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English language public instruction began in India in the 1830s during the rule of the East India Company. (India was then, and is today, one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world.) In 1837, English replaced Persian as the official language of the Company. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, primary- middle- and high schools were opened in many districts of British India, with most high schools providing English language instruction in some subjects. In 1857, just before the end of Company rule, universities modelled on the University of London and employing English as the medium of instruction were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. During the subsequent Crown Rule in India, or the British Raj, lasting from 1858 to 1947, English language penetration increased throughout India. This was driven in part by the gradually increasing hiring of Indians in the civil services. At the time of India's independence in 1947, English was the only functional lingua franca in the country. Consequently, although the Constitution of India (1951) declared Hindi the official language of the new republic, it retained English as the associate official language.
According to the 2001 Census of India, almost all Indians who speak English are second language speakers. According to the 2005 India Human Development Survey, the surveyed households reported that 72 per cent of men did not speak any English, 28 per cent spoke some English, and five per cent spoke English fluently. Among women, the corresponding percentages were 83, 17, and 3.
Idiomatic forms derived from Indian literary languages and vernaculars have been absorbed into Indian English. Nevertheless, there remains general homogeneity in phonetics, vocabulary, and phraseology between variants of the Indian English dialect.
After Indian Independence in 1947, Hindi was declared the first official language, and attempts were made to declare Hindi the sole national language of India. Due to protests from Tamil Nadu and other non-Hindi-speaking states, it was decided to temporarily retain English for official purposes until at least 1965. By the end of this period, however, opposition from non-Hindi states was still too strong to have Hindi declared the sole language. With this in mind, the English Language Amendment Bill declared English to be an associate language "until such time as all non-Hindi States had agreed to its being dropped." This has never occurred, as English is now reckoned as all but indispensable. For instance, it is the only reliable means of day-to-day communication between the central government and the non-Hindi states.
The spread of the English language in India has led it to become adapted to suit the local dialects. However, due to the large diversity in Indian languages and cultures, there can be instances where the same English word can mean different things to different people in different parts of India.
The role of English within the complex multilingual society of India is far from straightforward: it is used across the country, by speakers with various degrees of proficiency; the grammar and phraseology may mimic that of the speaker's first language. While Indian speakers of English use idioms peculiar to their homeland, often literal translations of words and phrases from their native languages, this is far less common in proficient speakers, and the grammar itself tends to be quite close to that of Standard British English.
Indian accents vary greatly. Some Indians speak English with an accent very close to a Standard British (Received Pronunciation) accent (though not the same); others lean toward a more 'vernacular', native-tinted, accent for their English speech.
In general, Indian English has fewer peculiarities in its vowel sounds than the consonants, especially as spoken by native speakers of languages like Hindi, the vowel phoneme system having some similarities with that of English. Among the distinctive features of the vowel-sounds employed by some Indian English speakers:
- Many Indian English speakers do not make a clear distinction between /ɒ/ and /ɔː/. (See cot–caught merger.)
- Unlike British speakers, but like some Americans, some Indian speakers, especially in the South, often do not pronounce the rounded /ɒ/ or /ɔː/, and substitute /a/ instead. This makes not sound as [nat]. The phoneme /ɔː/, if used, is only semi-rounded at the lips.. Similarly in South India coffee will be pronounced kaafi, copy will be kaapi etc.
- Words such as class, staff and last would be pronounced with a back /a/ as in Southern British dialects but unlike Northern British dialects and standard American English, i.e., [klɑːs], [stɑːf], and [lɑːst] rather than American [klæːs], [stæːf], and [læːst].
- Most Indians have the trap–bath split of Received Pronunciation.
Among the most distinctive features of consonants in Indian English are:
- citation needed] [
- Standard Hindi and most other vernaculars (except Punjabi, Marathi & Bengali) do not differentiate between /v/ (voiced labiodental fricative) and /w/ (voiced labiovelar approximant). Instead, many Indians use a frictionless labio-dental approximant [ʋ] for words with either sound, possibly in free variation with [v] and/or [w] depending upon region. Thus, wet and vet are often homophones.
- Related to the previous characteristic, many Indians prefer to pronounce words such as <flower> as [flaː(r)], as opposed to [flaʊə(r)], and <our> as [aː(r)], as opposed to [aʊə(r)]. This trait is present in dialects of British, South African, and Pakistani English, amongst others, albeit not in all American dialects
- The voiceless plosives /p/, /t/, /k/ are always unaspirated in Indian English, whereas in RP, General American and most other English accents they are aspirated in word-initial or stressed syllables. Thus "pin" is pronounced [pɪn] in Indian English but [pʰɪn] in most other dialects. In native Indian languages (except Tamil), the distinction between aspirated and unaspirated plosives is phonemic, and the English stops are equated with the unaspirated rather than the aspirated phonemes of the local languages. The same is true of the voiceless postalveolar afficate /tʃ/.
- The alveolar stops English /d/, /t/ are often retroflex [ɖ], [ʈ], especially in the South of India. In Indian languages there are two entirely distinct sets of coronal plosives: one dental and the other retroflex. To the Indian ears, the English alveolar plosives sound more retroflex than dental. In the Devanagari script of Hindi, all alveolar plosives of English are transcribed as their retroflex counterparts. One good reason for this is that unlike most other native Indian languages, Hindi does not have true retroflex plosives (Tiwari,  2001). The so-called retroflexes in Hindi are actually articulated as apical post-alveolar plosives, sometimes even with a tendency to come down to the alveolar region. So a Hindi speaker normally cannot distinguish the difference between their own apical post-alveolar plosives and English's alveolar plosives. However, languages such as Tamil have true retroflex plosives, wherein the articulation is done with the tongue curved upwards and backwards at the roof of the mouth. This also causes (in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) the /s/ preceding alveolar /t/ to allophonically change to [ ʃ ] (<stop> /stɒp/ → / ʃʈap/). Mostly in south India, some speakers allophonically further change the voiced retroflex plosives to voiced retroflex flap, and the nasal /n/ to a nasalised retroflex flap.
- Many speakers of Indian English do not use the voiced postalveolar fricative (/ʒ/). Some Indians use /z/ or /dʒ/ instead, e.g. treasure /ˈtrɛzəːr/, and in the south Indian variants, with /ʃ/ as in <"sh'"ore>, e.g. treasure /ˈtrɛʃər/.
- All major native languages of India (except Bengali) lack the dental fricatives (/θ/ and /ð/; spelled with th). Usually, the aspirated voiceless dental plosive [t̪ʰ] is substituted for /θ/ in the north (it would be unaspirated in the south) and the unaspirated voiced dental plosive [d̪], or possibly the aspirated version [d̪ʱ]. is substituted for /ð/. For example, "thin" would be realised as [t̪ʰɪn] instead of /θɪn/ for North Indian speakers, whereas it would be pronounced unaspirated in the south.
- South Indians tend to curl the tongue (retroflex accentuation) more for /l/ and /n/.
- Most Indian languages (except Urdu variety) lack the voiced alveolar fricative /z/. A significant portion of Indians thus, even though their native languages do have its nearest equivalent: the unvoiced /s/, often use the voiced palatal affricate (or postalveolar) /dʒ/, just as with a Korean accent. This makes words such as <zero> and <rosy> sound as [ˈdʒiːro] and [ˈroːdʒiː] (the latter, especially in the North). This replacement is equally true for Persian and Arabic loanwords into Hindi. The probable reason is the confusion created by the use of the devanagari grapheme < ज > (for /dʒ/) with a dot beneath it to represent the loaned /z/ (as < ज़ >). This is common among people without formal English education.
- Many Indians with lower exposure to English also may pronounce / f / as aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive [pʰ]. Again note that in Hindi (devanagari) the loaned / f / from Persian and Arabic is written by putting a dot beneath the grapheme for native [pʰ] < फ >: < फ़ >. This substitution is rarer than that for [z], and in fact in many Hindi /f/ is used by native speakers instead of /pʰ/, or the two are used interchangeably.
- Inability to pronounce certain (especially word-initial) consonant clusters by people of rural backgrounds. This is usually dealt with by epenthesis. e.g., school /isˈkuːl/, similar to Spanish.
- Sometimes, Indian speakers interchange /s/ and /z/, especially when plurals are being formed, unlike speakers of other varieties of English, who use [s] for the pluralisation of words ending in a voiceless consonant, [z] for words ending in a voiced consonant or vowel, and [ɨz] for words ending in a sibilant.
- Again, in dialects like Bhojpuri, all instances of /ʃ/ are spoken like [s], a phenomenon which is also apparent in their English. Exactly the opposite is seen for many Bengalis.
- In case of the postalveolar affricates /tʃ/ /dʒ/, native languages like Hindi have corresponding affricates articulated from the palatal region, rather than postalveolar, and they have more of a stop component than fricative; this is reflected in their English.
- Whilst retaining /ŋ/ in the final position, many Indian speakers add the [ɡ] sound after it when it occurs in the middle off a word. Hence /ˈriŋiŋ/ → /ˈriŋɡiŋ/ (ringing).
- Syllabic /l/, /m/ and /n/ are usually replaced by the VC clusters [əl], [əm] and [ən] (as in button /ˈbuʈʈən/), or if a high vowel precedes, by [il] (as in little /ˈliʈʈil/). Syllable nuclei in words with the spelling er/re (a schwa in RP and an r-coloured schwa in GA) are also replaced VC clusters. e.g., metre, /ˈmiːtər/ → /ˈmiːʈər/.
- Indian English uses clear [l] in all instances like Irish English whereas other varieties use clear [l] in syllable-initial positions and dark [l] (velarised-L) in coda and syllabic positions.
A number of distinctive features of Indian English are due to "the vagaries of English spelling". Most Indian languages, unlike English, have a nearly phonetic pronunciation with respect to their script, so the spelling of a word is a highly reliable guide to its modern pronunciation. Indians' tendency to pronounce English phonetically as well can cause divergence from Western English. For example, "jewellery" is pronounced /dʒʋeləriː/ and "jewel" as /dʒʋel/ where Western Anglophones might omit the final e, pronouncing them as /dʒʋelriː/ and /dʒʋl/.
- In words where the digraph <gh> represents a voiced velar plosive (/ɡ/) in other accents, some Indian English speakers supply a murmured version [ɡʱ], for example <ghost> [ɡʱoːst]. No other accent of English admits this voiced aspiration.
- Similarly, the digraph <wh> may be aspirated as [ʋʱ] or [wʱ], resulting in realisations such as <which> [ʋʱɪtʃ], found in no other English accent (except in certain parts of Scotland).
- In unstressed syllables, which speakers of American English would realise as a schwa, speakers of Indian English would use the spelling vowel, making <sanity> sound as [ˈsæniti] instead of [ˈsænəti]. This trait is also present in other South Asian dialects (i.e. Pakistani and Sri Lankan English), and in RP, etc. 
- Final <a> is almost always pronounced as schwa /ə/ in other dialects (exceptions include words such as <spa>); but in Indian English the ending <a> is pronounced as the long open central unrounded vowel /aː/ (as in <spa>) instead of /ə/. So, <India> is pronounced as /ˈɪnɖɪaː/ instead of /ˈɪndɪə/, and <sofa> as /ˈsoːfaː/ instead of /ˈsoʊfə/.
- The word "of" is usually pronounced with a /f/ instead of a /v/ as in most other accents.
- Use of [d] instead of [t] for the "-ed" ending of the past tense after voiceless consonants, for example "developed" may be [ˈdɛʋləpd] instead of RP /dɪˈvɛləpt/.
- Use of [s] instead of [z] for the "-s" ending of the plural after voiced consonants, for example <dogs> may be [daɡs] instead of [dɒɡz].
- Pronunciation of <house> as [hauz] in both the noun and the verb, instead of [haus] as noun and [hauz] as verb.
- The digraph <tz> is pronounced as [tz] or [tdʒ] instead of [ts] (voicing may be assimilated in the stop too), making <Switzerland> sound like [ˈsʋɪtzərlænd] instead of [ˈswɪtsəɹlənd].
- In RP, /r/ occurs only before a vowel. But some speakers of Indian English, primarily in the South, use /r/ in almost all positions in words using the letter 'r', similar to most Canadian and some Irish dialects. The allophone used is a mild trill or a tap. Indian speakers do not typically use the retroflex approximant /ɻ/ for <r>, which is common for American English speakers.
- All consonants are distinctly doubled (lengthened) in most varieties of Indian English wherever the spelling suggests so. e.g., <drilling> /ˈdrilliŋɡ/.
- In certain words, especially Latinate words ending in ile, is pronounced [ɪ] in America and [aɪ] in Britain. Indian English, like most other Commonwealth dialects, will invariably use the British pronunciation. Thus, <tensile> would be pronounced as [ˈtɛnsaɪl] like the British, rather than [ˈtɛnsɪl] like the American; <anti>, on the other hand, use i, as [ˈænti] like in Britain, rather than [ˈæntaɪ] like in America. Similar effects of British colonisation are 're', 'ise', and 'our' spellings in words like 'metre', 'realise', and 'endeavour', respectively, which Americans would spell as 'meter', realize' and 'endeavor'.
Any of the native varieties of English produce unique stresses on the language. English is a stress-timed language, and both syllable stress and word stress, where only certain words in a sentence or phrase are stressed, are important features of Received Pronunciation. Indian native languages are actually syllable-timed languages, like Latin and French. Indian-English speakers usually speak with a syllabic rhythm. Further, in some Indian languages, stress is associated with a low pitch, whereas in most English dialects, stressed syllables are generally pronounced with a higher pitch. Thus, when some Indian speakers speak, they appear to put the stress accents at the wrong syllables, or accentuate all the syllables of a long English word. Certain Indian accents are of a "sing-song" nature, a feature seen in a few English dialects in Britain, such as Scouse and Welsh English.
A few examples of Indian English usage
- academic (noun): (also Canadian and US English) In pl. Academic pursuits in contrast to technical or practical work.
- Example: 1991 Hindu (Madras) 6 Dec. 27/2 For 14 years he immersed himself in academics and was a fine achiever.
- accomplish (verb, transitive), chiefly Indian English: To equip.
- Example: 1992 H. L. Chopra in V. Grover Polit. Thinkers Mod. India XVII. lxiii. 488 His insatiable thirst for knowledge accomplished him with all modern standards of scholarship.
- airdash (verb intransitive) Indian English, to make a quick journey by air, especially in response to an emergency.
- Example: 1973 Hindustan Times Weekly 25 Mar. 1 Governor B. K. Nehru, who airdashed to Shillong yesterday, flew back to Imphal 
- Indian English literature
- Regional accents of English
- Regional differences and dialects in Indian English
- Indian numbering system
- Languages with official status in India
- Andreas Sedlatschek Contemporary Indian English: Variation and Change 2009
- Lalmalsawma, David (7 September 2013), India speaks 780 languages, 220 lost in last 50 years – survey, Reuters
- Census of India's Indian Census, Issue 25, 2003, pp 8–10, (Feature: Languages of West Bengal in Census and Surveys, Bilingualism and Trilingualism).
- FAMILY-WISE GROUPING OF THE 122 SCHEDULED AND NON-SCHEDULED LANGUAGES – 2001 Census of India
- Tropf, Herbert S. 2004. India and its Languages. Siemens AG, Munich
- For the distinction between "English Speakers," and "English Users," please see: TESOL-India (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)], India: World's Second Largest English-Speaking Country. Their article explains the difference between the 350 million number mentioned in a previous version of this Wikipedia article and the current number:
“ "Wikipedia's India estimate of 350 million includes two categories – "English Speakers" and "English Users". The distinction between the Speakers and Users is that Users only know how to read English words while Speakers know how to read English, understand spoken English as well as form their own sentences to converse in English. The distinction becomes clear when you consider the China numbers. China has over 200 million users that can read English words but, as anyone can see on the streets of China, only handful of million who are English speakers." ”
- An analysis of the 2001 Census of India, published in 2010, concluded that approximately 86 million Indians reported English as their second language, and another 39 million reported it as their third language. No data was available whether these individuals were English speakers or users.
- "HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA". OUP. 2005.
- Mukesh Ranjan Verma and Krishna Autar Agrawal: Reflections on Indian English literature (2002), page 163: "Some of the words in American English have spelling pronunciation and also pronunciation spelling. These are also characteristic features of Indian English as well. The novels of Mulk Raj Anand, in particular, are full of examples of ..."
- Pingali Sailaja: Indian English (2009), page 116: "So what was Cauvery is now Kaveri. Some residual spellings left by the British do exist such as the use of ee for /i:/ as in Mukherjee. Also, some place names such as Cuddapah and Punjab"
- Edward Carney: Survey of English Spelling (2012), page 56: "Not all distributional differences, however, have important consequences for spelling. For instance, the ... Naturally enough, Indian English is heavily influenced by the native language of the area in which it is spoken."
- Indian English Literature (2002), page 300: "The use of Indian words with English spellings: e.g. 'Mundus,' 'raksha'; 'Ed Cherukka,' 'Chacko Saar Vannu'"
- Wells, p. 627
- Wells, pp. 627-628
- Wells, p. 62
- Wells, p. 629
- Wells, p. 630
- Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 1995), page 360
- [dead link]
- Varshney, R.L., "An Introductory Textbook of Linguistics and Phonetics", 15th Ed. (2005), Student Store, Bareilly.
- academic (noun), 6, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2011
- accomplish (verb, transitive, 3a', Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2011
- airdash (in air, Compounds, C2) (verb, transitive, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2008
- Balasubramanian, Chandrika (2009), Register Variation in Indian English, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-2311-4
- Baumgardner, Robert Jackson (editor) (1996), South Asian English: Structure, Use, and Users, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 978-0-252-06493-7
- Braj B. Kachru (1983). The Indianisation of English: the English language in India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561353-8.
- Gargesh, Ravinder (17 February 2009), "South Asian Englishes", in Braj Kachru et al, The Handbook of World Englishes, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 90–, ISBN 978-1-4051-8831-9
- Hickey, Raymond (2004), "South Asian English", Legacies of Colonial English: Studies in Transported Dialects, Cambridge University Press, pp. 536–, ISBN 978-0-521-83020-1
- Lange, Claudia (2012), The Syntax of Spoken Indian English, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-4905-9
- Mehrotra, Raja Ram (1998), Indian English: Texts and Interpretation, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-4716-1
- Sailaja, Pingali (2009), Indian English, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-2595-6
- Schilk, Marco (2011), Structural Nativization in Indian English Lexicogrammar, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-0351-2
- Sedlatschek, Andreas (2009), Contemporary Indian English: Variation and Change, Varieties of English Around the World, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-4898-2
- Henry Yule; Arthur Coke Burnell (1886). HOBSON-JOBSON: Being a glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words and phrases. John Murray, London.
- Wells, J C (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.
- Whitworth, George Clifford (1885). An Anglo-Indian dictionary: a glossary of Indian terms used in English, and of such English or other non-Indian terms as have obtained special meanings in India. K. Paul, Trench.
- English in India
- English Language Proficiency Test (E-SAT) conducted by English Language Teachers Association, Andhra Pradesh (ELTA) for classes 4 to 10
- 'Hover & Hear' pronunciations in a Standard Indian English accent, and compare side by side with other English accents from around the World.
- "Linguistic and Social Characteristics of Indian English" by Jason Baldridge: A rather thorough analysis of Indian language published by the "Language In India" magazine.
- On the future of Indian English, by Gurcharan Das.
- An exploration into linguistic majority-minority relations in India, by B. Mallikarjun.
- 108 varieties of Indian English, Dharma Kumar, India Seminar, 2001 (Volume 500).
- What are some English phrases and terms commonly heard in India but rarely used elsewhere?, Pushpendra Mohta 2012.