Indian English: Totally Legend Like Anything

The numbers speak. 12. 5 crore Indians use English, whereas only half as many in the UK do the same. When the USA invaded Iraq, I distrusted the American news media and sought international coverage. India’s English language newspaper websites provided some objectivity. One of them also delivered this: “Bush Ploy Foxes Pundits.” I could put the foxes in a bush, but I knew that “he pundits” is incorrect: pundit is a noun. So, I reparsed the sentence.

We think that our vernacular is the standard, but Jews who speak Yiddish have an old joke: “What is the difference between a language and dialect? Dialects do not have armies.” The so-called standard language is only the local dialect of the capital city. See, for example, The King’s English by Henry Watson Fowler and Francis George Fowler (Oxford: Clarendon Press , 1906), which was published at the height of the British empire. But Rudyard Kipling was the first English language writer to be honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature (1907) and he was born in Mumbai.  (Ironically, the Fowlers complained that Kipling introduced Americanisms into his prose.)

Now, India has an army (with nuclear weapons) and …

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