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As a result of colonial rule under the British Raj until Indian independence in 1947, English is an official language of India and is widely used in both spoken and literary contexts. The rapid growth of India's economy towards the end of the 20th century led to large-scale population migration between regions of the Indian subcontinent and the establishment of English as a lingua franca between those speaking diverse mother tongues.
With the exception of the tiny Anglo-Indian community and some families of full Indian ethnicity where English is the primary language spoken in the home, speakers of English in the Indian subcontinent learn it as a first language in English medium schools and as a second language in regional language medium schools. In cities this is typically at English medium schools, but in smaller towns and villages instruction for most subjects is in the local language, with English language taught as a modular subject. Science and technical education is mostly undertaken in English and, as a result, most university graduates in these sectors are fairly proficient in English.
Idiomatic forms derived from Indian literary and vernacular language have become assimilated into Indian English in differing ways according to the native language of speakers. Nevertheless, there remains general homogeneity in phonetics, vocabulary, and phraseology between variants of the Indian English dialect.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Grammar
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Vocabulary and colloquialisms
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
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.
Vocabulary and colloquialisms
Indians have preserved phrases from British English that other English speakers have stopped using. Official letters include phrases such as "please do the needful", "... will revert back ..." and "you will be intimated shortly". In conversational speech it is not uncommon to ask, "What is your good name?", where a modern Western Anglophone would omit the word "good". Recent influences from American English have created inconsistencies. For instance, both "program" and "programme" can be found in Indian newspapers.. There are also unique usages that do not derive from British English.
- acting pricey = playing "hard to get", being snobbish.
- break-up = breakdown (e.g. of salary)
- bunk a class = to skip class without permission (this is still extremely common in British English also)
- bus stand = bus station, bus stop.
- cantonment = permanent military installation.
- carrying = pregnant.
- cent per cent = "100 per cent" as in "He got cent per cent in maths".
- (scoring) a century = achieving a hundred in anything, e.g.: 100 years of age, 100% in an exam, etc. From the same term in Cricket, scoring a hundred runs.
- chargesheet = formal charges filed in a court (also in BrE, with a space); v. to file charges against someone in court
- clean chit = acquittal from an accusation
- club = to merge or put two things together. "Just club it together."
- cover = plastic bag
- crib = to complain
- dearness allowance = payment given to employees to compensate for the effects of inflation.
- doubt = question or query; e.g. one would say, 'I have a doubt' when one wishes to ask a question.
- Eve teasing = verbal sexual harassment of women
- eye wash = false promise of action/assurance usually by politicians, authorities etc.
- expire = to die, especially in reference to one's family member.
- hall = Living Room
- hill station = mountain resort
- loose motion = mild diarrhoea
- mess = dining hall, especially used by students at a dormitory. 'Mess' is also used in reference to eateries catering primarily to a working class population. Originated from the military term of similar meaning.
- on the anvil (in the Indian press) = about to appear or happen. For example, a headline might read "New roads on the anvil".
- out of station = "out of town". This phrase has its origins in the posting of army officers to particular 'stations' during the days of the East India Company.
- pant = trousers
- pass out = graduating, as in "I passed out of the university in 1995". In American/British English, this usage is limited to graduating out of military academies.
- pindrop silence = extreme silence, quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
- prepone = to bring something forward in time; opposite of postpone.
- railway station is invariably used where "train station" or just "station" is more popular in some BrE.
- redressal = reparation, redress, remedy
- shift = to relocate; e.g. "He shifted from Jaipur to Gurgaon".
- stepney = spare tyre; a genericised trademark originating from the Stepney Spare Motor Wheel, itself named after Stepney Street, in Llanelli, Wales.
- Side Business = A work or commercial activity other than the main job of a person.
- tight slap = "hard slap".
- time-pass = doing something for leisure but with no intention or target/satisfaction; procrastination, pastime.
- time-waste = something that is a waste of time; procrastination; presumably not even useful for leisure.
- tuition = additional classes besides the regular school, either with a private tutor or at a learning centre. Tuition in AmE means Fees levied by an educational institution for imparting education.
- under the scanner (in the Indian press) = being investigated by authorities. For example, a headline might read "Power station under scanner for radiation".
- updation = the act or process of updating
- wheatish (complexion) = light, creamy brown, or having a light brown complexion, like that of wheat.
- Where are you put up? = 'Where are you currently staying?' In BrE, "to put someone up" means to let someone stay in one's house for a few days.
- Where do you stay? = 'Where do you live?' or 'Where's your house?'. This is also used in Scottish and South African English, and in the African American dialect of English in the United States.
The Indian numbering system is preferred for digit grouping. When written in words, or when spoken, numbers less than 100,000/100 000 are expressed just as they are in Standard English. Numbers including and beyond 100,000 / 100 000 are expressed in a subset of the Indian numbering system. Thus, the following scale is used:
|In digits (Standard English)||In digits (Indian English)||In words (Standard English)||In words (Indian English)||Indian slang|
|100,000 / 100 000||1,00,000||one hundred thousand||one lakh||peti (lit. Suitcase)|
|1,000,000 / 1 000 000||10,00,000||one million||ten lakh|
|10,000,000 /10 000 000||1,00,00,000||ten million||one crore||kokha (lit. Carton)|
Often the cause of undesirable confusion.
- allopathy – Used to refer to Western medicine to distinguish it from homeopathy, ayurveda and other alternative medical practices.
- jaundice = Acute hepatitis. While standard medical terminology uses jaundice for a symptom (yellow discolouration of skin), in India the term is used to refer to the illness in which this symptom is most common.
- viral fever = Influenza
Most Indians are more familiar with local names for food items and ingredients than their English translations. To accommodate this, Indian English frequently uses local / regional names for food items. On an Indian cooking show, it would be common to see "bhindi" and "apple" in a single list of ingredients. Some food-related vocabulary in Indian English:
- brinjal: aubergines / eggplant
- capsicum: called chili pepper, red or green pepper, or sweet pepper in the UK, capsicum in Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, bell pepper in the US, Canada, and the Bahamas; paprika in some other countries
- curd: Yogurt
- "eggitarian" for a person who eats vegetarian food, milk and eggs but not meat; ovo-lacto-vegetarian.
- karahi, kadai: wok
- ladyfinger, bhindi: okra
- non-vegetarian (often shortened to non-veg): generally, meat; this includes food which contains flesh of any mammal, fish, bird, shellfish, etc., as well as eggs. Fish, seafood, and eggs are not treated as categories separate from "meat", especially when the question of vegetarianism is at issue (milk and its products are always considered vegetarian). E.g., "We are having non-veg today for dinner", whereas the native varieties of English would have: "We are having meat today for dinner". Jokes with implicit or explicit sexual meanings are commonly referred to as non-veg jokes.
- pulses, dal: pulses, e.g. lentils
- sabzi/sabji: greens, green vegetables OR the dishes made from them
- sago/Sabudana: tapioca
- sooji or Rava: Semolina
- Atta: Wheat flour
- Maida: Plain flour
- Jeera/Jira/Zeera: Cumin seeds. The word Jeera is more well-known and is preferred over Cumin, even by those who communicate primarily in English.
- by: divided by, as in "10 by 5 equals 2", rather than "10 divided by 5 equals 2"
- into: times, as in "2 into 2 equals 4", rather than '"2 times 2 equals 4", which is more common in other varieties of English. The use of into dates back to the 15th century, when it had been common in British English.
- When giving a fuzzy estimate of numbers, the words 'to' or 'or' are omitted. For e.g. "Add four or five teaspoons of sugar" would be "Add four-five teaspoons of sugar". This usage is derived from the grammar of local languages.
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- The suffix -ji/jee (Hindi: जी) may be applied to strangers or anyone meriting respect: "Please call a taxi for Goyal-ji" (North, West and East India)
- Prefixes Shree/Shri (श्री meaning Mister) or Shreemati/Shrimati (श्रीमती meaning Ms/Mrs): Shri Ravindra Patel, Shreemati Das Gupta. Shreemati/Shrimati is used for married women. Kumari (कुमारी literally meaning a virgin) can be used for unmarried (as opposed to single) women or girls. Sushri (सुश्री) is a more recent addition, equivalent to Ms where marital status cannot be determined or is unimportant. Equivalents to these in other languages include:
- Tamil thiru (திரு), thirumathi (திருமதி); suffix avargal (lit. 'them') in formal contexts
- Telugu Sree or suffix Garu – in formal contexts.
- Kannada shree or suffix ravaru
- Urdu suffixes Saahib/Sāhab (Sir) and Begum/Sahiba (Ma'am) as in "Welcome to India, Smith-saahib (Smith-sir)" or "Begum Sahib would like some tea".
- The suffix "sir" is used for male teachers, professors, instructors and coaches and they are often addressed simply as "sir" (e.g. Gupta-sir). The female equivalents are "miss", "madam" or "teacher" (For e.g. Agarwal-miss, Godbole-madam and Ganguly-teacher). The term of address "teacher" is applied almost always to female teachers only, while male teachers are called "sirs" (except when stating or referring to their occupation); e.g. "The sir is late to class today", "There are some sirs sitting in the staff room".
- "mister" and "missus" are used as common nouns for wife/husband. For example, "Jyoti's mister stopped by yesterday" or "My missus is not feeling well".
- "Master" is a common honorific for young boys (children, teenagers). e.g.: Master Kumar.
- Use of honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Ms) with the first name. For example, Swathi Ashok Kumar might be addressed as "Ms Swathi" instead of "Ms Kumar". This is the only possible correct usage in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where most names are mononyms and people do not have a surname. (The trailing caste names used exclusively with male names in the past have gone out of vogue.)
- Use of the English words 'uncle' and 'aunty' as suffixes when addressing people such as distant relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, even total strangers (like shopkeepers) who are significantly older than oneself. E.g., "Hello, Swathi aunty!" In fact, in Indian culture, children or teenagers addressing their friends' parents as Mr Patel or Mrs Patel (etc.) is rare and may even be considered unacceptable or offensive (in the sense of referring to an elder person by name). A substitution of Sir/Ma'am, while common for addressing teachers/professors or any person in an official position, would be considered too formal to address parents of friends or any other unrelated (but known) elder persons. On the contrary, if the person is related, he/she will usually be addressed with the name of the relation in the vernacular Indian language, even while conversing in English. For example, if a woman is one's mother's sister, she would not be addressed as "auntie" but (by a Hindi speaker) as Mausī (Hindi: मौसी), by a Kannada speaker as Chikkamma Kannada: ಚಿಕ್ಕಮ್ಮ, by a Marathi speaker as māvashī (मावशी). Calling one's friends' parents aunty and uncle was also very common in Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s but is much rarer today. The terms 'Uncle' and 'Aunty' with certain intonations can also connote a derogatory reference to the advanced age of an individual.
- Similar to the use of 'uncle' and 'aunty as suffixes, didi (elder sister) or bhāi or bhaiyya (elder brother) may be used for people between 1–15 years older than oneself. The use of bhāi as a suffix is very common amongst North Indians and Urdu speakers. In other parts of India, terms from local languages may be used instead, e.g. tāi (elder sister) and bhāu or dādā (elder brother) in the case of Marathi.
- In stereotypical depictions of gang culture, especially the Mumbai underworld, gangsters are frequently addressed to with the suffix bhai.
- People young enough to be one's children may be addressed (in Hindi) as betā (both genders) or beti (female) in an endearing and informal sense. The use of betā as a suffix is also possible, though not as common as 'uncle' and 'aunty'.
- Salutations such as Respected Sir in formal letters instead of Dear Sir, and valedictions such as "Yours respectfully", or "Yours obediently", rather than the "Yours sincerely/faithfully/truly" more commonly used in the rest of the English-speaking world. Such salutations and valedictions were in use in British English during the 19th and early-20th centuries, but they have since fallen out of use.
- Sharma sir is not here = same as Sharma-ji is not here, a respectful address. Does not imply knighthood. The female equivalent is "ma'am" or "madam".
- alphabets = letters: "There are six alphabets in my name."
- amount = a sum of money, such as "please refund the amount." or "the amount has been billed to your credit card." This is the same as British English usage, but may vary elsewhere.
- as – inserted (in non-mainstream usage) before a designation: "Mahatma Gandhi is called as the father of the nation".
- back = ago: "Gandhi died sixty years back"; "I finished the painting two hours back." (Informal in American English.)
- damn – used as an intensifier, especially a negative one, far more frequently and with far more emphatic effect, than in other dialects of English, as in "that was a damn good meal." As the verb 'to damn' is rarely used, most Indians are unaware of the word's original meaning and that it is considered a profanity in other dialects of English.
- dialogue = a line of dialogue in a movie. ("That was a great dialogue!" means "That was a great line!") "Dialogues" is used to mean "screenplay". In motion picture credits, the person who might in other countries be credited as the screenwriter in India is often credited with the term dialogue writer. Note the usage of British spelling.
- disco = nightclub; "to disco" = to dance at a nightclub.
- dress (noun) is used to refer to clothing for men, women, and children alike, whereas in international varieties of English a dress is a woman's outer clothing with a bodice and a skirt as a single garment. The usage of dress as clothes does exist in international varieties but only in very rare occasions and in relevant context., e.g. schooldress. Young girls in India invariably wear a dress, which is commonly referred to as a frock in Indian English.
- elder – used, with to, as a comparative adjective in the sense of older. For example, "I am elder to you", instead of "I am older than you."
- engagement – not just an agreement between two people to marry, but a formal, public ceremony where the engagement is formalised with a ring and/or other local rituals. Indians will not speak of a couple as being engaged until after the engagement ceremony has been performed. Similar to the use of term marriage, a person may say "I am going to attend my cousin's engagement next month". Afterwards, the betrothed is referred to as one's "would-be" wife or husband. In this case, "would" has the sense of "willed to" or "planned/intended to," such that "would be" is used to mean "will be" in contrast with the standard and British and American connotation of "wants to be (but may not be)".
- even = as well/also/too/either: "Even I didn't know how to do it" instead of "I didn't know how to do it either." This usage of even is borrowed from native grammatical structure.
- equipments = plural for equipment: "Go to the place to define equipments" where typically "equipment" is used as the plural form. Other words not typically used in plural in AmE and BrE are pluralised with an 's' too.
- gentry – generalised term for social class, not specifically 'high social class'. The use of 'good', 'bad', 'high' and 'low' prefixed to 'gentry' is common.
- goggles = sunglasses, also referred to as cooling-glass in southern India, especially Kerala.
- graduation = completion of a bachelor's degree: "I did my graduation at Presidency College" ("I earned my bachelor's degree at Presidency College"); whereas in the UK and US it refers to completion of higher degrees as well. In the U.S. it is commonly used for completion of high school or any degree.
- hero = a male actor, especially of a movie; a person who is often a protagonist. Thus, "Look at Vik; he looks like a hero", meaning "he is as handsome as a movie star." Heroine is the female counterpart.
- itself – often used for more general emphasis in the sense of Western English "even", as in "they were playing cricket at night itself."
- kindly = please: "Kindly disregard the previous message."
- marriage = wedding, and vice versa. Indian languages do not distinguish between the two terms.
- metro (short for metropolis) = large city, as in "metros such as Mumbai and Delhi". This can be confusing for Europeans, who tend to use the word to describe underground urban rail networks. However, following the popularity of the Delhi Metro, the word metro now tends to be used to describe both the metropolis and the underground rail network.
- music director = a music composer for movies.
- mutton = goat meat instead of sheep meat (lamb).
- only is used to emphasise a part of speech preceding it. For example "He is coming only" instead of "He is coming", "He was at the meeting only" to emphasise that he was nowhere else but the meeting, "She only is not coming" to mean that everyone is coming except her.
- paining = hurting: "My head is paining."
- see instead of watch ("He is seeing TV right now"). Similarly, to see may be used as an imperative to mean to watch ("See that very carefully.") Most Indian languages do not distinguish between the two verbs.
- shirtings and suitings = the process of making such garments; a suffix in names of shops specialising in men's formal/business wear.
- SMS = a single SMS message, "I am going to send him an SMS to remind him." Similarly, to SMS: "Let me SMS him the address."
- solid = great or exceptional ("What a solid idea!" means "What a great idea!").
- timings = hours of operation; scheduled time, such as office timings or train timings, as opposed to the standard usage such as "The timing of his ball delivery is very good."
- what say – As in "What do you think?" or "What say you?".
Terms unique to South Asia (i.e. not generally well-known outside the region) and/or popular in India include those in the following by no means exhaustive list:
- batchmate or batch-mate (not classmate, but a schoolmate of the same grade)
- BHK is real-estate terminology for "Bedroom, Hall and Kitchen", used almost exclusively in housing size categorisation. "Hall" refers to the living room, which is highlighted separately from other rooms. For instance, a 2BHK apartment has a total of three rooms – two bedrooms and a living room; apart from the kitchen.
- Boss is a term used to refer to a (generally) male stranger such as shopkeeper. It is mildly respectful and friendly, and not considered condescending. ("Boss, what is the cost of that pen?")
- compass box or geometry box: a box holding mathematical instruments like a compass, divider, scale, protractor etc.
- co-brother indicates relationship between two previously unrelated men who are married to sisters, as in "He is my co-brother". Similarly co-sister.
- co-inlaws indicates relationship between two sets of parents whose son and daughter are married.
- cousin-brother (male first cousin), cousin-sister (female first cousin)
- foot overbridge: pedestrian footbridge
- flyover (as in BrE, overpass or an over-bridge over a section of road or train tracks)
- funda fundamental knowledge
- godown (warehouse)
- godman somewhat pejorative word for a person who claims to be divine or who claims to have supernatural powers
- gully to mean a narrow lane or alley (from the Hindi word "gali" meaning the same)
- long-cut (the "opposite" of short-cut, in other words, taking the longer route)
- mugging or mugging up (memorising, usually referring to learning "by rote"; unrelated to street crime, as in BrE/AmE).
- tiffin box = lunch box, or a snack between meals
- vote-bank is a term commonly used during the elections in India, implying a particular bloc or community of people inclined to cast their votes for a political party that promises to deliver policies favouring them.
Terms that are considered archaic in some varieties of English, but are still in use in Indian English:
- dicky/dickey = the boot/trunk of a car.
- in tension = being concerned or nervous. Phrased another way, "He is taking too much tension". Found in 18th-century British English.
- ragging = AmE hazing; still used in BrE
- the same = the aforementioned, as in "I heard that you have written a document on .... Could you send me the same?"
- Use of double and triple for numbers occurring twice or three times in succession, especially for a phone number. For example, a phone number 2233344 would be pronounced as "double-two, triple-three, double-four". Still used this way in BrE.
- Use of thrice, meaning "three times", is common in Indian English.
- Use of the phrases like nothing or like anything to express intensity. For example, "These people will cheat you like anything". Such usage was part of colloquial English language in 17th century Britain and America.
- Word pairs "up to" and "in spite" compounded to "upto" and "inspite" respectively.
- 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
- "UGC makes PhD thesis in English mandatory". India Education Review. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- 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.
- "Dictionary | Amritt, Inc.". Amritt.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- [dead link]
- Wheatish. MSN Encarta dictionary. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- "Investors lose Rs 4.4 lakh crore in four days | Business Standard". Bsl.co.in. 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Corporate chiefs getting crores in salaries: 100 and counting! - The Smart Investor". Smartinvestor.in. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- multiply, v., Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on 1 July 2009
- Peake, Richard Brinsley (1844-01-01). "The Post-Bag; or Eccentric Correspondence". Bentley's Miscellany (Richard Bentley) 16: 611. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
- Fowler, Henry Watson (1926). A Dictionary of Modern English Usage: The Classic First Edition. Oxford University Press.
- "The Hindu - Know your English". The Hindu (The Hindu Group). 14 August 2001. Retrieved 26 May 2006.
- dicky, dickey, n., Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on 1 July 2009
- 1756 BURKE Subl. & B. IV. iii, "An unnatural tension of the nerves"
- like, a., adv. (conj.), and n.2, Oxford English Dictionary, 2009, Accessed on 1 July 2009
- "Like anything | Define Like anything at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Vellikkeel Raghavan (2010). Worshipping the English Goddess: A Dalit Revisitation to the Colonial Legacy. Unpublished UGC Project Report.
- Wells, J C (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.
- Pingali Sailaja (2009). Indian English. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-2594-9.
- Andreas Sedlatschek (2009). Contemporary Indian English: variation and change. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 978-90-272-4898-5.
- Chandrika Balasubramanian (2009). Register variation in Indian English. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 978-90-272-2311-1.
- Braj B. Kachru (1983). The Indianisation of English: the English language in India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561353-8.
- 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.
- Henry Yule; Arthur Coke Burnell (1886). HOBSON-JOBSON: Being a glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words and phrases. John Murray, London.
- 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.