the English language in India and Pakistan
2.1. English before and during colonialism
2.2. English in India after the Independence
2.3. English in India in the present
2.4. The Future of the English language in India
2.5. The linguistic situation in newly created Pakistan

3. Indian English
3.1. Morphology, lexis and syntax
3.2. Phonology

4. Pakistani English
4.1. Morphology, lexis and syntax
4.2. Phonology

5. Summary

6. Bibliography

7. Appendix

1. Introduction

About 1.25 billion people are living in India and Pakistan today which is about 18% of the world´s population, whereas the Indian subcontinent only makes about 3% of the available Landmass of our planet. (cf. Stang, 2002, 80 ff.) The Indian Government has enormous problems concerning administration, not only because of the size of the country and the mass of people living in India, but also because of the amount of different dialects, varieties and languages. The Indian Government states that there are 18 officially acknowledged languages in India. An overview of the language Situation can be seen on chart I in the appendix. The constitution though is written in English, which does not occur in that enumeration, not even in the table of the other 96 non scheduled languages of the Indian Census 1991. “cf. www.languageinindia.com/nov2001/1991Languages.html (March 25, 2008)” The language of the former colonizer, English, is the only common language to the different groups in India and therefore an important tool concerning administration, court, trade and daily life. Almost the same situation can be observed in Pakistan, where the dispute about languages in 1971 even led to a civil war and the foundation of Bangladesh. “cf. www.bpb.de/themen/4OJUFG,0,Die_Teilung_BritischIndiens_1947.html (March 22, 2008)“

The focus of that work will therefore be on the development and state just as on the analysis of syntax and morphology of the English language in India and Pakistan. My research will largely be based on the works of as Raja Ram Mehrotra, Baraj B. Kachru, R.K. Agnihotria and A.L. Khanna, as well as Benrd Kotmann and Robert J. Baumgardner.

2. History and development of the English language in India

2.1. English before and during colonialism

The development of the English language in India has to be split up in 3 parts. The first part deals with the situation between 1579 and 1834 in which four major European languages came to India due to the beginning of the trading relationship. Those four languages were English, French, Dutch and Portuguese. English came with Thomas Stephens who made British merchants to “take business expeditions to India”. (Mehrotra, 1998, 3) On 31st December the East India Company made a big step by monopolizing the trade to introduce the English language to the Indian subcontinent. The East India Company had a strong need in interpreters to simplify transactions between the English merchants and the innate people. Furthermore were army and Christianization responsible for the spread of the language. Whenever Indians joined the British army they had to learn English especially in terms of military vocabulary, which was the same with believers that wanted to read the Bible or say their prayers. (cf. Viereck, 2002, 209) After the battle of Plassey and the resulting English supremacy over India, the growth of importance and influence of the English language was enormous. English teaching schools were built in an around big cities like Bombay, Calcutta or Madras. During that time the English language more and more got accepted as a way to learn modern sciences and to acquire knowledge from the western world. (cf. Mehrotra, 1998, 3 f.)

The next part scheduled from 1834 to 1947 starts with the famous saying by Thomas Babington Macaulay which says that there was need of “a class of persons, Indian in blood and mind, but English in taste, in morals and intellect” (Babington T. in Mehrotra, 1998, 4) that opened the gates for the admission of the English language at the British-Indian Universities in India and schools as means of education. (cf. Mehrotra, 1998, 4) Thereby English became the official language of the Government and a lingua franca between the different Indian districts, which did not speak the same dialect or even language. At that time three various types of English emerged between the Indian groups of society. The higher and better educated social community spoke the so called Sahib variety, the language of the middle class was called Babu English, and the lowest social group spoke what now is designated Butler or Pidgin English (Mehrotra, 1998, 5). A very special characteristic feature from that time was the borrowing of lots of Indian words and manifest them in English. That was what mainly happened when certain Indian words or actions could not be translated satisfyingly enough into English. Today we still use these words and mainly even do not known that they actually derive from Indian like bamboo, curry or veranda. Some words though were adopted because of their pleasant sound (cf. Mehrotra, 1998, 5). During that period the Indian English was very strongly influenced by Northern British dialects whereas short before and after the Independence the importance and the influence of R.P. grew.

2.2. English in India after the Independence

The third and last part was introduced marked by the Indian independence and division of India and Pakistan which has to be regarded completely on its own. After the independence in 1947 which was guided by Mahatma Gandhi, who always said that “Real education is impossible through a foreign medium.” (Mehrotra, 1998, 5) and ironically was educated in Britain at the University College London, the influence of English decreased in favor of vernaculars with the broad mass of people, but not with the higher educated. Neither did English decrease in terms of administration, simply because most if the people in certain positions still were dependant to English in terms of communication all over India. The problem about English after the independence was that it has been “Janus-like, looking in two opposite directions at the same time” (Mehrotra, 1998, 6). On the one hand it of course was a steady reminder of suppression and slavery, on the other hand was it as already mentioned a necessary evil for educational and administrative reasons. In 1961 though a first solution was found by introducing three languages as compulsory in schools, namely Hindi, English and the regional language. The problem about that was that even though Hindi is the variety most people speak in India, all the other varieties together make an even bigger number and therefore felt neglected.

2.3. English in India in the present

The present situation for the English language in India still does not look as gloomy, as it was predicted and intended by the Indian Constitution which said that,

“The English Language shall continue to be used for a period of 15 years from the commencement of this Constitution for all official purposes of the Union for which it was immediately before such commencement.” (Mehrotra, 1998, 6)

Even though nationwide English no longer is the medium of education and instruction, it is compulsory in most of the parts of India at any stage. In some parts however it is an optional subject which is chosen as a second language very often, especially in non Hindi areas. (cf. Mehrotra, 1998, 7) In addition English still is the dominating language “in all the Indian institutes of technology, institutes of medical sciences and all the university faculties of engineering” (Mehrotra, 1998, 8). Beside the educational part, English still plays an important role concerning public affairs like the Parliament, courts, banking, trading and commerce, and media. “According to a UNESCO report, India ranks third, after the U.S.A. and U.K., in the production of English titles.” (Mehrotra, 1998, 9) in 2008 the Man Booker Prize will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Within its history three Indian writers, Salman Rushdie in 1981, Arundhati Roy in 1997 and Kiram Dasai in 2006, won that prize, whereas with the same period not a single writer from the United States ever won that prize. “cf. www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/archive (March 23, 2008)”


Excerpt out of 19 pages


English in India and Pakistan
LMU Munich  (Anglistik)
Varieties of English
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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1197 KB
India, Pakistan, Variety, Phonetics, Pronunciation, Libguistics, Phonology, Spelling
Quote paper
Martin Steger (Author), 2008, English in India and Pakistan, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/201147


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