Languages in India. English in India

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Hinglish? No guys, it’s not an attempt to abuse English…This is the language many modern Indians speak in: a mix of Hindi and English.

English is India’s second state language. It’s is very popular and necessary for work and study here. Documents are also being made in English, or in English and Hindi both. Now in many schools, colleges and universities all subjects are taught in English, although about 20 years ago it was still different – people had English as a foreign language subject only. But even then English was given quite a big importance. In the past, of course, English was spread in India because of influence of Britain, but now Indians give importance to it for different reasons.

People in India need English not only to communicate with foreigners (many foreign companies open their offices in India now, and many Indians go for work abroad, or just immigrate). But sometimes Indian people need English even to communicate with each other: India has over 400 local languages (quite many Indian people can speak 4-5 languages also), even though many of those languages are not widely spread, not everyone in India knows Hindi as well. In South India, for example, Hindi is not very common and less people know it. TV channels in those states do use local languages too. Someone from Delhi, suppose, can feel like abroad in Bangalore. I have heard such things from people, and felt it myself as well: I can understand some Hindi, but when I visited Bangalore, i did not understand anything. In those areas people can mix English and their local languages as well.

Why do Indians need to mix the languages, it’s difficult to say. But most likely it’s just a habit, like in some other countries too. So even if it looks strange to me, India is not the first country where I have seen it, in Malaysia, suppose, people do the same thing. People do not just put some modern words in conversations on their language, but they literally mix 2 languages in 1 sentence, or sometimes they tell a few phrases completely in English in conversation on their language. This, plus that Indians do gesticulate a lot, makes it much easier to understand what people are talking about for a foreigner, who does not know Hindi even at all. But if foreigner understood something, Indians usually give a very surprising reaction, and they certainly never expect a foreigner to know even a little bit of Hindi.

I can say that there is some benefit in mixing languages like this: people will not start forgetting English without going abroad or speaking to foreigners. But in the same time people in such countries where it is a common experience to do so, might think that it is because in another countries most of the people do not know 2 or few languages, they do not mix it: it is not true about all the countries. Just in some countries it is not considered normal, and people are teaching their bi-lingual or multi-lingual children not to mix languages.

Since In India, education is not available for everyone, mostly people who weren’t able to receive proper school education at least (though it is not considered enough here for English as well) don’t speak English. Therefore, Indians often even judge each other’s levels of education only by their knowledge of English…Elder women who did not work or worked just for a few years in their lives, even those who have received graduation, mostly do not speak English too, but they usually can understand it partly. Children might not speak English before they went to schools, but it depends on parents: some people give preference to English that much that their kids do not even know Hindi almost (or other language/languages they speak). More and more people set the preference for their children to know English first of all. Many young people do mostly write Hindi words using the English alphabets, some of them can be even unable to read Hindi words properly. For some Indian people knowledge of English can be a subject of showing off even.

At the same time, many Hindi words are being forgotten by Indians
with a change of generations, replaced with the English once. This happens even with uneducated people: even they mostly use such words like names of the months, days of week, numbers or even body parts in English, and most of the modern words – the words that came here with the technologies and other aspects of moder life as well.

For foreigners who speak English to visit India is certainly much easier than going to some other countries where English is not common. Although, foreigners will still have to communicate with people who don’t speak English – drivers and street vendors. But some of them do. And most of them use the numbers in English for sure, as I have mentioned above.

So who knows what will happen to languages in India after a few decades…

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