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Indian English

Indian English or ‘Indish’ is a particularly fruitful, charismatic and expressive form of English, which still shows its roots in the Seventeenth Century discourse of the colonisers, fused with a chutney (to paraphrase Salman Rushdie) of different linguistic influences. Possibly as a consequence of the subcontinent’s cultural richness and diversity, Indian languages including Indish seem to be rather porous and welcoming of new vocabulary.

Here are some examples:

Eve teasing – verbal sexual harassment of women

Acting pricey – playing hard to get

Kitty party – a gathering of housewives

Item girl – an It girl

Non-veg joke – a raunchy or obscene joke which would not be shared in mixed company

To take the eleven number bus – to walk

To prepone – to bring something forward in time (back formation from postpone)

Long cut – a circuituous or rambling path (back formation from short cut)

French beard – a goattee

Eggetarian – a vegetarian who eats eggs and egg products

Departmental store – any self service shop

Annexure – appendix

Upgradation – process of applying an upgrade

History sheeter – someone with an extensive criminal record

When it comes to translation, Indish is an interesting case. What do you do with a word which, in a sense, IS English, but would confuse a British or American English speaker? Likewise, if you are proofreading or editing a text which uses Indish words, do you let them stand? I’d love to hear people’s experiences of this issue…

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