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
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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.
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