1. The word English refers to things belonging or relating to England or its inhabitants. As such, English means the language spoken by the citizens or inhabitants of England. Originally, the word English referred to the native language of Britain.
Further, Queen’s English or King’s English is a term used by some to designate the standard form of written or spoken southern British English, which they regard as the most correct or acceptable form.
2. Be that as it may, English is also the native language of people in North America and much of the British Commonwealth and some other countries. Apart from the British English, there is thus the American English, Canadian English and also the Australian English.
As people from other nations start speaking English, more such versions emerge. When Chinese speak English, it becomes Chinese English or Chinglish. Likewise, when Indians speak English, it is referred to as Indian English.
The features of Indian English differ from that of British English as well as American English. The difference in fact is more pronounced in respect of spoken English. The way Indians speak English is very different from the way the British or Americans speak English. The difference is in accent, diction, pronunciation and usage. Sometimes, the difference spills over to the written English as well.
3. Indians, quite often, tend to speak English with the same accent they use for their mother tongue. Since there are several regions and regional languages, the English spoken by Indians gets influenced by their native accents.
That is why the English accent of a person from Kerala is quite different from that of Tamil Nadu or West Bengal or Punjab. Not only gets the accent, the pronunciation of English words also influenced by regional factors.
To cite an example, the word ‘body’ is pronounced differently by the people of Kerala, the letter ‘Z’ is pronounced differently by the people of Tamil Nadu and so on. People from North India, especially Uttar Pradesh, tend to add ‘i’ before the words starting from ‘S’, such as screw, scooter, start, style, etc., and pronounce them as iscrew, i scooter, istart, istyle and so on.
4. We have to note that these are features of spoken Indian English that are a reality. Nevertheless, if the speaker is conscious of it and makes earnest efforts, such regional accents and pronunciations can certainly be overcome.
There are indeed numerous speakers, hailing from various regions across India, who have mastered the correct accent and pronunciation of English language. Practice makes it perfect.
When it conies to written English too, there are some commonly noticed features that can be done away with. Here are some examples:
i. My manager is from Delhi only, (‘only’ is superfluous.)
ii. She is my cousin sister.
(Either ‘cousin’ or ‘sister’ would suffice)
iii. The meeting has been postponed to Saturday, (the correct word is ‘advanced’.)
iv. She is in the family way.
(This is an Indian usage, alien to Americans)
v. I am going gymming this weekend, (this is not used elsewhere)
We have many such examples of ‘Indianisms’ commonly used by Indians in business. Since such expressions are not used abroad, people outside India will not be in a position to readily understand the meaning.
It is worth mentioning here that 3T Corporation, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, recently launched a website called wordwala.com, which gives American English options for typical Indian English words.
Talking about the features of Indian English, it is worth noting that for most of us in India, English is a second language. It is not the language that we learned first. The language that we learnt first is usually the mother tongue or the regional language. English is a language that we learn to speak and use at work or in school. That being so, learning to speak, read or write correctly calls for extra and conscious efforts.