BITS and Pieces

Get global. Get ahead.


What is the problem with Indian English I am asked. What is wrong if we speak it with pride and expect the world to accept it as a legitimate dialect? Finally, the English speaking population of our country is larger than the population of some countries where English is spoken as the first language. Join me this month as we explore the reasons and look at an example of how we complicate things.

Language is about communicating, about being understood, but moreover, it is about connecting with people. Indian English is perfectly all right when two Indians are speaking. We couldn’t care less how things are said as long as I get what you are saying. We are like that only, no? 🙂

But hey, we are supposedly living in a globalized world of ever shrinking borders. We aren’t always going to run into Indians and that is where neutral English, that is free of all Indianisms, becomes extremely important. The world over, British or American English is easier to understand. Firstly, because Indian English is not taught globally and hence people might not always understand us, worse still, they might misunderstand us. Secondly, and most importantly, native speakers of English have an extremely easy way to say complex things that Indians usually only further complicate.

Let us look at this example from my gym that shows how we complicate things. It was all the more striking because I had seen the exact same message being conveyed in a gym in London way more easily. A sign at my gym in Pune reads, ‘Please keep all weights and other equipment back in their proper places after use.’ What I read in a certain gym in London was, ‘Please replace all equipment after use.’

Now, we do not seem to realise that the weights we lift are also ‘equipment.’ So using both ‘weight’ and ‘equipment’ is totally unnecessary. Secondly, Indians have a very different understanding of the verb ‘replace.’ The Brits have no such issues. They know that apart from a host of other meanings, the verb ‘replace’ can also be used to mean ‘to put back in its proper place.’

Keep it simple, keep it crisp!

Back to the Main Page of this month’s issue >>

Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.