Sunday, January 13, 2008

Indian English

Goodness Gracious

While Indian English is sometimes the source of amusement, the fact remains that a certain number of Indians (given India’s population, this becomes a significant number) have little or no option when it comes to their “native” language or “mother” tongue. Again given the figures, a serious student would do better to consult the Dictionary Of Indian English featuring such terms as brinjal and wet grinder than being merely reassured that "Indian English is a recognized dialect of English, just like British Received Pronunciation (RP, or BBC English) or Australian English, or Standard American."

Perhaps this is or will no longer be the situation with the death of the last of those who lived under Colonial rule and the rise of Indian English. Be that as it may, Indian English still proves or is increasingly proving to be a thorn in the side-not only for those who seek to carve a new identity more in tune with geographical reality but also for all those who find that, while American/Canadian/ Australian or other “White” English is acceptable as a “marketable” tool, Indian English is an outrage. Such a thing is only permissible in terms of prizes for Indo-Anglican writings but somehow not to be tolerated as a “working” language. To quote some lines from what was once a famous war of words on some translator sides, the general Western attitude remains: "Again, let's face another truth: "Indian English" is not considered "standard English" by any accounts."

All that is, however, not going to be my focus here today. My desire is merely to gain world acceptance for a certain number of terms (particularly those to do with food stuffs).

And so I find the taste of a brinjal marred by any other name and cannot for the life of me bring my self to exorcise the yuck from yoghurt as I need my curds. An okra is definitely not going to help me make my favorite ladies fingers and I object to onions being called shallots at least in my part of the world.

And as for the dals, it’s a real tragedy when the best one can serve up is a plate of mushy lentils! While I do go ouch when I read some French translations on a packet of my favorite Haldiram offerings, I still maintain that all Dal Moth needs is some uniformity in spelling. To think that one can only settle for some sort of scientific term is like castrating our chillies! Pepper? That’s a hard round black dried condiment to me. And I’m the one who needs at least 6 or more of those green devils to meet my family’s daily culinary requirements.

So I hope I’ve stirred the sambhar up enough to dish up some spicy curry for thought.
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