English In India: A Brief Analysis

As the title reflects, this post is going to deal with the condition and development of English in India since its arrival in the subcontinent. It has undergone so many changes as the generations kept changing. That we read in the English literature of those times is so very much different from what we write or speak today. As far as India is concerned, English has become easier for us now, as slowly, but steadily, it has established a bonding with the native Indian languages by inheriting their words, thus making its speakers more comfortable with it. Eventually, it has become a global language or international language as they say it. In this light of the worldwide exposure and use of English, we are to understand the ups and downs it had to face to attain the position it holds today.

English is indeed a beautiful language in its essence but linguistically it is not to be considered a very good one. The problem lies in its alphabetical order, fewer sounds, poor phonological concepts, lack of tenses (forms of a verb), unnecessary tongue-twisting mechanisms of pronunciation, unparallel pronunciations and having very less of its own content. All in all, it turns out to be a language which is basically made up of exceptions in itself. I take them up one by one. Firstly, it does not have a properly arranged set of alphabets which is like a denture for every language. Therefore it makes it tough to laugh open and out in English in non-English speaker countries. Secondly, it has insufficient sounds and the letters that are required to produce them, adding to make it unnecessarily complicated. Thirdly, it does not deal with the spellings and phonetics in a smooth manner as there are very many exceptions which I need not mention here as examples. Fourthly, sounds are not pronounced uniformly in different spellings of the same order and structure. Fifthly, there are lesser forms of verbs available making sentences bulkier. Sixthly, the unnecessary tongue-twisting mechanism in the pronunciation of the native speakers is a significant cause of deterioration of English. One can argue that this is what beautifies English. That is true. But when this language crossed the boundaries of the United Kingdom, it had to be mingled with the regional dictions as they were not the native speakers and in this particular aspect English is not so flexible to have those provisions in its linguistic definitive sets that without getting its beauty damaged, it could digest those regional accents. So for this very reason, the kernel of English has been ruined for several hundred years. Seventhly, it has inadequate original content. A considerable part of English vocabulary is inherited from other languages such as Latin and Greek. French, German and Spanish words are also found in the dictionaries. Even Hindi and Urdu have successfully and unavoidably penetrated into them to mark their symbolic presence as the non-native speakers’ languages who, now, have started using English in their respective routine lives.

Some of the above-stated reasons need to be explained. A language does never spread with its grammar and phonetics only. It travels along with its speakers who carry their origins, cultures, lifestyles, histories and fashion statements with them. Therefore, in the context of English here, we can notice that English speakers are better pretenders. The poverty of the first kind mentioned above tries to veil its face behind highly pretentious body language of the speakers and it clarifies the sixth kind of poverty also. Unnecessary tongue-twisting points out to the superiority complex of the British which is well known to the world in the form of Anglo-French wars for the monarchy of England had a tendency to impose itself over its surroundings and what could be a better tool than a language for this purpose. This is why Scottish people do not like the Queen’s Language. So for the British, English acted as a disguised weapon and they unknowingly made use of it to present them as the most tactful managers.

The seventh point also needs an explanation as it can be misinterpreted. Accepting words from other languages is mandatory in a language’s journey along the forward-only periphery of time. And, it is good to adapt the words accordingly. If a language is too viscous, it stands still. It cannot move any further. It must be mobile enough to survive as society changes with time. It must meet the demands of the region in which it is to be spoken, hence allowing the alien words in its own domain and getting mingled with that peculiar tonal quality of the specific region. Here, English has performed appreciably well. But simultaneously, it is having a deep routed problem related to its origin. It gives a sense of a derived language. Sometimes it is felt that it is a combination of deformed (or modified) Greek and Latin. The same relates again to the very first issue discussed above, that explains the denture-thing. Thus here, this point makes it clear that its foundation was too weak to sustain itself. The only reason for its widespread is the supremacy of the British during the imperial era.

Now comes the point of influence of mother tongues or regional languages. One of the most unscientific languages of the world must face and tolerate this in order to get more unscientific as this is the very essence this language has been carrying all through its voyages from Yorkshire to New York, from Wales to New South Wales and most importantly from the banks of the Thames to the delta of the Ganga which inevitably affected the content it brought as there has been more amount of the intellect needed to interpret the knowledge in the Indian nation ever since. So it was resisted here. Eventually, due to the collective effects of the imperialism, it was accepted; resistance still kept on. The tragedy of English today is that it is undergoing a phase which a language does when it contaminates some other language, and through the contact between the two for this, the process essentially gets reciprocated. It just goes this way. We can never figure out a perfect point on the timeline for when these changes occurred. Thus, for this very reason, English is facing almost the same problems around the globe and it will have to all though.

One more point which is not to be missed here is that some people suggest standardize spoken English to prevent its deformation from region to region. But the spoken form of any language is not to be standardized. In fact, it should and could never be as it is through this form that a language keeps developing accordingly. In linguistic terms imported words do not work for long. In order to work and grow they need to be localized. It makes a language wealthier, provided it does not threaten the originality of the language. It is a fast process which acts as a catalyst for the same in the written form which is comparatively slow. If this law is not followed, a language dies as it happened for many thousand languages of the African continent.

Semantically and syntactically, it is undoubtedly a  wonderful language which attracts one and makes one enjoy its beauty. English knows how to develop different tastes as the time change, thus making itself more conciliatory and pliable to help itself grow and spread faster. Indians, being the appreciators of the content, welcomed one more alien language as that of their very own.

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