Skip to comments.Linguistically Speaking – English Becomes India’s 'Numero-Uno' Language
Posted on 09/26/2011 12:32:44 AM PDT by nickcarraway
India has a rich linguistic history with more than 22 different national languages spoken throughout the length and breadth of the country. The 1991 census recognized 1576 mother tongues and grouped them into 114 different languages. Imagine the plight of a linguist trying to study all the languages of the country. So how does English survive in this linguistic caldroun?
Indias tryst with its own foreign language (English) dates back to the 17th Century, when Emperor Jahangir welcomed the East India Company into the country. Considered a language of the elite in the pre-independence era, English managed to gradually percolate down the complex, multilingual and multireligious Indian society after independence and reached its peak in the post liberalization period.
Languages almost have a biological existence, they are born, live, breathe, reach their youth and die too. English seems to be enjoying its youth in India, with the ubiquitous middle class of the country embracing the language as their own. It now serves as an integrating force and a link language which unites the country and provides a beacon of hope to youth.
India has more than 100 million English speakers, not taking into account others who can converse in English but are unable to read or write in English. It is a common site to find tourist guides in Agra fluently explaining the history of Taj Mahal in English to tourists from different parts of the world. If you are an international traveler on your maiden trip to India, you would be fascinated to see English, not Hindi (which is Indias official language), used along with the states regional language at the Railway Stations, Airports, on advertising billboards and all across the city.
Even the names of brands that sell in rural India are inscribed in English. Classes to teach
(Excerpt) Read more at communities.washingtontimes.com ...
Well I’d say pretty soon we will all be speaking Spanish here!
The language of the hated Colonial oppressor unifies the country.
“...Well I’d say pretty soon we will all be speaking Spanish here!”
Well, even mono-lingual Spanish speakers better get on board, because English is spreading across the world like wild fire - and its unlikely to slow down.
Just watched a funny Bollywood film, “Delhi Belly” (2011).
It was very funny and in English.
Only 100 million English speakers!
100 million seems large, but if you consider that the British have been in India since the eighteenth century and that India’s population is at least 1.1 billion, these numbers are not too impressive.
For example, the Philippines with a population of 97 million has about 90 million English speakers and Nigeria with a population of about 150 million has about 79 million English speakers.
“Well Id say pretty soon we will all be speaking Spanish”
You beat me to it.
Are you really an African Christian or a very good Chicom troll. Easily one of the best acts I have seen if it was an act ;-)
If you know anything about India, it’s extremely impressive. Sanskrit alone is older that the Greeks.
That is a VAST NUMBER.
Fur Shur, neither Sanskrit nor Greek got off the ground as written languages until the invention of writing, and that was by a non-Indo-European group that might even have Dravidian linguistic underpinnings. They are known as the Sumerians!
Maybe India will save the day. It’s one of the few ascendant nations and the only one that seems poised to rival China. With Europe determined to finish destroying itself, India might turn out to be our most reliable ally.
This trend still has a way to go, it seems. ;)
But when they phone me with the latest credit card deal it might as well be Farsi because our conversation is a farcie.
Interesting discussion - I’ve always heard that Sanskrit is a written and not a spoken language.
The Sumerian theory is fascinating. Isn’t cuneiform the earliest known form of nonideographic writing?
As for English in India, their need for a lingua franca which is also spoken worldwide, seems obvious.
I was deployed to Uzbekistan where the regime changed written Uzbek from cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, and replaced Russian in the schools with English as the second language.
In the Far East the same system can be shown to undergird much of the most ancient Chinese writing forms.
Right now it is simply the FIRST KNOWN SYSTEM and pending further discoveries, it will probably continue to be the FIRST KNOWN SYSTEM.
There are researchers who link ancient Sumerian to a now unknown Dravidian predecessor language, as well as to the Sa'ami and Hungarian languages (in part).
Both Sa'amiand Hungarian/Estonian have been overwhelmed ~ almost swamped in Suomi (Finnish) vocabulary though.
Archaeologists working in Iran have managed to uncover an ancient city that may link North Eastern India (the original Dravidian area) to Western Asia ~ this one is quite a bit older than the much more recent ruins at Mohenjo Daro. So far all this discovery does is demonstrate that migration was not a one way street with bronzed blond Aryan supermen raging East over the North Indian plains, but seems to have started with short dumpy guys with cows humping it over the Great Sind desert to Mesopotamia and beyond!
Sumerian, of course, really has its roots in the accounting necessary to keep track of cattle!
One of the great linguistical mysteries has been the origins of the Basque language. Is it starting to fit into the Dravidian sources you reference?
True about cuneiform - the oldest written document is said to be an inventory list or receipt IIRC.
English is the language of success.
One of the main refugia was located right there at the Pyranees Mountains ~ another on the Dalmatian coast and another in the Middle East.
Obviously there were others in the East.
DNA studies show clearly that Europe was repopulated after the Ice Age by people from the refugia.
One of the more intriguing things to come out of the earliest scientific studies of languages was that when folks migrate away from the core area their language remains fairly unchanged from what it was like at the time of migration. The changes take place back in the old homeland.
We have enough time here for European refugia speakers to have spread all the way from Spain to Scandinavia to India and then back, with their core language fairly unchanged ~ and all that before the first Indo-European drew his first swastika in the dirt near the campfire!
In the meantime the original language would have morphed into the Basque we've all come to know and love, which is a far different language than any of the Dravidian group, or the Fenno-Scandian group! It sure ain't Hungarian either.
I can honestly say I have never met someone from India that could not speak English, and we have a large population of Indians living here in the northwest. I have also never seen one on an episode of COPS. Now for are neighbors on our Southern border - well you know the answer on that one.
And who do you think you are? The Thought Police?
I was pointing out that the figures for India, though impressive are not that impressive if you consider that India was ruled by the British for more than 300 years. Several African nations, with much less colonial contact have a far higher proportion of English speakers.
What the data points to is that the Indian education system has a lot of work to do to make India more competitive.
If you had cared to read the finer details..... wikipedia also reports 350 million “english users” in India. It makes no such distinction in case of Phillipines and Nigeria. In case of Phillipines it says “66.7 million people aged 5 years or more could speak English” and in case of Nigeria “(79 million)Figures are for speakers of Nigerian Pidgin, an English-based pidgin or creole.”
That doesn’t answer the question. The truth is your username goes a long distance in an attempt to cast your regional and religious identity; something few others out here do. And then most of your responses are to posts on China - with a few grudging ones that concern purely of Africa. Don’t get me wrong - you do display knowledge of Africa. But as you’ll see my list of scalps below - I have gotten good at reading the ChiCom flow - and whether you are ChiCom or not, you are following that flow.
Do as you please and I don’t disagree with your comment on this thread but I am watching you :-) If you are ChiCom, you will slip up and I will be there to extract my scalp.
Okay, I’m a Chinese triple agent on a one man mission to destroy America. ;)
Okay, I’m a Chinese triple agent on a one man mission to destroy America. ;)
On a more serious note, I’m an African living in Africa. The reason why I post so much about China and know so much about China is because China is Africa’s largest trading partner and most dynamic player.
(More Africans are learning Mandarin than you’d imagine.)
Frankly speaking, I don’t know what keeps drawing me to this site, but I think it is important for Americans to understand how the rise of China affects their nation’s strategic position. I can see it clearly from where I live on the African continent.
Wikipedia defines the term “English users as...
“The distinction between the Speakers and Users is that Users only know how to read English words while Speakers know how to read English, understand spoken English as well as form their own sentences to converse in English.”
As for Indian education system, a large number of schools in India provide education in pure vernacular medium. Its not that they are uneducated. Its just that they have a stronger influence of vernacular language over English.
Wo ye hui shuo zhongwen, pengyou. Ruguo wo de diannao you zhongwen gongneng de hua, wo keyi gei ni xie hanzi.
China is India’s largest trading partner as well and a neighbour, but somehow we are not as start-struck with them as African Christians seem to be :-)
On a serious note, I agree with most of what you post especially how blind Americans seem to be to either extremes on China’s impact on the global system.
The strong Chinese influence of Africa isn’t fraught with risks as you may well know from past experiences. In the past Europe came with great promises of trade and development for Africa and we all know how Africa got burnt. In recent past China’s involvement in Darfur (Sudan) hasn’t really been a positive one. If you look at Asia, most of China’s close political allies such as (North Korea, Burma, Pakistan, Syria, Iran) are despotic hell holes amidst a sea of rising Asian economies. It would be prudent for Africa to strike a balance between long term political/economic interest and short term commercial interests.
the Southern parts of India remained speaking their non-Indo-European languages of Tamil/Malayalam/Kannada/Tulu/Andhra
the state of Goa had its state language as Portuguese since it was Portuguese even before the Taj Mahal was built (since 1510).
The North-East of India wasn't part of the Mughal Empire and spoke its non-European languages (belonging to the Tai or Tibeto-Burmese language families).
english is spreading across the world as it is a simple language to use. Spanish is relatively simple too, though not as simple as English. however English is getting increasingly unwieldy and is already splitting into various “dialects” — for instance if an Englishman told you that he was too knackered to snog his wife, you’d be puzzled — and it gets worse with Franglish, Spanglish, Hinglish, Chiglish etc.
To my mind, ever since blam told me about that, it seems so plausible, I'm just waiting for more archaeological proof. I already consider it true but not completely proven.
true, you’ve pointed out some of the differences between American English and British English. Of course there is also a difference between the British English of today and the British English of the Victorian/Edwardian era, which is what Indians learn!
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