Indian English or English in India - Indian Humour

Indian English as it is today

Indian English or English spoken in India has evolved in its own right. It no longer resembles the British English that India had learnt from the British colonial regime. The British had moved forward discarding some of those words and phrases that Indians still hold on to. Globalisation has forced India to look the American way and pick some of the American lingo – survival skills, if you need to know. Our bread is butter on that side, with IT enabled industry out-sourcing its work to the Indian shores. Now Names like 'Shalini' have become Sally and 'Sandhya' have become Sandy, so that the American tongue is not twisted more than it should be. To survive, we have ‘neutered’ our accents. India has three thousand plus languages of which 29 are widely spoken. Each region not only has a language, but many dialects as well. This causes one cauldron (caldron) of spices and flavours to be blended and mixed into the English language.Yet, the average Indian braves it all to learn and speak the Queen’s language.

I honestly do not know what is sold here.. take a guess!
I honestly do not know what is sold here.. take a guess! | Source

The evolving of a language - The Indian English Language

There is bound to be a little flavouring of the Indian curry and the little smacking of the hot chili pepper, in the language that is spoken. In the past it was the language of the elite, today the average Indian speaks the English language, if not fluently, at least enough to survive in the big wide world or the www if you care to know. Learning to speak English fluently conjures up pictures of a good job and opportunities for moving up the ladder, in their career. So today, every Indian strives to perfect the English language. In the process, a lot of humour is birthed. This is because, most Indians are applying the rules of grammar in the vernacular while translating it into English, without understanding that the same rules do not apply here. I want to highlight some of the bloomers that crop up while Indians try to do a mental processing in some Indian language and produce results in the English language.

Indian Humor - Birthed Through English in India

It is reported that a government official was speaking to some farmers in Rajasthan exhorting them to grow their own herbs and vegetables. He said, “grow herbs in your own backsides”. The unfortunate man hardly realised that, though backside would have been acceptable in the vernacular, it is rather absurd or even obnoxious to those who do not know the origins of such bloomers. Did you notice that I said 'bloomer' instead of embarrassing mistake, a relic of the past.

While at a bakers the other day, there was this rather rustic looking man who came and ordered some “yess pups”. Well, if you do not know what that means - let me explain that to you. These are no special kind of pups, but the ignorant man was trying to say “egg puffs” (a flaky pastry with spicy egg in it) which because of his native accent, turned into “yess pups”.

Almost every housewife tells the husband “I am going marketing”, no, no she is not talking about internet marketing or door to door sales, on the other hand she is telling her husband that she is going to the grocer to get some groceries. In the newspaper a few days ago, there is this small announcement that said “Kaushik Singh left for his heavenly above”.

Indigenous English
Indigenous English | Source
The scamster English - Great offer !!
The scamster English - Great offer !!

Indigenous rules for spoken English

The Indians are ingenious at making new rules and establishing the language. Here is one such ingenoius grammar rule for Indian English add “no” to a statement to make it a question as in “it is deadly hot, no?”

We also add 'only' to a statement to make it persuasive as in, ‘I stay here, only’. So remember what only means.

We add ‘ly’ to most of the nouns to make it an adjective, in the process we may end up with turning the phrase on its head – as in awesomely, study hard - becomes studying hardly, conveying the exact opposite meaning.

As the English language does not have a feminine gender for the word “teacher”, Indians have decided to set things right by adding the word “teachress”, though not prevalent, you do get to hear it sometimes.

This word 'freaking out', a part of the American legacy is used by Indians to mean just the opposite. When a college student says s/he is freaking out it means s/he is having fun.

We always ‘pass out’ of college and schools. No we do not faint or flounder, we graduate from school or college is all we mean to say.

If someone asks you where are you put up? Just tell them where you live. That is what they want to know.

Go figure!!!
Go figure!!! | Source

The formal Indian English

Applying for leave is another very formal affair. They are traps that can get you into more problems than you first started out with. Here are more 'Bloomers'.

A man applying for half day’s leave says “Since I am going to the crematorium and not coming back, kindly grant me half day’s leave”. Another leave application says “Please grand me 2 days’ leave as I am going to native (place) to sell property with wife”. Yet another says, “As I want to shave my son’s head, please leave me for 2 days”. Shaving Head is a religious ritual, done very solemnly.

Official letters like leave letters (of absence) can be tricky, here are some sample for your perusal, read on with caution...

On a covering note: "I am enclosed herewith..." Another official letter "Dear Sir: with reference to the above, please refer to my below..."

Indians over use the word ‘kindly, being a part of their culture to be polite and respectful, they have been trained to be extremely polite which results in such heights of politeness as ‘please kindly reply’. We also have this propensity to use bombastic (pun intended) words and be a bit verbose. Here is a University bloomer to prove my point. On an approved PhD thesis: 'I consider it to be my primordial obligation to humbly offer my deepest sense of gratitude to my most revered Garuji and untiring and illustrious guide professor . . . for the magnitude of his benevolence and eternal guidance.' The person now is Dr.Malaprop I guess..

Everyday Indian English

A physical instructor tells the boy in his school “you rotate the ground four times” as punishment for bad behaviour. He meant, run around the field four times as a form of punishment.

Indians also have a penchant for spelling English words the vernacular way. On the footpath a man is making ‘dublicate’ keys for lock, cars and two wheelers.

Announcement in college on the first day of classes for the juniors “no ragging this college, anybody rags we arrest the police”. We Indians have a way of mixing up the order of words. They are all in there, just arrange them in the right order.

You would frequently hear this term being used without the batting of an eyelid “Do you have any issues?” this question means “Do you have any children”. To clarify the ‘issue’, we would also refer to the couples without children as “couples with no issues”. Now do not get me wrong, they may have problems between themselves, the 'issues' that we are talking about here, are like the monthly issues of a magazine or a periodical that come out fairly regularly.

An application for a job as found on the internet (I had to quote this one J though the source is not quiet so clear) : "This has reference to your advertisement calling for a ' Typist and an Accountant - Male or Female'... As I am both (!!) for the past several years and I can handle both with good experience, I'm applying for the post.

It is not so rare for the boss to ask you “can you capable of doing this work?”.

Indian English or English in India has found its own niche

Indian English has made its own contribution to the Oxford dictionary. Today we have words like curry, chutney, karma, chakra, bangle, bungalow, catamaran, mullagathawney ( in Tamil meaning pepper water), raj and many more that have all become part of normal English usage today. Any takers for Indian English here?

Having said this I would like to acknowledge that there are great Indian writiers who are known for the achievemnts in the literary field, making the Nobel and the booker prizes for Literature theirs. Rabindranath Tagore, Arundathi Roy, Sarojini Naidu, Salman Rushdie, R K Narayan etc.. The aspiration of the average Indian is fixed on mastering the English language, the Passport to his global village.

P.S. This is being my Hub number 100, I wanted to give you a flavor of India, not to ridicule the country and her people but more as an eye opener, for most people who have no idea of how this language has morphed and transformed in other countries where it is spoken. I hope you enjoyed this hub as much as I did, researching and presenting it for you!!

Thank you for all the support and encouragement that you, as members of this community have given me.

More by this Author


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Website Examiner 5 years ago

Congratulations on your 100th hub. Excellent choice of topic, something that I will be reading with keen interest. W.E.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

That was fast!! I appreciate that WE, means a lot to me. I have enjoyed working on this hub, had some good laugh and hope the others enjoy it as well!

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Website Examiner 5 years ago

Assisted by my virtual voice Daniel, I have now actually read the entire hub, which I find most captivating and well done. Amusing and informative.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Thank you kind sir, I do appreciate the support and help that has come my way from you. I am glad that you found it amusing and informative. Thank you so much once again!!

mquee profile image

mquee 5 years ago from Columbia, SC

Great hub and congratulations on achieving the publication of 100 hubs. The best to you.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Mquee, Thank you, for your kind comment and best wishes. I appreciate it very much. God Bless! :)

Anthea Carson profile image

Anthea Carson 5 years ago from Colorado Springs

Very interesting, useful and informative article. voted up! Congratulations on hub 100. That's quite an achievement to be proud of!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Thank you Anthea, I hope you did enjoy the humor that comes from the evolving of a language outside of its native shores. Glad that you found it interesting and informative. Yes, I am proud of completing hundred hubs, because when I started writing here for the first time, completing just one hub was a challenge. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. God Bless!

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You

Haha! Nice going sofs..not just on the 100 hub mark, but the subject matter. Yes, it's quite often amusing what non-English speakers come up with, to mangle the phrasing in sometimes embarrassing ways. Thanks for the insight and the chuckles. :)

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Oh Thanks Tim, I had quite a few chuckles myself before I completed the hub. Amusement and embarrassment are bound to happen with all the 'mangling' as you call it. Yet for us who are part of it we learn to take it in our stride and still retain some of the virtues of the language. Thanks Tim for being a friend through this journey and helping me when ever needed.

timorous profile image

timorous 5 years ago from Me to You

I'm always pleased kindly to be of a help..all times.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are (((hugs)) and God Bless!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

Congratulations on your 100th hub! It was EXCELLENT! I really admire people who learn English as a second language. It isn't easy.

Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

This was great, sofs. I'm sure we would equally botch up the Indian language as well.

Incidentally, they do have it right. When we have children we certainly have issues. :o)

Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

I laughed and enjoyed and as I continued reading, bits of unorthodox expressions in English among my former school children and colleagues came flashing in my mind. Like-"I'll die you!" by an enraged boy, "Pass out the books" by a teacher, and a lot more "blunders" among second language users of English. I'm afraid there's risk among us Filipinos Filipinizing English like the Indians do with the English language. Down in my country, at least, we try to correct this.

Good topic with light humor for your 100 hub mark. Congratulations, sofs!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

So funny! When any two languages come together, humorous things are likely to result. I LOVE this overview and it made me chuckle more than once! Voted up and funny :D

And congrats on reaching the 100 Hub milestone!!! That's huge!!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Paradise, Thank you. It has been an uphill task and well, as I always say nothing is impossible. I really appreciate all the support that you have given me :) God Bless!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Pamela N Red, thank you for stopping by, to comment and wish. Hey, I have no issues with my issues:) I truly appreciate that :) love and God Bless!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Lita, I am glad that you can appreciate and understand what I am saying... what what a merry mess it is to mix chutney and toast. Thank you for that lovely sharing.. good to know that in Philippines people 'pass out' while giving the books, we do it here too :) Thank you for the wishes and the support. Love and God Bless!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Simone, Wow! that is a lot of reading you do. I honestly appreciate all the effort you and your team put in, to make our life easy. Glad you enjoyed the humor and thanks for pressing those tabs. God Bless!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Great and your obvious hard work really paid off.

thanks for sharing and take care


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Eiddwen, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Nothing much is achieved without hard work :) I appreciate the support and good wishes. God Bless!

aka-dj profile image

aka-dj 5 years ago from Australia

I will be better understanding you now. LOL

Loved it!

Having learned the English language as my second language I am all too familiar with the difficulties and humor of it. Thanks for the hub. Congrat's on 100th!!

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

LOL thank you aka-dj, I appreciate that! 'I am also understanding you very well.'

Learning English as a second language and being able to master it is an achievement in itself. I am glad that you appreciate it, thank you so much for the read and the good wishes! God Bless!

pertibha321 profile image

pertibha321 5 years ago from india

Hey dear Congratulations on your 100th hub and about this hub I can say just one thing "you are great".I am an Indian so i know you are right on most of the points.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Thank you Prathiba, No, I am not great or even anything near it. I am just a person like everyone. I do appreciate your words and accept you congratulations with gratitude. Thank you and God bless!

aslanlight profile image

aslanlight 5 years ago from England

I've heard of better places to grow herbs! Lol

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

LoL, that did make me chuckle.. but then remember he is thinking in Hindi (or possibly one of the dialects) and translating it into English..the creative fusion of two languages :) I appreciate the fact that you stopped by to read and comment.

moncrieff profile image

moncrieff 5 years ago from New York, NY

Very interesting! I liked your examples and your knowledge of the vernacular. The English is not my native language, so maybe I find it even more intriguing. Thanks.

sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago Author

Glad you liked it moncrieff. Somethings sound so right in the vernacular but when this is translated into English it verges on the ridiculous. I had fun doing it... may be I should do one more hub on this subject:) Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

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