Wednesday, June 29, 2005

indian english

i love indian english, which is a lot like old british english, i suppose. a typical newspaper article, for example, might lament the increasing number of rowdies, rascals, miscreants, or other similarly named perpetrators of hooliganism or bamboozlement. i think i will subscribe to the paper for this reason alone.

i do however, wish i could better understand spoken indian english. it varies widely by speaker--some people make perfect sense to me...others might as well be speaking chinese. yet indians seem to understand each other when speaking english even when i can't. the whole back-and-forth communication rhythm is a bit different as well. you could almost say there is a certain impatience to indian english. most of my phone calls with indians result in complete confusion as my pauses and verbal cues differ from theirs.

one correction: the KFC is not new, it was only remodelled. my co-workers were aghast (see, i'm talking like this now) that i thought bangalore might have ever been KFC-less.


Olaf Brandt said...

My limited experience working with Indians in the Valley was that I needed a separate decoder ring for each. Having gradually built up my skills with one, I had to start anew with the next. I had an awakening when I decided to stop pretending that I could understand and just tell them when I didn't understand.

Yes, it's curious and frustrating that Indians can understand each others rotten English, but as a native US-English speaker I was struggling. I even had that experience when I lived with Simon and Frenchy in Menlo Park. Frenchy would invite foreign students from Stanford over from a number of countries and they all understood each other's broken English better than I could.

emphatican said...

Ah, the different flavors of English. Yup, I've had similar experiences. I am extremely impressed by how some (but now all) are able to roll English syllables off their tongue at an amazing speed, kind of like a pinball machine on fast-forward. From that I assumed that the Indian language was spoken exactly the same way, but I was never sure.