Quirks of Indian English
- The progressive tense in stative verbs: I am understanding it. She is knowing the answer. Also, “I am working at XYZ Company” instead of “I work at XYZ Company”. This is an influence of traditional Hindi grammar; it is more common in northern states.
- The pluperfect tense used in verbs where International English speakers would use the simple past. I had gone for I went.
- Use of would instead of will as in “I would be going to New York this weekend”.
- Use of do the needful as in “do whatever needs to be done”
- Anglicisation of Indian words especially in Chennai by adding “ify” to a local Tamil word, usually humorously and not used in general speak.
- Idiomatic English for quantification in use of preposition “of”, as in “There is so much of happiness in being honest.”
- Use of “open” and “close” instead of switch/turn on/off, as in “Open the air conditioner” instead of “Turn on the air conditioner”, and “Open your shirt” for “Take off your shirt.” This construction is also found in Quebec English and also among Arab speakers of English etc.
- Use of “off” and “on” as verbs rather than adjectives, as in “On the light” instead of “Turn on the light” or “Off the fan” instead of “Switch off the fan.”
- Use of “y’all” for “you all” or “all of you”, as used in Southern American English, especially by Anglo-Indians. However, unlike Southern American usage, it is only used as a subject or object in a sentence, never to address a group of people.
- Swapping around the meanings of “slow” and “soft” as in “I shall speak slower for you” meaning “I will speak softly” and “Make the fan softer” to mean “Make the fan go slower.” This is because of influence from Indian languages. In Telugu, for example, the word ‘melliga’ can refer to either slow or quiet, and in Hindi “Deerai” can mean slowly or softly.
- Creation of rhyming double-words (rhyming reduplication) to denote generality of idea or act, a ‘totality’ of the word’s denotation, as in “No more ice-cream-fice-cream for you!”, “Let’s go have some chai-vai (tea, “tea and stuff”).” or “There’s a lot of this fighting-witing going on in the neighborhood.” (Prevalent mainly in Hindi- and Punjabi-speaking states.)
- Use of the word “since” instead of “for” in conjunction with periods of time, as in “I have been working since four years” instead of “I have been working for four years” or “I have been working since four years ago“. This usage is more common among speakers of North Indian languages such as Hindi where the words for both “since” and “for” are the same.
- Use of “Can you drop me?” and “We will drop her first” instead of “Can you drop me off?” and “We will drop her off first”
- Omission of the definite article: e.g. “Let’s go to city” instead of “Let’s go to the city”
- Use of “the same” instead of “it”, as in “I heard that you have written a document on …. Could you send me the same?”
- Use of “told” instead of “said”. An example would be “Ravi told he is going home” instead of “Ravi said he is going home” or “Ravi told me he is going home”. This feature is more prevalent in South India.
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